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Rishworth and Shorten: Keep grifting Disability Employment Services out of NDIS
Harmful and failed industry should not be inflicted on more disabled people
The Antipoverty Centre is deeply disturbed by today’s news that the government will direct NDIS funding to Disability Employment Services providers.
According to previously published data from the Department of Social Services that is no longer available online, each month about 1–2% of people on the DES caseload have been in a job lasting a year or more.* The whole industry deserves to have its contracts torn up.
*The phrase “each month” was erroneously omitted from this statement when first published.
Included below: comments from Antipoverty Centre spokesperson and NDIS participant Kristin O’Connell; additional background on DES; crisis line contact information.
The government says it wants to do something about achieving employment for disabled people and it would be nice if that were true, but this announcement shows they couldn’t care less.
Social services minister Amanda Rishworth and NDIS minister Bill Shorten must be transparent – be clear about who asked for this. It certainly wasn’t disabled people, who resoundingly panned DES in a review conducted earlier this year.
Quotes attributable to Antipoverty Centre spokesperson and NDIS participant Kristin O’Connell
I feel horrified for every NDIS participant who’s been forced to interact with Disability Employment Services hearing this news today.
This announcement heralds the introduction of a shadow “mutual” obligations regime and will distress many NDIS participants like me who hoped we had escaped abusive and incompetent employment services providers for good.
Shorten and Rishworth say they want to stop so-called rorts in the NDIS – so they decided to funnel more public money to grifting DES providers through it. It’s perverse.
The NDIS is far from perfect but increasing the involvement of Disability Employment Services providers can only make things worse. DES has been failing disabled people for as long as it’s existed.
The government has again ignored the voices of disabled people and those who represent us in favour of self-serving private providers, who will be the only ones that benefit from this devastating shift in how the NDIS operates.
Pushing a failed industry on people discriminated against and excluded from the labour market because of our disabilities won’t get us jobs but it will expose us to harm.
Quotes attributable to Antipoverty Centre spokesperson and co-author of the PWDA DES review submission Jay Coonan:
This is an economically and socially flawed proposal. Tackle discrimination in the labour market first, establish higher disability employment quotas in the public sector and then build better services that don’t feed off the misery of the disabled.
We know DES has practically no employment outcomes, we know the fees going to providers are high and the returns infinitesimally small. So why on earth is Labor crying about NDIS expenditure one day, then committing more NDIS money to a system that has proven to be an absolute failure, and is practically torturing the poorest in our society?
The answer to employment barriers is not funnelling money to these failed services, but to tackle the discrimination in the labour market – inflexible employers, unsuitable conditions and a society hostile to disabled people.
Giving money to this failed industry is not the answer and if the Labor party had paid attention to the community, and not the providers, it would know this.
This is a scheme designed purely to shift money from the NDIS to offset the extraordinary cost of DES in the vain hope of improved outcomes. This is not going to end in the budget savings the government thinks it will – it will just lead to more disabled people hurt and more cash for providers.
The only thing that makes sense of this proposal is that Labor want lay the groundwork for introducing compulsory “mutual” obligations for those on the NDIS, just like the did for DSP recipients under 35, which would lead to incalculable disaster and suffering.
Media contact: 0413 261 362 / media at antipovertycentre.org
The Antipoverty Centre has produced two key submissions related to Disability Employment Services and its failures on behalf of People with Disability Australia, the peak body for organisations that represent disabled people.
These submissions were based on an in-depth survey of nearly 300 disabled people in the welfare system, the majority of whom have been forced to use employment services.
Access our submissions
To the Department of Social Services Disability Employment Services review: pwd.org.au/des-review-submission
To the Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry into the purpose, intent and adequacy of the Disability Support Pension: pwd.org.au/in-our-own-words-submission-to-the-senate-community-affairs-references-committee-inquiry
Crisis support and counselling services
If you need support you can seek guidance, counselling or crisis help from the below organisations or talk to someone you trust.
Suicide Call Back Service – general: 1300 659 467
SANE Australia – general: 1800 187 263
13YARN – for First Nations people: 13 92 76
National Counselling and Referral Service – for disabled people: 1800 421 468
Headspace – for young people: 1800 650 890
QLife – fo LGBTQIA+ people: 1800 184 527
Full Stop – for people who have experienced sexual harassment and assault: 1800 385 578
Embrace Mental Health – multilingual service: embracementalhealth.org.au
MensLine – for men: 1300 789 978
Brother to Brother – for First Nations men: 1800 435 799
About the Antipoverty Centre
The Antipoverty Centre was established in May 2021 by people living on Centrelink payments to counter problems with academics, think tanks and others in the political class making harmful decisions on behalf of people they purport to represent.
We have deep expertise in poverty, disadvantage and unemployment, because we live it. Our goal is to help ensure the voices and rights of people living in poverty are at the centre of social policy development and discourse. We believe there should be no decision made about us without us.
The Antipoverty Centre is not aligned with any political party and does not accept funding that places political constraints on our work.