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Government discriminates against job seekers with disabilities



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MEDIA RELEASE 22 April 1998

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ACROD LIMITED

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& S i) - Q x jk . -

Tel: (06) 282 4333

I I V: (06) 282 4333

GOVERNMENT DISCRIMINATES AGAINST JOB SEEKERS WITH DISABILITIES

Fax: (06) 281 3488

E-mail: acrodnat@ozoniail.coin.au

No Wage Subsidies for May/June 1998

Postal:

People with disabilities, whose level of support to gain and keep employment requires assistance from programs funded by the Department of Health and Family Services, face two months of Government discrimination in May/June 1998. New arrangements for payment of

employer incentives - usually in the form of wage subsidies - for this group to enter the open workforce do not start until 1 July 1998.

PO Box 60

Curiin ACT 2605

Location:

Availability of employer incentives for job seekers supported by Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs new Jot) Network programs starts from May 1. One of the choices these programs will have in supporting people into employment will be to offer cash incentives to employers to take on their job seekers.

ACROD House

33 Thesiger Court

Deakin ACT 2600

Lack of access to employer incentive money for job seekers with disabilities with high support needs was raised with Government in September 1996 when consultation on the proposed employment reforms first began. After a strong lobby the Government announced late last year that $7.5m would be transferred from DEETYA to DHFS for use as wage subsidies for people with disabilities.

National Industry

Association for

Disability Services

The catch is that the money will not be transferred until 1 July 1998 - leaving these job seekers with no subsidies for two months - at a time when Job Network programs will be very active in the market.

People with disabilities can work very successfully in open employment with appropriate support. However they often also need employer incentives to compete with others to secure employment positions in the first instance. This will not be the case in May and June.

"Whilst we welcomed the announcement of the transfer of the $7.5m from 1 July 1998, ACROD and other disability support groups have been raising their concerns about the two month gap since November last year, but all requests and evidence appear to have been ignored by Government". Amanda Calwell-Smith, Chair of ACROD’s National Committee on Employment and Training (NCET) said today.

A C R O D a c κ υ υ L i M i i t u

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17 April 1998

Tel: (06) 202 4333

TTY: (06) 282 4333

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The Hon Dr David Kemp MR Minister for Employment, Education Training and Youth Affairs Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Fax: (06) 201 3488

E-mail: acrodiulilozomnil.coin.a

Postal:

KO Box 60

Curlin ACT 2605

Dear Minister

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES - LOSS OF WAGE SUBSIDIES FOR MAY/JUNE 1998

You will be aware that since the announcement of new employment reforms by your Government in late 1996 , particularly the cashing out of DEETYA programs, there has been ongoing concern within the disability field about access for people with disabilities to employer incentives.

ACROD raised these concerns with officers of both your Department and the Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) from a very early stage. ACROD undertook a survey of members in early 1997 in an attempt to identify the extent of usage of wage subsidies by our

members providing employment support to people with disabilities funded through DHFS’s Disability Services Program. A copy of this survey was sent to your predecessor, Senator Amanda Varistone, in April 1997. The survey clearly showed the level of use of DEETYA

employer incentives by clients of DHFS employment support programs.

Location:

ACKOO I louse

33 Thesiger Court

Deakin AC. I 2600

National Industry

Association for

Disability Services

Concerns were relieved to an extent in November 1997 when it was announced that DEETYA would from 1 July 1998, be transferring $7.5m to DHFS to be used for wage subsidies for people with disabilities supported by DHFS employment support programs. ACROD did

however immediately raise concerns about the two month gap (May and June 1998) resulting from this announcement. This can be seen as nothing but Government discrimination against people with disabilities who require more support to secure employment and are therefore assisted under DHFS funded programs rather than the more generic

DEETYA employment support programs.

Page 2 17 April 1998 ACROD National Industry Association for Disability Services

c o p y

If DHFS programs have no access to wage subsidies for the two month period this discriminates against job seekers who are double disadvantaged. ACROD has continued to express its Members concerns about these arrangements to officers of both DEETYA and

DHFS since November.

In early April ACROD’s National Committee on Employment and Training (NCET) met in Canberra. The Committee, ACROD’s major policy Committee on employment and training issues, comprises ACROD Members from all States and Territories representing the

interests of Members in their particular jurisdiction. The issue of concern about access to wage subsidies for people with disabilities was again a major issue for discussion.

The Committee asked me to write to you expressing the continued deep concern of employment support service providers about the situation and the discrimination the Commonwealth Government is showing towards people with disabilities who because of their high support needs

receive employment support through DHFS. Lack of access to employer incentives for the two month period will have a serious effect on the employment outcomes of people with moderate to severe disabilities who are able to work successfully in open employment with on-the-job support.

It is understood that your Department will be continuing to pay employer incentives under the old system (ie JobStart etc) for some months whilst approvals made before 1 May 1998 are fully honoured.

ACROD asks that as these systems will still be in place you make the decision that the old employer incentives continue to be approved for people with disabilities supported by DHFS programs until 30 June 1998. Such action would confirm to Australians with disabilities your government's commitment to equity for all Australians

I would be happy to meet with you to discuss the issue.

Your sincerely

Amanda Calwell-Smith Chair ACROD NCET