“Reform must not be rushed”: Peak body comments ahead of Disability Royal Commission

Peak body National Disability Services is raising concerns that the government is rushing critical sector reform, ahead of the Disability Royal Commission’s examination of Disability Employment Services this week.

The peak body, National Disability Services (NDS) says the Federal Government is rushing through yet another redesign of the country’s Disability Employment Services (DES) program and is calling for an extension of the consultation process to ensure people with disability and the services that support them are properly heard.

NDS CEO Laurie Leigh says the current system is a bureaucratic nightmare for providers and warned “we cannot rush reform if we want to get it right”.

“Time needs to be taken to gather evidence and identify what works, consult with the people who will be directly impacted, review the data, test and trial the model and review the outcomes; so far this has not occurred,” Ms Leigh said.

“This sector has been severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, so we need to ensure that proper consultation can be undertaken to ensure this model is fit for purpose for years to come.”

“We are calling for the new model, set to be introduced in July 2023, to be delayed until July 2024.

“We’ve seen changes to DES rushed through before and we don’t want a repeat of that.”

Ms Leigh said future-proofing the system is critical in streamlining the process and unlocking opportunities for Australians with disability.

“Participation in employment is a basic human right and fundamental to the aspiration of individuals to lead a normal life through experiencing the dignity of work.”

“People with disability are a large pool of underutilised labour who are capable of bringing a wide range of skills, talents and abilities to Australian workplaces.”

The public hearing into the experience of people with disability engaging with Disability Employment Services will run from February 23-25.

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