You’ve just landed yourself a new job. You feel valued. More confident about your future. Friends and family are happy for you, and celebrate your success.

If you have a disability, the jubilation will often be greater. For families that might have only felt anxiety about an individual’s future, this new job can be life-changing for everybody.

But imagine that dreamt-of job quickly going pear-shaped and vanishing into thin air. The confusion and distress of it. The recriminations. More often than not, both in the workplace and in the home, it is assumed that the job loss is the worker’s fault. This can have devastating effects on individuals and families. The job seeker’s sense of failure can be profound and self-perpetuating.

When we have a close look at what went wrong, we often see the real culprit: the disability employment service has simply not done its homework.

How do we support our job seekers to stay focused on finding and maintaining employment? Do we take the time to find creative ways to keep them engaged?

Hang on a minute: isn’t it up to job seekers to make sure they comply with conditions imposed by their social welfare benefits? They know the rules. They have to toe the line!

However, there are myriad reasons why job seekers may not meet their obligations. Whether it’s due to literacy issues, illness, money problems, cognitive impairment or anxiety about looking for work, appointments may be missed and responsibilities skirted. There is no point indulging in punitive participation reports that lead to the distress of income loss. How does that help anybody?

Still fuming from reading in the Canberra Times that quotas or subsidies as incentives for employing people with disability might still be in fashion.

Let’s look at it from a business perspective. You have a product. You begin by promoting it with a discount, or even as a freebie. No matter, if its low price is the selling point, where do you go next?

This is what is happening when a disability employment service leads with a subsidy, rather than the value a job seeker adds to a business.

Where is the pride in your ‘product’ – trained, enthusiastic and supported workers? Best practice leads with the job seeker’s strengths, frequently doing away with subsidies while investing in good job matching and post-placement support.

But we’re not really here to talk about products and marketing are we? The biggest issue is what happens to the worker post-subsidy.