Speechwriter for George H. W. Bush, Michael Gerson, is credited with the phrase, ‘The soft bigotry of low expectation’ used by his boss at the NAACP's 91st annual convention.

I do not have the experience to speak in relation to African Americans but do feel qualified to speak to the situation of people with a disability in Australia. Such persons find themselves in an environment that seems almost designed to encourage service providers to aim low.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

There are more than 800,000 people receiving the disability support pension[1]. The cost exceeds $17,000,000,000 a year or approximately $540 per second
(every minute, every hour, every day … ).

You’d think Government would be keen to reduce this. But, no.

You’ve just landed yourself a new job. You feel valued. More confident about your future. Friends and family are happy for you, and celebrate your success.

If you have a disability, the jubilation will often be greater. For families that might have only felt anxiety about an individual’s future, this new job can be life-changing for everybody.

But imagine that dreamt-of job quickly going pear-shaped and vanishing into thin air. The confusion and distress of it. The recriminations. More often than not, both in the workplace and in the home, it is assumed that the job loss is the worker’s fault. This can have devastating effects on individuals and families. The job seeker’s sense of failure can be profound and self-perpetuating.

When we have a close look at what went wrong, we often see the real culprit: the disability employment service has simply not done its homework.

How do we support our job seekers to stay focused on finding and maintaining employment? Do we take the time to find creative ways to keep them engaged?

Hang on a minute: isn’t it up to job seekers to make sure they comply with conditions imposed by their social welfare benefits? They know the rules. They have to toe the line!

However, there are myriad reasons why job seekers may not meet their obligations. Whether it’s due to literacy issues, illness, money problems, cognitive impairment or anxiety about looking for work, appointments may be missed and responsibilities skirted. There is no point indulging in punitive participation reports that lead to the distress of income loss. How does that help anybody?