I can no longer sit and watch the NDIS turning into a debacle.  At least this is the case in terms of supporting young adults with significant disability to transition from school to work.

The enormous amount of money was always going to attract new players onto the market. (That’s a good thing: fresh ideas, competition, new energy, etc.) However, it was also obvious that the same money would bring profiteers, and the well intentioned, but inexperienced or incompetent. Following the inconsistent planning process, we see completely inept and incompetent service delivery waste the widely varying funds available.

And so it goes. I am told Catholic schools are not to refer students to disability employment services, because the money can be used by new faith-based vocational preparation programs.

At NOVA, we try not to kid ourselves about what it takes to do this job well. Sure, we see ourselves as experts in the disability employment field, and we have some good scores on the board. These are not laurels to rest on.

Our stated mission is ‘to help people with a disability find and keep satisfying jobs of their choice’. And that’s certainly what we dedicate ourselves to in our day-to-day work and our long-term planning.

The keystone to that achievement is not spelled out but you’ve heard it before: we are only as good as our people. What does that really mean? The short answer: much more than a recruitment process.

‘The labour force participation rates for people with disability have remained stagnant for the past 20 years, at around 53 per cent, compared to 83 per cent for people without disability’ (DES Reform 2018: Industry Information Paper, June 2017).

In one sense the quote above says it all: the disability employment sector is no longer making progress and needs urgent reform. I’d go further and say that ‘stagnant’ is just a polite way of saying that the participation rates positively stink!

However, it would be a mistake to overlook the past 20 years.