Post-placement support

I was so proud to be a part of NOVA Transition's graduation celebrations last week! 

TTW is a two-year program designed to prepare school leavers for the workforce. And it does this very well, if I do say so myself.

In 2016, NOVA found award-wage work or further education for 82 young Sydney-siders with a disability in hospitality, childcare, administration, warehousing, retail, horticulture, construction, hairdressing and the auto industry. Seventeen of these jobs were apprenticeships or traineeships. Six of these jobs were full-time roles. All of these jobs were in open employment with the same conditions and pay as everyone else.

That's right: the same conditions and pay as everyone else. It's not too much to ask.

All you need is an inviolate belief in the ability of people with a disability to achieve the goals they set for themselves. With this belief behind you, it's easy to commit to finding a job that suits the person's abilities and interests then provide the post-placement support required to ensure the position is maintained. 

Post-placement support is paramount. This is the only concession people with disability require compared to their able-bodied peers. The Disability Act 1986 suggested that society was prepared to, indeed enthusiastic about investing in improving the lives of people with a disability by supporting them to live more independent lives, including finding sustainable employment. Post-placement support is critical to sustainable employment.

I have the numbers for disability employment services (DES-ESS) up till 30/06/16 and I am delighted to see that NOVA is responsible for almost 25% of all employment in New South Wales lasting 6 months or more. It's this '6 months or more' figure that NOVA focuses on. Finding short-term jobs or jobs that run for just eight hours per week isn't that hard. Finding employment that leads to a sustainable career is harder.

But NOVA thrives on this challenge. We offer post-placement support for as long as the person with a disability feels they need it. There is no time limit. We do this because we know people need support through changes of task and role, through changes of management, through illness and other life-changing events. We take post-placement support seriously because we know that it changes lives.

I believe that the State and Commonwealth Governments would serve people with disability well by publishing DES-ESS data that's currently not seen. Data that shows just how sustainable the work found by many DES-ESS is. Data like: retention rates, average hours worked, average wages, and any other data that leads to sustainable employment.

But doing this would uncover real holes in many providers' post-placement support. And for some reason, governments don't want that.

Their enthusiasm for assessing the quality of a disability service provider through 'star ratings' never ceases to amaze me. The star ratings don't represent good quality service for people with a disability. In fact, in 2015, their application in allocating market share appears to have delivered a 16% drop in employment outcomes. We all know - DES, the funding body and the Minister - that the stars are deeply flawed and yet the nonsense continues.

- Martin Wren