I would like to express my appreciation to the Minister and the Dept for both their recognition of the need for reform in disability employment and the professional way in which the public consultation was conducted. I doubt that any participants at the meeting in Brisbane that I attended felt that they lacked the opportunity to express their views.
However I have serious concerns over some of the material presented at the consultation which appears to present an over simplistic approach to the issues involved and may lead to the taskforce not coming to grips with one of the core issues involved. For me the worst outcome from this process would be to commence a debate on how well trained service providers need to be to find jobs that do not exist.
My other concern is that a system may be created which excludes certain people from the opportunity to participate in paid employment. Already there is a tendency for DES organisations to place some people in the “too hard” basket.
The creation of more “sheltered workshops” would, I believe, act against the long term interests of people with a disability. While places like this exist they provide a justification for employers to not create places for disabled workers. I sincerely doubt that these workplaces can ever be made to appear profitable without a high degree of creative accounting.
I would urge the task force to focus on providing the motivation needed to encourage employers to create places for people with disabilities. Reforming DES providers may achieve little while employers have little incentive to provide jobs and their concerns over OH&S remain unanswered.