Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth says some disability employment services are “poor performing” and she is looking at how to better measure their quality as part of an overhaul of the welfare program.
The Federal Government is now looking at introducing new KPIs for disability employment services (DES) to better include the views of disabled people themselves, with Ms Rishworth saying it was clear some services had failed to deliver.
It comes amid a wider push from the Government to lift the employment rate for disabled people which has had little improvement since 2003.
The DES program is part of the Australian welfare system and is a program for jobseekers whose main barrier to employment is their disability. Run by privatized organizations, these services are meant to help disabled people find work and support them in their jobs once they have found positions.
There are currently just under 300,000 DES participants.
“At the moment we’ve got a mixed bag in terms of Disability Employment Services. We’ve got some really very good disability employment services, but we’ve also got some poor performing disability employment services,” Ms Rishworth said.
“I am very keen to see what we can do to boost the quality of these services because that is not being measured now. It is a KPI, but I don’t believe the experience or the quality has been measured. It’s been only a very narrow KPI that these disability employment services have been measured and rewarded for.”
Ms Rishworth said there had been a “lottery” of whether participants ended up with a good provider.
“Some of the comments that (participants) made to me about not feeling that their experience has been taken into consideration about how a disability service is rated, I found that quite hard to understand, because of course, they are the consumer.”
“They are the people consuming this service so they are the ones whose views need to be taken into consideration.”
The Minister will hold a briefing for providers on the next steps in reform in the coming weeks.
Ms Rishworth also said there needed to be a wider change in community attitudes towards the employment of disabled people.
Australian of The Year Dylan Alcott was recently awarded Government funding for a new website specifically designed to help disabled people seeking work.
He said many disabled people wanted to work but were being held back by inaccurate perceptions about what they were capable of.
Most recent figures show just 53 percent of people with disabilities are in the labor force, compared with about 84 percent of those without a disability.