A fair wage for a fair day’s work

‘We will no longer have workers with intellectual disabilities working in Dickensian conditions,’ Maurice Blackburn partner Josh Bornstein said on Friday.

A triumph!

Finally, a fair wage for a fair day’s work, even at Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs). After years of nonsense hopefully the exploitation of people with disability will end.

Mind you, some of this is a problem of the government and both political parties’ making. The system for calculating ADE-worker wages, known as the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT), gave ADE service providers consistently lower productivity results, thus justifying the appallingly low wages. (Yes, the $1 an hour.)

Though the federal government system is in violation of anti-discrimination laws, there will still be an outcry from some. ‘They're happy there!' and even ‘This is better than nothing.' And many will wonder, ‘What else can they do?’

The answer is that people with a disability are capable of a lot more than many of us think. For more than 25 years, NOVA Employment has successfully supported people to leave sheltered work (now ADEs). People with intellectual disability make excellent staff in a ‘matched workplace’, where they can exchange their skills and ability for a fair wage.

Does the job need to be done?

If the answer is yes, then it’s worth being paid properly for it.

Yes, I am hardline on this. Yes, I carry on about it all the time. That’s because I know that with appropriate and skilled support people with a disability can make it in the mainstream.

The back pay is a deserving Christmas present for many of our most disadvantaged workers.

- Martin Wren