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News update
18/11/2019
News update

NDS in WA Sector Support Service Extended

WA Sector Support Service has been extended until 30 September 2020.

NDS lodges response to DSS submission on SES Award review

A bunch of papers in folders stacked on top of each other.

7/11/2019

NDS has lodged its submission in reply to the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) latest submission on the SES Award review. Our submission addresses a range of important matters arising from the consequences of DSS’s recent approaches to the Full Bench, including possible impacts on future wage setting in supported employment. Our submission notes that DSS makes important and positive observations about the nature of supported employment and its place in the disability employment landscape. DSS notes that future wage arrangements in the SES Award should reflect the difference between open and supported employment; and provide certainty for supported employees and Disability Enterprises, while ensuring the ongoing financial viability of the latter. However, NDS has contested a number of assertions in the DSS submission on the impact of the new NDIS pricing structure for supported employment. The release of the new pricing structure was cited by DSS as a reason for the Full Bench to further delay its long awaited decision on minimum wage structures and classifications in the SES Award. DSS asserts that the proposed hourly funding rates for supported employment are “generally higher” than previous rates. It argues that the new rates would allow additional on the job support to be provided that would increase supported employee productivity, resulting in increased Disability Enterprise income. DSS then asserts this increased income would allow the payment of higher supported employee wages. Finally, DSS states that the preceding assumptions would allow payment of supported employee wages through the use of the Modified Supported Wage System (MSWS) and that it should then be considered for adoption as the sole wage assessment tool in the SES Award. NDS has disputed all of these assertions. There has been no previous direct link between government funding for on the job support for employees with disability and the payment of their wages and nor should there be in future. Indeed, NDIS participant funding is specifically provided for supported employees to receive the on the job support they require to maintain their employment. The proposed pricing framework has been met with an extremely mixed reception by NDS members and there is little evidence that many will receive support funding that is “generally higher” than their current funding. We have noted that some important further detail on the proposed pricing has yet to be released, which will allow more accurate modelling of its impact. NDS has restated our view that the MSWS is not suitable as the sole mandated wage assessment tool for use in supported employment. Use of the MSWS, even with a time limited government subsidy, is unlikely to prevent future job losses and closures of Disability Enterprises. The Full Bench’s April 2018 provisional statement stated that the MSWS should be phased out of use along with all wage tools identified in the SES Award. Finally, we have requested that the Full Bench release its decision on future wage setting arrangements in accordance with the principles identified in the April 2018 statement. The NDS submission also revisits important changes to the definitions of “Supported employment service” and “Employee with a disability” that reflect the implementation of the NDIS and other relevant legislative and social policy changes. Various other Award review parties have also lodged submissions in response to the DSS submission, including numerous NDS members, Employer representatives, a parent/employee advocacy body and AED Legal. DSS now has until 13 November to file a submission in response. NDS will continue to keep members informed of developments in the SES Award review. We will also provide members with an analysis of the additional details of the proposed NDIS pricing (including an update of our modelling tool), which is due for release shortly.

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