Cheryl Fitzpatrick

Service provider

I comment as a private citizen who has a disability, but my comments are informed by over 20 years experience working with students with disabilities in TAFE NSW. I have witnessed many varieties of disability employment service provision. I believe the current DES model fails people with disabilities for several reasons. Chief among these is the high staff turnover, which probably results from relatively low pay rates for case workers. The workers also seem to have little experience in the field of disability and there does not seem to be a consistent approach to the qualifications required to work in a DES.
I believe the requirements for DES clients to meet Centrelink activity test and participation requirements can be a barrier to some people with disability. The entire Centrelink system seems based on punitive treatment of unemployed people and those with disability face the double challenge of managing their disability AND meeting their participation requirements.

The system lacks compassion. This has become increasingly obvious with each increase in eligibility requirements for the Disability Support Pension. There are many people with significant disability who no longer qualify for DSP. They are required to job seek, or participate in training, but are given minimal assistance to do so and onerous reporting requirements to meet. I believe this is the reason for poor outcomes for clients of DES’s

I sincerely believe that the dismantling of the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service, coupled with the above mentioned DSP restrictions, has done a great disservice not only to injured workers, but to people with disability in general. Provision of care for people with disabilities is a core requirement of a civil society and I believe Australia is failing in this. I hope that this reform of the DES system is based on compassion rather than funding targets and statistics-based outcomes.