In the over 20 years I have been involved with vocational programs for people who have a disability there have been many changes in emphasis and direction and, in attempts to meet these, a wide range of demands placed upon service providers.
These shifts have required a diversion of funds and while some have been fairly cheap in compliance, others have been tremendously expensive. The present trend is to move specialist employment agencies such as NOVA towards the generalist Job Network’s model of quality measurement, the Star Rating System. To get there we are being asked to achieve several Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).
It’s not the place of this document to make comment on either the present KPI’s or the Star Rating System. However it should be stated that it is the author’s belief that the ignorance and imperatives that drive them are presently reducing the number of options available to people who have a disability and pose a genuine risk to the future of specialist employment services across Australia.
If I have a hope it is that the values collectively held dear by those dinosaurs that remain committed to open and supported employment will eventually overcome these present trends as they have past errors.
What then are those values?
They are the values of choice and control, of participation and integration, of the intrinsic value of each person and their individual right to participate in employment with and within the rest of Australian society.
At NOVA Employment we believe absolutely that:
1. Each person and every member of Australian society has an intrinsic right to employment: It doesn’t matter how ‘disabled’ the individual is, or the nature of their disability, every person has both the capability and the right to work.
2. Each person that comes to us has primacy in their choices for employment, in the services they receive and the level of support that is provided to them. We believe choosing your job is the first step to enjoying your job.
3. Career satisfaction is dependent upon control, determining an appropriate level of assistance and support to maintain employment is a pre-requisite for long term job retention.
4. We believe that this employment should be within the community in which the person lives, in a normal business with wages and entitlements equal to non-disabled co-workers employed in the same position and carrying out the same work.
5. Service providers must look at aspiration and ability first and focus on individual strengths and skills rather than classifying options on the basis of impairment or deficit.
6. Integration into the social fabric of a workplace is a vital accompaniment to employment and that services should ensure such support as part of their vocational programs. And finally,
7. We believe that, since traditional employment services have largely failed people with disability, NOVA must adapt and change the methods it uses to meet each persons needs rather than impose a system of product upon service users.
These are the values that underpin our service delivery.
These values were with us before ‘Stars’ and artificial KPI’s.
These values are more noble than compliance checks and audits - they transcend such. These values were with us before the Disability Service Standards and while the Standards might compliment our values, it is our values that will ensure our success.
These are the values that sit well with us and that we believe are right for the people who access our services. They'll be with us after 'Stars' and holding to them is the best 'KPI' we could ever give.
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