ADACAS Advocacy

ADACAS participated in a consultation for people with disability in Canberra. In addition to comments made during the consultation, ADACAS provides the following feedback to the issues paper.

The new framework needs to address the following deficiencies in the existing system:
• The existing gap between ADE workplaces and open employment needs to be closed. Currently people are either stuck in ADE when they could have a pathway to open employment or are considered too able for ADE but not able enough for open employment. The new framework needs to explicitly recognise an expectation that people can learn skills in an ADE or post school environment which enable a pathway to open employment and be supported to achieve this.
• ADE and DES criteria for who can access the services leave people cut off from support that would benefit from it. New criteria needs to have no gaps.
• More emphasis needs to be placed on support to sustain employment
• Current output driven contracts for DES mean they seek to provide the minimum amount of support to be able to claim placements and get paid. This is not always effective for the person being supported.
• Better understanding that for some people with disability considerable additional time for learning and developing new skills is required. Existing education settings and on the job learning do not always account for this additional time.
• Discrimination in the workplace is not effectively addressed and supported. People currently seek advocacy support to deal with discrimination and it generally is in short supply or not available. The framework should address workplace discrimination on the basis of disability.

The new framework needs to articulate and address issues in the relationship between DES framework and:
• education sector
• Centrelink (eg fear of losing the health care card)
The inter-relationships between these systems currently result in people falling through the gaps and in-consistencies in the approach which cause difficulties for people with disability that impact on their readiness for and sustaining work. These need to be addressed by any new framework so that gaps are closed and perverse incentives and inequities are addressed.

On face value ADACAS accepts the proposed principles overlaying the new framework, however expresses caution about how these may be delivered.

We strongly oppose any suggestion that an individual package for employment support would be assessed, developed and delivered separately to any NDIS package a person may also have. For all people receiving an NDIS package, their employment support needs must be integrated into their NDIS package rather than duplicating systems with the resultant increase in red-tape and costs.

The workshop facilitator identified access to advocacy as a component of individual employment support packages. We agree that increased access to advocacy for employment issues is essential. However, consistent with the recommendations about advocacy made by the Productivity Commission regarding advocacy in the NDIS context, advocacy should be funded separately and be freely available to those who need it, without the complexity of trying to determine who might need it and how much a person may need during a planning/assessment process.

We look forward to the opportunity to contribute to the next phase of this project.