Thu, 16 May 2013 - 21:00
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Disability Employment Services

Mr Fletcher asked the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, in writing, on 5 February 2013:

In respect of the closure of Progressive Employment Personnel Inc. in Hornsby, a member of the Government's Disability Employment Services, (a) why did its funding cease, and (b) what employment services will now operate in that area to fulfil the employment service needs of people with disability.

 

Mr Shorten: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The business of all Disability Employment Services - Employment Support Service providers with a Star rating or 3 or below was subject to open tender. Progressive Employment Personnel received a 3 Star rating and was therefore invited to demonstrate its capacity through the tender.

The outcomes of the DES tender process are the result of an independent purchasing process undertaken by the Department of Education, Employment Relations and Workplace Relations (the Department) under strict probity arrangements. In awarding tenders, the Department took into account each organisation's demonstrated understanding of disability employment services and the most effective ways to meet the needs of job seekers with disability; past performance; management, governance and value for money; local community links and partnerships; and strategies to meet the needs of local employers and job seekers. All decisions were subject to a 12-step checking process. Unfortunately, Progressive Employment Personnel Inc. Hornsby, was not successful in the tender process.

As a result of the DES tender, job seekers with disability will benefit from a 50 per cent increase in the number of service sites across the country; bringing the total number of sites to more than 1650. In addition, new specialist providers and an increased number of mental health specialists will more closely meet the needs of the community. From March, job seekers have access to better services than ever before, through greater access to high performing employment service providers. On average, a job seeker moving from a 1 star to a 5 star provider will be more than twice as likely to get a job and around seven times as likely to have kept that job after 26 weeks.

Australia ranks just 21 out of 29 OECD countries for employment participation for people with a disability. This is not good enough. Through record investment in supporting job seekers with disability, and by pursuing important reforms - such as uncapping services and conducting an open tender for DES -the Government is working to improve employment outcomes for Australians with disability. The decision to put DES to a competitive tender has been welcomed by disability advocates, including the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and the National Council on Intellectual Disability.

The Government is absolutely committed to improving services and opportunities for people with disability. In addition to the life-changing National Disability Insurance Scheme, we have made revolutionary changes to employment services for people with disability. We have removed the cruel caps on services that existed under the previous system, resulting in a 46 per cent increase in the number of people receiving services and a 100 per cent increase in the number of people securing jobs. In addition, we are investing a record $3.2 billion over 4 years on helping people with disability to secure work. The decision to conduct the first full competitive tender for DES was a continuation of the Government's commitment to improving services for people with disability.

The Hornsby area is covered by the Central Western Sydney and Northern Sydney Employment Service Areas (ESAs). All participants who were connected with Progressive Employment Personnel have been connected to other providers in the local area.

No job seeker with disability in the Hornsby area will be without employment services as a result of the tender.

In the Central Western Sydney ESA the following organisations now deliver the Disability Employment Services - Employment Support Service:

Ability Options

Break Thru People Solutions

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Jobsupport (Moderate Intellectual Disability Specialist)

TELDRAW

The Deaf Society of New South Wales (Deaf and Hearing Impaired Specialist)

The Northcott Society

The ORS Group

Wise Employment (Mental Health Specialist).

In the Northern Sydney ESA the following organisations now deliver the Disability Employment Services - Employment Support Service:

Achieve Australia (Intellectual Disability/Mental Health Specialist)

Castle Personnel Services

Cerebral Palsy Alliance (Acquired Brain Injury, Physical, Sensory and Cerebral Palsy Specialist)

Job Centre Australia

Jobsupport (Moderate Intellectual Disability Specialist)

Sydney Counselling Centre

Sydney Rehabilitation Services

The Northcott Society

The ORS Group.