Report finds new Disability Employment Services not better at helping people

28 May 2021

With a Boston Consulting evaluation finding that the new model of Disability Employment Services is not better at helping people with disability get jobs, ACOSS is calling on the Government to scrap punitive mutual obligation requirements and to ensure that employment services are designed more effectively.

The evaluation of the Disability Employment Services program showed it enabled providers to profit from unemployment without actually helping more people get jobs than the model it was meant to be an improvement on. It also showed that providers described the mutual obligation framework as unhelpful and this added to the inflexibility the DES participants reported.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “The more than 1 million people in the jobactive system and the 300,000 people signed up in Disability Employment Services need real support to find paid work, not demeaning punishment. We have known that employer discrimination against people with disabilities is a main reason why they are overlooked for jobs, and this is where change is needed at a broader societal level.”

ACOSS Senior Policy Advisor Dr Simone Casey said: “The issues identified in the report are a result of marketisation and mutual obligation having evolved in such a way that the whole model has been failing for too long. Worryingly it appears a perennial problem of providers funneling people into training for training sake has been happening again. Even though reforms are on the way, they need to happen in such as way that the problems of the past are not reproduced.”

The Minister announced a welcome review of Disability Employment Services, and ACOSS urges the Government to ensure the recommendations of the Expert Panel on employment services are realised. ACOSS has consistently argued for more and better targeted reforms to make sure those who actually need help get it and to abolish punitive activities like Work for the Dole.

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