Budget 2017: Disappointing News for Disability Employment

As the clock continues ticking ever closer to March 2018, the end of the current Disability Employment Services Deed, the DES sector has patiently waited for 2017 Budget night. This was touted as the first time a clearer picture would unravel as to the policy intentions of the government for job seekers receiving DES supports. 

Instead, it was an underwhelming announcement with little to no clarification given. There were general crackdowns on all job seekers that would impact some job seekers with a disability. These include a new cookie-cutter payment called the JobSeeker Payment that will replace 7 current payments (including Newstart), drug testing for 5,000 new employment services applicants, and a tightening of compliance obligations with a new three strike rule. 

The $800 million per annum investment in DES continues, along with an additional $24 million over four years to implement a new framework from 1 July 2018. This is the first official indication that the current Deed will be extended by three months until the end of June 2018, the maximum possible under the National Competition Policy. 

Other changes to DES included the confirmation of the known intent to introduce porous boundaries to supply areas, giving some DES participants greater choice of provider, and the re-weighting of the support versus outcome ratio in favour of outcomes. 

A trial supporting school leavers with less significant disability into work will be introduced, which is a welcome step in the right direction after much lobbying by the sector. 

A surprising financial announcement is the indexing of fees paid to providers after a decade of stagnant payments has weakened the sector and the support able to be provided to job seekers. 

Post-Budget night, the DES sector will need continued patience until the Department of Social Services releases details of a DES model for mid-2018 and beyond. Get your strategy hats on and continue bid preparations to stay on top of the task ahead. 

Under the NDIS portfolio, there is a continued push to broaden the reach of School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) and improve the uptake of employment supports in the plans of NDIS participants. 

The DES sector,  burdened by a rigid performance management system and a fiercely competitive marketplace,  were hoping for answers to assist with strategic and financial planning.  It seems the future is still an uncertainty.  

Workshop: Employment Supports in the NDIS

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John will be co-presenting our upcoming Employment Supports in the NDIS workshops in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide & Brisbane. This jam packed workshop will provide a comprehensive overview of the emerging disability employment funding landscape, mapping where NDIS meets DES and exploring the emerging opportunities for truly innovative service design.