Dara Fraser

In order for Supported Employment to have a strong future for individuals like my son, some consideration needs to be made to keep some ADE’s functioning as they have been-not all are horror stories. My 31 year old son has enjoyed his workplace since leaving high school for both the social aspects and the sense of doing a good job and getting a fortnightly payslip. Considering the level of support he needs from time to time, and his work output, I would say his pay level has been appropriate. After all, Australia has an adequate Disability Support Pension to augment the low wage.

His alternative would be a day program of some sort, not open employment, and at a significantly higher cost to the Australian Taxpayer, assuming he could find a full time place at one. Despite his high support needs, my son has been enjoying living in his own flat with both a disabled and non-disabled flatmate for almost 6 years. If his days were not filled going to and from his ADE, his NDIS budget would be much higher-assuming of course he could get an appropriate budget approved.

It seems to me that the policy makers and eloquent advocates of integration completely ignore the abilities and preferences of those workers with high support needs. In the rush to give some more equality, people like my son may risk losing the only dignified work place they can manage. In a perfect world everyone would be able to contribute to their community according to their abilities and receive support according to their needs. Australia should be very proud of attempting to achieve the latter via the NDIS, however that is turning out to be a far more expensive proposition than even the Productivity Commission anticipated, therefore, some economy of scale needs to be considered in providing a dignified work place for everyone, of all abilities. Many young people without any disability are having great difficulty finding permanent full time work today, and without traditional ADE’s some people with high support needs will NEVER find work placements. That’s the reality that no one seems to talk about.

Continuation of his full time and secure ADE workplace is what my son is hoping for, because he will always need a higher level of support than any job training program can offer. I believe the policymakers should also listen to the enlightened person centered ADE’s that are trying in very difficult circumstances to provide a vital service that will not be replicated by even the most expensive training/transition programs.