I am the first to admit that working in a disability employment service is demanding, complex and requires great commitment. And yet I still find it shocking – and unacceptable – that staff turnover in the sector runs at 50 per cent. It has become a ‘churn and burn’ environment.

Instability in our workforce has serious flow-on effects for our job seekers. Consistency of environment boosts the likelihood of successful and sustainable job placement. People with disability tend to place high value on routine, and knowing the people they’re working with. They may also have great difficulty with change, especially younger people. They have gaps in their ability to articulate and advocate – that’s why they need us.

We recently met a young lady (I’ll call her Hannah) whose story had me equally impressed, angry and baffled. Impressed by her energy, ambition and resilience. Angry that she had had so little support from disability employment services. And baffled by the red tape she has to untangle to move forward with her goals.

Hannah has been trying for over six years to get a job. I’ll write that again. Over six years. She’s been with two different support services in Hornsby, neither of whom have helped her. When Hannah talks about this she says ‘I have not had any success’. Her use of the ‘I’ pronoun shows me how alone she has felt in her job search. I call that a great big fail on the part of her so-called support services.

Thankfully, this young lady has retained her ‘can do’ attitude, and has a great family behind her. They have a plan.

When markets are growing and investment is high, of course you are going to find a buzz of interest and activity. But when you’re talking about a national government-supported scheme, bees around a honey-pot can suddenly transform into snouts at the trough of public funds. A troubling scenario.

We’ve seen this before, haven’t we? We know how badly it can end, in Royal Commissions and worse.

I don’t want to be known as a critic of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It promises so much positive progress for our brothers and sisters with disabilities. I want to keep flying that NDIS flag of choice and control! And of course the flag that flies over everything we do at NOVA: Employment First.

But I’m worried.