Ashton Bartz

I am currently employed, but I received Centrelink and was engaged with a Disability Employment Service (specifically, HELP Enterprises) for roughly five years. I have autism and at the time was dealing with additional mental illness (PTSD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and agoraphobia) which made it difficult to work. This was from a period of 2013 to 2018.

My experience with my DES provider was horrific. I had multiple people involved in my case that had no understanding of disability or autism, and triggered numerous meltdowns and impacted my mental health to the point of contemplating suicide. Because DES providers are incentivised to get people into jobs, I was pushed to apply for work that was not appropriate for my disability as well as to apply for full-time work, despite Centrelink finding that I could only work for fifteen hours a week. I was lied to about this and was constantly gaslit, and could not get clear answers on what was expected of me. I had two instances where my payment was cut because my DES provider had not accurately lodged paperwork, meaning I was unable to pay for needed medication and bills.

In the end, despite them claiming it was due to their own intervention, I found my own job and applied and interviewed by myself. The most they provided was a GO Card so I could commute there.

My experience is that DES providers are woefully inadequate and underqualified to support people with disabilities. Frankly, I would rather die than have to interact with one again. The government urgently needs to intervene to ensure that DES providers are adequately trained to work with people with disabilities.