Mismanagement at the highest level seems destined to continue despite a change in name for the people that hand out money to disability employment programs. The present status is that these may be designed to help people with a disability find work or may be constructed to extract profit from the Australian public.
‘Performance’ management is delivered through a process titled ‘Star Ratings’ an Orwellian fiction that recently (March 2013) drove dozens of excellent programs out of the industry, saw hundreds of highly talented staff drift away and abandoned thousands of workers with disability to their fate.
The nonsense that is the ‘Star Ratings’ (I need to point out that 16 out of 17 NOVA sites significantly improved in the recently released figures) continues to oppress innovation, reward gaming and further threaten the prospects of people with disability, seemingly without protest.
Stars are awarded on a scale of 1-5 with ‘5’ Stars being (supposedly) a recognition of excellence and ‘1’ a ticket to oblivion.
It is a wretched system that MUST always produce results to a pre-determined formula – programs can’t all be 5 Stars, approximately 30% must be 1-2 and 30% must be 4-5 with the rest puddling along in the middle – doesn’t matter what everyone does, how hard they work or what results they achieve, while individual sites may improve (as we have) the distribution rates remain the same.
What does that mean?
Let’s look at recent comment from the body that is supposed to represent disability employment services:
“Of the 87 DES-ESS contracts rated one or two stars, 74 (85.06%) were generalist and 13 (14.94%) were specialist. The majority of one and two star specialist DES-ESS contracts belong to Vision Australia (2, 15.38%, Blind and Vision Impaired) and Ostara Australia (2, 15.38%, Mental Health), see Figure 9. The majority of one and two star generalist DES-ESS contracts belong to WISE Employment (9, 12.16%), Job Futures (5, 6.76%), Sureway Employment and Training (4, 5.41%) and Community Bridging Services (4, 5.41%)”
“As signalled in the DES-ESS request for tender, the five year contracting period is subject to at least two business reallocations. Performance at a one or two star level may be in scope for reallocation. As we have recently seen in the DES-DMS reallocation, contracts performing at the one star level are extremely likely to exit.”
So at some point toward the end of this year, a reallocation will occur that will see those organisations listed above booted out or their share of the market place so ‘adjusted’ as to make them unviable – and if not these then a similar number of others.
It is difficult to put into words the total stupidity of these actions, the baseless framework from which these have been constructed, or the magnitude of the disaster they have and will continue to create.
There is nothing wrong with the program listed above. I can personally vouch for the quality of some and am sure of the ability of the rest.
What’s more important though is this simple fact; the people they serve both created them and chose them to support their vocational goals – these are Australian operated community programs.
Has the community said ‘go’?
Do people with disability wish them to go?
Are each effective in supporting the people (this next bit is important!) THAT HAVE CHOSEN TO GO TO THESE?
But that’s not enough. It is not enough that people who have a disability don’t want them to go, chose to attend them and are happy with the provision of service they receive – there’s a ‘quality improvement process’ that can steamroll the wishes of the most disadvantaged to serve the convenience of policy makers.
There’s only 1 way to measure quality and that’s not being applied today – it’s through the marketplace. Reward reduction in welfare, independence in employment, wages earned, longevity of employment and post subsidy job retention.
Use these as markers of ‘Stardom’ and lets see where those program listed above sit – lets see who thrives then
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