Australian Disability Enterprises have a ten year plan — Inclusive Employment 2012-2022 — A vision for supported employment. The introduction states:
“While many people with disability, their families and carers, express satisfaction with the current supported employment system, this does not mean change is not desirable. While investment in supported employment has increased over time, wage outcomes have risen slowly, and hours of work for supported employees have actually decreased. In addition, people with disability are not always getting the right support at the right time. Some older workers, for example, are ‘stuck’ because of a lack of alternate supports outside their existing enterprise employment. Some people with disability have expressed boredom with their job, a desire to try something new, and to move into the open employment market.”
Inclusion Australia supports the key objectives of the plan to:
- deliver employment supports not fixed to an ADE but provide pathways to employment in environments and industries across the labour market,
- deliver improved employment outcomes including increased wage outcomes and hours of work,
- remove barriers and deliver increased employment participation,
- improve the quality of employment support.
Inclusion Australia also welcomes the funding announced in the 2015 Federal Budget to enable employees with disability to have access to open employment support while maintaining their job in an ADE.
While these reforms of supported employment are positive, it must be noted that the most effective pathway to open employment for people with intellectual disability — based on research and demonstration, including lengthy Australian demonstrations — is via transition-to-work and open employment support that offers training and support in a regular work place setting. This is achieved without having to group people with intellectual disability in a separate centre or workplace.
International and Australian evidence indicates that supported employment (segregated setting) is a less effective pathway to jobs in the open labour market. This is largely due to the fact that people with intellectual disability find it difficult to generalise training from one environment to another, but also due to the current lack of provider skill to successful place and train people with intellectual disability in the open labour market.
As stated in the “Vision for Supported Employment” - specialist supports should deliver mainstream inclusion wherever possible. On this basis, Inclusion Australia is promoting the development of a national pathway of transition-to-work and open employment support that has demonstrated what is possible.