Aren’t we aiming for inclusion?

For-profit providers. Ineffective subsidies. Mutual obligation. Contract gaming.

What’s the Disability Employment Services sector coming to?

It doesn’t seem to be designed for inclusion of people with significant disability. In fact, I’d go so far as saying that ‘exclusion’ is the aim. Why do I think this?

1. Because government is awarding contracts to for-profit providers whose priority is not inclusion of persons with disability at all. Their first obligation: shareholders. Their second obligation: staff positions. This means that, at best, people with disability come in a dawdling third when seeking work with for-profit providers.

2. Because subsidies encourage society to think of people with disability – that huge, varied and skilled group of people – as ‘lesser than’. Why else would they come with a discount? (If they worked, I might consider them, but they don't.)

3. Because the punitive nature of mutual obligation is a one-way street, where job seekers are obliged to turn themselves inside out (and often in the wrong direction) to find work – any work, not necessarily employment that suits them – to keep the funding body’s numbers up. In return, do governments provide the number of jobs that people are looking for? No. Just a few subsidised positions, the majority of which collapse after the mandated 6-month period ends.

4. Because all of the above leads to 'gaming’, because, to stay afloat, DES providers must find work for the easiest-to-place candidates first. What happens to the more complex cases? They’re relegated to the back of the queue, thereby excluded from the workforce.

See what I mean? We're not even aiming for inclusion. The fundamental evil of this is that people with disability are consigned to second class, completely excluding people with greater needs. It’s just wrong.

 - Martin Wren