Mitch Fyfield is a good bloke, I've met him and he strikes me as sincere and very supportive of people who have a disability.
This is what he said on Wednesday (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-07/intellectually-disabled-workers-not-getting/5435290)
"I'm deeply concerned and disappointed about the decision of the Human Rights Commission," he told AM.
"I appreciate that they have the best of intentions, but if Australian Disability Enterprises were required to immediately move to a new wage assessment tool which would double the cost of providing employment, then ADEs - which most of them really struggle to break even as it is - a lot of ADEs would become unviable and cease to exist."
Mitch, your concerns are appreciated and when ADE's were first shaken up to improve conditions a number of assessment tools for determining appropriate wage levels were introduced. BSWAT was only one.
It was clear from the introduction of these tools that BSWAT was employer friendly, 'soft' and likely to produce a low wage. In the development of our ADE we compared BSWAT against other tools and chose to follow the Supported Wage Assessment path in the sure knowledge that it would produce the highest wage for our workers.
NOVA's ADE employees presently average more than 3 times the average hourly rate of workers in BSWAT assessed enterprises.
That's not a boast it is a simple reflection of what we knew would happen when we sought to fairly assess the productivity of our workers - that's all the SWS is: it's fair!
The facts are that sheltered workshops (and that's what we are talking about) have had many years to get their acts together - many have managed just fine and some have not. Those that have not are now being given a further year to adjust their business model.
A year is a hell of a long time to receive unfair and discriminatory treatment!
Whenever I write on sheltered workshops I cop some hate mail, before you bother I am not suggesting your son or daughter be thrown to the streets to fend for themselves. I only point out that sheltered workshops have been given years to sharpen their business models, many assessment tools were/are available BSWAT is only one - its not a choice of SWS Vs BSWAT there are other fair assessment tools available. Many Australian Disability Enterprises use fair assessment processes and assessment tools. The Commission only spoke to the deliberate use of a process that was patently unfair to workers. The High Court found that workers were being unfairly paid.
Almost unbelievably a further year has been given for this process to continue, the only consolation is it's not the 3 years that was asked for.
Fair work = Fair pay for EVERY Australian
Surely workers deserve that now?
For the information of readers I include my letter to the HRC from late last year:
Australian Human Rights Commission
GPO Box 5218
SYDNEY NSW 2001
11th October 2013
Application for Exemption under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
I am writing in opposition to the application by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) for exemption from sections 15 and 24 of the Disability Discrimination Act.
I am presently the Chief Executive of NOVA Employment, a Sydney based Disability Employment Service (DES) and I have worked in the field of disability employment for 26 years. In that time I have been responsible for vocational training programs, open employment services, an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) and a large Transition to Work program.
The Federal Court’s findings declare that the use of the BSWAT measure by 2 ADE’s unlawfully discriminated against Mr Nojin and Mr Prior.
Surely, that’s the end?
It would be difficult to imagine another Federal Court decision where discrimination was proved and then subsequently enshrined for as much as 3 years.
Indeed, how could this be?
Imagine the scene: the High Court brings down its verdict; I have discriminated against my non- disabled employees. I turn to the judges and say, ‘you are right, I have, but I am short of a quid and my accountant’s busy for a few years, do you think I might wait to fix things till then?’
Laughable if it were not the very issue.
There is a suggestion by FaHCSIA that the BSWAT may deliver a more favourable outcome in some circumstances – that should be readily proved from data presently available, if it is not then surely no further discrimination should be contemplated or risked?
I note the repeated use of the word ‘may’ in the ‘current situation’ section of the FaHCSIA application. Surely, if the BSWAT ‘may’ be a better tool in some circumstances, then it equally ‘may not’ and if it does not consistently deliver a fair outcome then surely there is an obligation to immediately source a fair and non-discriminating alternative?
The truth is that people with disability have been marginalised and underpaid in sheltered settings for decades.
It does not have to be that way.
Our ADE (Café 64) is located in Walgett, a small country town (pop 2200) in the north west of NSW. I invite you to visit this facility or at least to view some of our online material: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfwt5-L2KJw .
There are approximately 20 employees and 17 have significant disability.
My organisation does not use the BSWAT. We chose the Supported Wage Assessment process in the sure knowledge that was the most effective and fairest measure of our worker’s productivity.
FaHCSIA’s data clearly shows the result. Our workers typically are assessed as having a higher level of disability, they are paid almost 4 times the average wage for workers in ADE’s, they work slightly less hours and are far more likely to be Indigenous Australians.
They (the workers) are happy in the knowledge they receive a fair days pay for their contribution, that this contribution varies dependent upon ability but that higher skills are rewarded with higher wages - just like everywhere else.
The decision to use SWS costs us. Although recent developments and additions are moving Café 64 toward a much stronger bottom line, the service has to be supported by other parts of the organisation.
You will be strongly lobbied to the contrary of the views I express.
The truth is that services know their workers could earn more. Many could work in open employment and this can be easily proved through a consideration of results achieved when the free transfer of people between what is now DES and ADE programs was permitted.
Anecdotal information suggest collusion between assessors and programs that is not necessarily evilly motivated but that reflects the assertion made by FaHCSIA that ADE closure is a possibility if wages are increased.
Again, surely that is not the point. If I was imprisoned and the Federal Court ruled that my incarceration was unfair, under what circumstances could a reasonable argument be made that I might be better off in jail? That perhaps bad things might happen to me outside of my cell or I might skip a meal?
The arguments against immediate action to stop discrimination are either weak or spurious – the situation exposed by the experience of Mr Nojin and Mr Prior has been understood for many years. That workers were and are being underpaid has been accepted with a nudge and a wink and the repetition of the flawed arguments rehashed in this application.
Time to stop.
It is both reassuring and exciting to see the opportunity to end discrimination. That is in the interests of people with disability and the broader Australian community.
I invite you to come to Walgett and see for yourselves what is being achieved and I am more than happy to expand on any point made above or in relation to this unfair application.
Link to review of other assessment tools: http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/publications-articles/policy-research/analysis-of-wage-assessment-tools-used-by-business-services-0
Would you like a face-to-face meeting with Martin via Skype? Click the button below to make an appointment
Subscribe to this Blog - blog.novaemployment.com.au Copy the link above and paste it into your favourite Reader to subscribe to an RSS feed of this blog. To watch a short video explanation of RSS and how it helps you save time reading the web click here
Your Comments There are currently no comments on this article
The records keep falling! Following on from last post, I'd like to give some public recognition to my staff who have not only stood up under the tests of the Pandemic, they've continued to achieve record breaking results....
Never been so busy! At the risk of jinxing it, there's never been a better time to be looking for work - NOVA is getting scores of inquiries for workers, breaking all records each week with no sign of a let-up in sight!
The demand might be simply a post lockdown mini boom and maybe the bubble will pop - I have to say there's no sign of that....
July Rant There's an inquiry into Disability Employment Service and how best the new National Contract (2023) might serve the needs of the Commonwealth - note, that I haven't said, 'the needs of people with disability'....
Review Australia's $1bn disability employment service criticised over poor outcomes and reduced employment - https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/mar/31/australias-disability-employment-down-3-in-past-decade-as-service-scheme-criticised-for-poor-outcomes....
Thank you Mark Zuckerberg (not!) Friends of NOVA may have seen our Facebook page is down - courtesy Mark Zuckerberg NOVA/Focus are victims of much larger forces - no idea when or if we'll be restored - more as events unfold....
They Don't Count Gaining or holding formal qualifications can set a person up for a lifetime career. Holding appropriate qualifications that can lead to lifelong careers, tradespeople generally make a good income and enjoy well deserved respect....
Benchmarks To access NOVA Employment or any Disability Employment Service (DES), almost everyone is required to be assessed by the Services Australia Services (Centrelink) to determine their "Benchmark" hours: Benchmark hours are the pay point for service providers; being the minimum working hours required for the DES provider to bill the Government and the assessed maximum hours a person is deemed capable of working with DES support....
International Day of People with a Disability
International Day of People with a Disability
It's IDPwD and we have a 1 hour 'special' screening on SBS from 4.30 this afternoon.
Our Ryan Goodwin has done a great job of selecting some of the great entries from NOVA's 'Focusonability' short film festival - we love the Festival and hope that you'll love these films, gathered from around the world....
2020 - the first half When the going gets tough, the tough get going
Good! - Now they've left us, let's look at reality - when the going gets tough, many people suffer and dis-proportionally, people with disability suffer more....
Countdown Clock II
What's the countdown clock all about?
It's our closing time and a countdown to the end of a truly remarkable month of extraordinary effort by my staff....
Countdown Clock Regular viewers will have noticed a countdown clock ticking away (above)
What's that all about?
Can't say - you have to wait till 4.30pm (a little earlier for staff)
Just the best 3 One thing we all love is a winner which is why there's a smile on my face it will be pretty hard to shift.
There's a nightmare pandemic sweeping the world (carried off my mum), the economy has tanked in a never before seen disaster that's left more than a million Aussies unemployed and the only news seems to be bad news....
More than Money!
If asked, most of us would say we went to work for the money, to pay our bills or support our family.
All true, and yet work means so much more:
Prior to finding a job with NOVA employment Glenn* struggled to keep jobs for more than a few months and was generally working as a dishwasher in restaurants which he found to be quite unsatisfying work....
Life Changers II
How are you in the mornings (or evenings, or nights)? NOVA is an 'old school' Disability Employment Service - we find work in the general community with identical pay and conditions as those enjoyed by people who dont have a disability....
Life Changers Required! Received yesterday:
I was unemployed for 24 years because of my disability. I was looking for a job for the last 2 and half years. With the help of (NOVA Staff) I found suitable job and working in the law company for last one year....
Don't know about you but I have felt pretty bruised from all the horrible stuff brought upon us by this damn virus - seeing so many folk losing their jobs is particularly awful and the uncertainty generated for everyone, particularly for workers who have a disability is dreadful to see....
Best Ever II
Following from last post:
NOVA Employment has operated for 30 years. Comparing all results from previous years, February 2020 has been our most successful to date - Following on from January that's 2 in a row and every indication March will also be a record breaker....
NOVA Employment posted another 'best ever' result for the first month of 2020.
Despite the most dreadful natural disasters and with many businesses closed for the holidays, the NOVA team delivered more new workers than in any previous January results, beating past 5 years average by 25% and previous (2017) 'best ever' numbers by 5%....
Depressing cracked record!
A good friend will occasionally pull me up with the reminder that I have a tendency to rant, 'rave on slop jaw' if I remember correctly....
Big Win! Saturday night saw a big win for the NOVA team and for people with disability when our Podcast partners NOVA Entertainment- no relationship other than mates - received the following:
BEST ORIGINAL PODCAST - BRANDED
Focus On Ability; Nova Employment & the Nova Entertainment Podcast Team , NOVA Entertainment
BEST ORIGINAL PODCAST - UNBRANDED
Hamish & Andy; Hamish Blake & Andy Lee, PodcastOne Australi
Taken from the web: https://www....