The Albanese Government spent its 100th day in office this week and although this seems like a long time, it will take the Government more time to implement the sweeping changes promised for people with disability.
The Prime Minister’s National Press Club address marking the 100 days in office focused on the recovery of Australia’s economy and the importance of building workforces back up in education, aged care and health.
Jobs and Skills Summit to look at work solutions
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke to the Press Club about the upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit, about addressing barriers to people with disability entering the workforce and about fixing workforce shortages across all industries.
“This week’s gathering will be the culmination of more than 100 pre-Summit consultations that Ministers and Government members have conducted all over the country, drawing on input from thousands of Australians, looking at everything from improving economic participation of people with disability to addressing our migration challenges,” he says.
“We want every Australian to have the opportunity and skills to find a secure job, with fair pay, in a safe workplace.”
A National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Jobs and Skills Forum, held earlier this month, heard from people with disability specifically.
The talks from this forum will be used alongside discussions and ideas gathered at the Prime Minister’s broader Jobs and Skills Summit this week to put together an Employment White Paper and suggest widespread reforms to move Australia forward.
“In order for the NDIS to thrive, innovation needs to follow the voices of people with disability,” says Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten.
“Whether that be innovation on how worker conditions can change, to make sure the best and brightest are looking after people with disability or perhaps it is innovation for employers on how can make their workplaces better by hiring people with disability.
“COVID exposed the fault lines in disability workforce planning. We need to listen to people with disability and workers to ensure NDIS is an attractive career, so people with disability receive high quality support when they need it.”
This aspect of the Government’s initiatives has been welcomed by peak advocacy organisation People With Disabilities Australia (PWDA).
Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PWDA, Carolyn Hodge, says, “We are encouraged by the level of engagement we have had to date with the new Government and their openness to co-design with people with disability – for instance in the lead-up to the Jobs and Skills Summit.”
Changes to the NDIS
Since the Government came into power, there has also been a focus on unmasking fraudsters taking money from the NDIS.
Cracking down on those manipulating the NDIS for their own financial gain was a feature of the promises made by Minister Shorten in the lead-up to the Federal Election.
You can read a recap of the promises made by Labor and other parties prior to the May election here.
In response to rising costs and a Fair Work Commission minimum award wage increase, the Government also increased NDIS price limits by nine percent and automatically increased participants’ plans to fund the price rise.
Over the last few months, the Chair of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Board and the CEO of the Agency have both resigned, and the disability community has been calling for both to be replaced by people with disability.
Other Government announcements for people with disability
Minister Shorten has also announced a Royal Commission into the Robodebt scheme, which negatively impacted people receiving various Government payments, including the Disability Support Pension.
It is estimated that 400,000 people were affected by the former Liberal Government’s scheme, which Minister Shorten says was “illegal”.
Meanwhile, a formal review of Disability Employment Service (DES) providers – which began in March – was finalised last week with the Government announcing many providers would lose funding because they were not supporting clients to find work.
The Federal Government also gave a grant to WA disability services provider Activ Foundation to help employees working in a number of workshops set to be closed to move into other employment.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues though, there is still concern that the Government is not doing enough to protect people with disability, with pandemic rules only becoming more relaxed despite thousands of people catching the virus in Australia each day.
What other announcements has the Government made that you think will benefit you? And are there any areas that you think the Government has missed? Tell us in the comments below.