This week in Canberra I was pleased to participate in the NDIS Jobs and Skills Forum hosted by Bill Shorten, Minister for the NDIS. I joined with NDS President Rohan Braddy and selected NDS members to put forward the views of service providers in this crucial meeting about employment and disability, together with NDIS participants, their families, the wider disability sector, and unions.Ideas from the NDIS Jobs and Skills Forum will feed into the Prime Ministerâs September National Jobs and Skills Summit to inform the Employment White Paper.
On the evening prior to the forum, I attended a dinner recognising the achievements of the âDefend Our NDISâ campaign led by NDS and Every Australian Counts. Many thanks to the Alliance 20 members who sponsored the dinner. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joined us briefly before the dinner and re-affirmed his governmentâs commitment to fix the NDIS as promised during the election campaign.At the forum the next day we heard from people with disability on their experiences at work and finding work, the challenges and prejudices they face and the lack of opportunities that are available to them. We heard of the need for mainstream employers to stand up and play their part, and for disability service providers to contribute by employing more people with disability.The discussion on workforce supply looked at the need to increase the number of workers, including by adjusting immigration settings and creating more incentives for people to work in disability support, as well as initiatives for retention of our current workforce.In the session on building a quality workforce, we looked at baseline training requirements, and NDS raised the key role of employers in setting the training that is needed by their workforce.In the discussion on models of employment, conversations were around the need for a transition plan for supported employment, wage setting arrangements, and enabling a range of inclusive employment settings.NDS has made clear that disability employment and workforce issues must be a priority at the National Jobs and Skills Summit, and the need for a carefully considered workforce plan that is developed together with people with disability and service providers.There was a strong consensus across the forum that the NDIS does need to be fixed; and that government and the sector need to collaborate on innovative approaches to disability and employment, so that people with disability receive the high quality support they need.