The Morrison Government is committed to delivering effective supports to help people with disability into employment and is implementing improvements to the Disability Employment Services program.
A review, prepared by Boston Consulting Group for the Department of Social Services, evaluated the DES program since the reforms in 2018 and put forward suggestions to enhance employment outcomes for people with disability, including:
- Improving the delivery model so that participant and employer needs are better met
- Creating an integrated government approach to the provision of disability and employment support
- Addressing the sustainability of the DES program caseload and expenditure
- Ultimately, improving the number and quality of employment outcomes for people with disability.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the review was one of many activities the department was undertaking to advise Government on how the investment in DES could be better tailored to meet the needs of job seekers with disability and employers looking to fill jobs.
“The reforms have provided DES participants with more choice over which service providers they want to work with and more access to education supports,” Minister Ruston said.
“However, the review found that the reforms had also resulted in an unsustainable increase to the caseload that was not being matched with a commensurate increase in employment outcomes for people with disability.
“In the 2021-22 Budget we have already acted on this and now service providers will only be paid for an education outcome when courses align with the National Skills Commission skill shortage reports.
“In addition, we are also now providing the option for job seekers with a disability to manage their own job search through digital services where they chose to do so.”
Further work is underway including developing a performance framework, strengthening mechanisms for effectively addressing poor performance and considering options to extend flexibilities to service delivery that were introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A new DES Star Ratings system is also being developed to make performance levels more transparent for participants and providers, and enable participants to make a more informed decision when it comes to their choice of provider,” Minister Ruston said.
“We are also introducing new measures from January 2022 that support the needs of employers and jobseekers with disability, such as expanding choice for jobseekers and prioritising investment in education placements for training courses to target recognised skill shortages in the labour market.
“Going forward, we will be working closely with people with disability, employers and providers to develop a new disability employment support model to replace the current DES program, with public consultations to begin in mid-2021.”
The department also commissioned a review of how the Employment Services Assessment (ESAts) process was undertaken, including determining how it could be improved and better targeted.
The review found that ESAts are carried out with a high degree of professionalism and identified opportunities to streamline the process and tighten guidelines to ensure better matching of jobseekers to appropriate employment services.