050 Worklink DirectEmploymentServices by 1tjy8J

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									                  Worklink Employment Support Group Inc and Direct Employment Service
                           IMPROVEMENT OF DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
                                                FROM 2012
                               RESPONSE TO KEY CONSULTATION QUESTIONS


Background:
Worklink Employment Support Group Inc. and Direct Employment Service have been providers
of Disability Employment Services in the Cairns region since 1991. Together we currently
deliver both the Employment Support Service (ESS) and Disability Management Service (DMS)
under the current DES contract 2010-2012. We welcome the opportunity to provide feedback to
the Minister for Employment Participation, the Hon Kate Ellis, regarding the “Improvement of
Disability Employment Services 2012”


Key Consultation Questions:
Q: What policy refinements are required to ensure services remain focussed on assisting
job seekers with disability gain and keep ongoing and sustainable employment?
A: (1) The removal of the five day rule where a worker voluntarily leaves their job.
Currently if a worker leaves their job voluntarily, they are allowed 5 working days to find another
job to continue counting towards an employment outcome. If they do not secure another job
within the 5 days then time already counted towards an employment outcome is lost and
commences again when a new job is found. This rule has a huge impact on DES providers who
are working with job seekers who have an illness or disability of an episodic nature. Not only
does it impact on the ability to meet the program KPI’s but it has a significant financial impact on
the provider. For example once a job seeker is placed in employment their Employment
Assistance payments cease and no further funding is received for the job seeker until they
achieve a 13 or 26 week outcome.
“Jamie was supported into employment by his DES provider and an employment support plan
was established. Jamie had a history of instability in employment due to his mental health
issues which impacted on his ability to get on with others in the workplace. It was agreed that if
Jamie began to have issues with other colleagues he would discuss the issues with his
Employment Coordinator (EC) so strategies and supports could be implemented immediately so
his job was not lost. Jamie had been in the job 11 weeks, when his employer contacted the EC
to advise that Jamie had not shown up for work for 2 days and had made no contact. The EC
contacted Jamie, who refused to discuss his reasons for leaving the job and stated he, would
not be returning or looking for another job at this time. 4 weeks later Jamie was regretful of his
decision and ready to resume job search.”
Jamie was only 2 weeks short of achieving a 13 week outcome in employment but unfortunately
due to his abandoning the job the 11 weeks he had accrued towards an outcome is lost and will
commence from the beginning again when he secures another job.
We recommend that the 5 day break in employment be removed for people with a disability of
an episodic nature who leave employment voluntarily and be replaced with that of an allowable
break which is 20 working days. This will allow a more realistic time frame to work with the
person to stabilise their situation and assist them to find a new job.
Q: What purchasing process is the most appropriate vehicle to improve the access of job
seekers with disability and employers to high performing DES providers?
   A: (1) Extend the DES contract for a further 12 months as the current contract is only two
   and a quarter years in duration. This will allow further time to iron out current contract
   issues and for providers to be in a more competitive position for the procurement of the
   new contract.
   As we are only ten months into the current Deed period, we have yet to receive full
   Organisational Health Check Reports relating to DES KPI requirements and comparative data to
   enable our services to measure our performance against the ESA and national averages. As
   the procurement process is set to go to tender in September 2011, and performance for the
   June 2011 star ratings is determined by placements made by December 31st 2010, then
   effectively there is little time for DES providers to improve our performance for procurement
   purposes.
(2) Partial rollover of contracts for providers with star ratings 3 or above. Remainder to go to
    open tender
   In addition to the 12 months extension to the current DES contract we support the partial
   rollover of contracts for providers with star ratings 3 or above. This would ensure job seekers
   with a disability would continue to receive a quality service from a high performing DES
   provider.
(3) DES to remain a specialist program i.e. not to be mainstreamed with JSA.
   The DES model of service delivery is unique from that of mainstream employment services in
   that it is a place and train model, specifically designed to support people with a disability to
   participate in open employment with both on and off the job support from the provider as
   required. It is essential that the Disability Employment Services model remains as such and
   does not become part of Stream Services. The DES and JSA models both provide excellent
   outcomes for their job seekers but are significantly different in culture, the level of pre
   employment assistance and post placement support for job seekers and JSA is not a conducive
   environment for staff with specialist qualifications. People with a disability need individualised
   support by specialist services underpinned by the Disability Services Standards. Stream
   services are not designed to provide this level of support.
   (4) Retention of specialist mental health employment services.
   The option to deliver specialist services such as indigenous services or services to people with
   a specific disability such as psychiatric disability/mental illness should remain in the next
   contract. Providers of such services have spent many years training staff in their specific area of
   expertise or have employed specialist practitioners, for example Psychologists to provide
   specialist interventions for job seeker to overcome barriers to employment. Worklink is a
   specialist provider of employment services to people with a Psychiatric Disability/Mental Illness.
   We have two Psychologists who work closely with our job seekers to address barriers to
   employment such as anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, addictive behaviours to
   name a few.


   Q: How might the DES model encourage and support providers to better address the
   needs of employers, including employers in the private sector, those operating nationally
   and those in growth industries?
   A: (1) Access to an Employment Pathway Fund or similar for various jobseeker/employer
   support to be flexibly delivered by the provider.
   The current DES contract makes no provision for an Employment Pathway Fund(EPF) The EPF
   is available to the JSA to pay for the job seeker to attend qualified training, purchase work
   clothing, interpreter services such as Auslan, obtain licences such as fork lift, blue card, white
   card etc, and many other forms of employment assistance. The DES provider on the other hand
   must provide assistance to job seekers from their Employment Assistance payments. For
   example where a job seeker is classified as Level 1 we receive $890 per quarter to provide
   them with employment assistance. This makes it very restrictive in the amount of assistance
   that can be provided. This acts as a barrier for many DES clients when trying to compete with
   JSA clients. Employers are aware of payments and incentives available from JSA providers
   making DES clients less attractive in comparison.
   (2) Increase the number of PPP courses available to job seekers to meet the skills gaps
   employers are facing.
   PPP courses have provided a great opportunity for people on income benefit to gain skills and
   qualifications they would not have had access to previously due to the inhibitive costs of
   training. Recently PPP courses have been limited, leaving little training options for job seekers.
   We propose that the Government commits further funding for PPP courses so people with
   disabilities can participate in work related courses that will encourage employment outcomes or
   career path progression.
   (3)Access to higher wage subsidy payments to compete with JSA providers
   Currently DES providers can offer employers a wage subsidy of up to $1,500 (excl GST) over a
   26 week period of employment to supplement the job seekers wages during the initial training
   period. This is a minor incentive for employers when compared to wage subsidies delivered for
   jobseekers through JSA providers.
   We suggest that through the implementation of an Employment Pathway Fund for DES
   providers, that these ‘pooled’ funds could be distributed more effectively and flexibly on a needs
   basis to clients/employers. Similar flexibility as provided to JSA providers under their EPF
   guidelines would be expected so that DES providers could tailor incentive packages for clients
   of varying needs or barriers to employment. This would improve job seeker chances of securing
   employment in an open and competitive labour market.
   Workforce participation rates for people with a mental illness in Australia are only 29%
   compared to 47% for people with a physical disability. In addition Cairns has one of the highest
   unemployment rates in the country. If we are to improve participation rates for people with a
   mental illness and reduce the unemployment rate then we must offer a greater incentive to the
   employer.
(4) DES providers to have access to Job Placement services
   DES providers to have access to Job Placement services and funding, similar to JSA providers
   so that they can network or provide services to employers not necessarily under the DES
   program. This will assist with employer/provider relationships that may create or maintain
   relationships for future DES placements. A similar model for Job Placement services as adopted
   in the Job Placement Licence contract 2006-2009 should be extended to DES providers and
   JSA providers only.
   Q: How can DES be further improved to help meet the Government’s commitment to
   close the gap in employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians by 2018?
   A: (1) Worklink and Direct Employment Services currently provide DES in the aboriginal
   community of Yarrabah, where the unemployment rate rose to over 85% with the loss of CDEP
   in July 2009.
   There is little or no opportunity for employment in Yarrabah, as there is no industry to support
   the community and transport is limited or too costly for people to commute to Cairns (over
   70klms away) to seek work. In order to provide skills training and employment options for the
   people of Yarrabah, Government needs to work closely with the leaders of the community to
   explore business development opportunities which will be sustainable in the long term.
(2) DES service providers need funding for the implementation of training in meaningful courses
and life skills. At the moment training is not appropriate for indigenous people with
disabilities/mental health. Money needs to be made available for DES to train indigenous
clients in numeracy & literacy, computer skills and life skills in conjunction with strengths based
counselling and mentoring.


Q: What changes to employment services in remote areas would better deliver
employment outcomes and meaningful participation activities?
A: (1) Access to travel funds
Enable DES to be delivered more flexibly in remote areas i.e. providers in non remote areas to
have access to travel funds to deliver ‘on ground’ services such as in the Cape York region of
Qld. Therefore local JSA providers may not necessarily be the only providers providing DES
services in remote locations and specialist DES program providers may be able to provide
services to these regions and clients.
Q: What future initiatives can be taken to reduce administrative requirements, balanced
against the need for appropriate accountability and performance information?
A: (1) Review Guidelines for collection of Documentary Evidence
The securing of documentary evidence such as pay slips can be difficult. Some job seekers see
it as an invasion of privacy and for many with paranoid schizophrenia it causes suspicion and
mistrust. We recommend that a declaration detailing place of employment, hours worked and
rate of pay be completed and signed by the job seeker at the end of both the 13 and 26 week
outcome period.


Additional
Abolish or overhaul Job Access.
The service of Job Access is an unnecessary and unwieldy process of providing services to
clients through the Employment Assistance Fund. Once again many of these services could be
delivered flexibly by the provider with the implementation of an Employment Pathway Fund
using similar guidelines to those already provided to JSA providers.


Providers through accredited assessors could purchase workplace assessments, supported
wage assessments etc and implement through a range of internal organisational procedures
without the intervention and approval of an external service provider.


Similar to JSA, providers would be able to tailor these services to the needs of the
client/employer in a flexible and more timely manner. Therefore, a limited reliance on the Job
Access service would be required in a new contract model.

								
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