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Department of Community Services and Health

Labour and Disability Workforce Consultancy



with assistance from the Labour Research Centre

Australian Government Publishing Service



Minister for Community Services and Health

I am pleased to release this important discussion paper on national employment initiatives for people with disabilities.

The discussion paper was commissioned by my predecessor, Dr Blewett, as part of the Federal Government's disability reform agenda. Prepared by Ms Chris Ronalds, with assistance from the Labour Research Centre, the paper addresses the following

  • the determination of appropriate wages for workers with more severe disabilities;
  • unionisation of workers
    with disabilities;
  • equal employment opportunity and affirmative action;
  • the adequacy of legal protection for employment and working

The issues canvassed in the
discussion paper will interest governments, unions, employers, community organisations, people with disabilities and their families.
I therefore invite interested organisations and
individuals to send me written submissions on the paper by 30 November 1990. Submissions should be forwarded to the Minister for Community Services
and Health, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600.

I have asked Ms Ronalds and the Disability Advisory Council of Australia
(DACA), in conjunction with the various State and Territory Disability Services
Advisory Committees, to undertake widespread community consultation on the
paper, particularly with people with disabilities. I will also be asking the
Steering Committee which assisted Ms Ronalds in
preparing the report to provide feedback on the report from their constituent

I am confident that the discussion paper will contribute to the
further development of the Government's social justice agenda for people with

Brian Howe MP
Minister for
Community Services and Health
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for
Social Justice
August 1990



  • Background
  • Disability Services
  • Barriers to employment 


  • Current situation
  • Developing a skills based wage
  • Wage policy
  • Potential target
  • Costs and benefits 
  • Net program costs 


  • Anti-discrimination legislation
  • EEO Policies and legislation
  • Future strategies for EEO


  • Future
    directions for unionisation


  • Definition of employee
  • Other statutory obligations


  • Co-ordinated approach 
  • Consultation processes 
  • Resources 
  • Responsibilities 
  • Conclusion



The Commonwealth Government
provides a significant amount of support to many people with disabilities, both
through income support and employment support.

The barriers to participation
in the general labour market by people with
disabilities have been recognised in three Commonwealth Government reviews. The
recommendations from those reports form the basic foundation for this discussion

In September 1983, the then
Minister for Social Security, Senator Don Grimes, initiated the Handicapped
Programs Review, to examine all Commonwealth Government programs delivering
special services for people with disabilities. A particular focus was on the
programs delivered by the Department of Social Security. In late 1984, a
substantial proportion of these programs were transferred to the newly- created
Department of Community Services.

The Report of the Handicapped
Programs Review, New directions, was released in May 1985 and contained
recommendations covering 52 areas. A major recommendation was the enactment of
new legislation, and this was implemented with the passage of the Disability
Services Act 1986.

The Commonwealth Government
has proceeded with a number of other initiatives in relation to policies and
programs involving people with disabilities. These include the Social Security
Reviews Issues Paper No.5, Towards enabling
policies: income support for people with disabilities
and the work of the
Disability Taskforce.

In November 1989, Dr Neal
Blewett, the then Minister for Community Services and
Health commissioned a consultancy to address four major issues in relation to
the employment of people with disabilities. These issues were:

  • payment of
    productivity-based wages;
  • unionisation of
    workers with disabilities;
  • EEO and affirmative action legislation; and
  • adequacy of legal protection for employment and working conditions.

A discussion paper was
released as the final product of the consultancy. This is a summary of that
discussion paper. Copies of the discussion paper and this summary can be
obtained from the Commonwealth Department of Community Services and Health in
each capital city.

Disability Services Act

The Disability Services Act
1986 (DSA)
is based on six objects which form the basis for the construction
and the administration of the Act. Two relevant objects which underpin this
paper are:

(c)to ensure that services provided to persons with

(ii) enable persons with disabilities to achieve positive
outcomes, such as increased independence, employment opportunities and
integration in the community;

(f) to achieve positive outcomes, such as
increased independence, employment opportunities and integration in the
community for people with disabilities who are of working age by the provision
of comprehensive rehabilitation services.

These objects are developed
further in the principles and objectives of the Act, which were released in June
1987. The Act provides the basis for funding services to people with
disabilities which further the objects and the principles or objectives. There
are nine types of services which have been approved as meeting the needs of
people with disabilities, and these include supported employment and competitive
employment training and placement.

There are 269 sheltered
workshops funded currently under DSA, and there are approximately 11,000 people
with disabilities employed in these workshops.

There are 253 activity therapy
centres (ATCs) funded currently under
the DSA and approximately 11,000 people with disabilities work in or attend

Sheltered workshops and AICs are engaged in a transition process to meet the
requirements of the DSA by improving range and quality of services available to
people with disabilities.

Supported employment services
provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities who would not able
to perform paid work in the general labour market
without ongoing support. Some typical models include enclaves, specialised businesses, mobile work crews and individual
supported jobs.

Competitive employment
training and placement services (CETPs) have been
established to assist people with disabilities to obtain and maintain award wage
jobs in the general lot market.

Barriers to employment

There are a number of barriers
which prevent or inhibit people with disabilities from entering the general
labour market. These include:

  • employer behaviour;
  • family concerns;
  • access to premises;
  • transport;
  • type of job;
  • job design;
  • training and ongoing
    support; and
  • income support.


Central to the issue of
achieving increased integrated employment opportunities for some people with
more sev disabilities is the need to address the issue of the determining of
appropriate wage payments.

To ensure that the benefits of
integration into the general labour market are realised, a fair and equitable system of measuring skills
and productivity and paying a reasonable wage needs to be developed. This
development will assist people with more severe disabilities who are unable to
work at competitive norms. No system currently exists which enables the
effective measurement of productivity and the payment of a productivity based
wage. As such a system is central to ensuring opportunities for workforce
participation by people with more severe disabilities, existing systems need to
be analysed and directions for future policy
developments proposed.

A number of major, and
inter-connected, issues need to be addressed. There is little to be gained from
a wages policy which limits the access of workers with more severe disabilities
to integrated employment opportunities. This limitation occur if wages are set
at a level which makes it difficult for organisations
to employ people with more severe disabilities as the financial cost to the
organisation in wages does not correlate with the financial returns generated by
the work processes undertaken by the person with disabilities. Also, wages
policy must ensure that the level of possible wage dc not act as a disincentive
to entrance into integrated employment, through the impact of the income support

There is a clear need to
develop a new system to ensure all workers with disabilities are paid an
equitable wage which recognises their work and their
contribution to society. The development of such a system must be informed by an
examination of the systems which currently operate both for general wage
fixation and for skills based wages.

Previous work in the area of
wages for people with disabilities has used the term "productivity based wages".
An example of the pertinent issues in the discussion paper led to the conclusion
that the term is no longer appropriate, as it is too narrow to encompass all
types of variations envisaged. Consequently, the term "skills based wages" is
used to describe the possible future direction for wages policy for people with
severe disabilities. This is in line with the terminology being used in the
industrial relations arena during the award restructuring processes.
'Productivity based wages' is used in an historical context.

Target group

Obviously, the target group for any new wage policy is not all people
with disabilities in the general labour market. There
are already many people working on or above full award wages and they will not
be affected by such a policy.

The target group to potentially benefit from such a policy are only
those workers who, because of the nature or extent of their disability, are
unable to operate competitively in the labour market
as their level of skills is not the same as their coworkers. Their level of
skills may be limited or restricted by a variety of factors, including the
effects of their disability, job design, job duties, access and training. The
level of skills may increase over a variety of times, depending on the same
range of factors. There will be some people with more severe disabilities who need a skills based wage for a limited period only, while
they are trained to perform the full range of job duties. Others may need such a
wage for the entire time they work in that job, as the limiting or restricting
factors may result in their level of skills not being able to be increased to
the level of their co-workers.

Current situation

The concept of productivity
based wages currently has limited application in Australian industry. Although
the recent national wage case decisions of the Australian Industrial Relations
Commission have been broadly concerned with level of productivity, these have
been negotiated at the industry or enterprise level and subject to ceilings
imposed by the commission. In a few industries, there is an element of
individual productivity based wages. These industries, such as the textile,
clothing and footwear industry, operate predominately on a piecework basis, but
the piece rates do not determine the minimum wage of workers in these

There are a number of general
factors which will affect the likely employment opportunities for some people
with disabilities under any new wage system. These include:

  • areas of job growth;
  • gender segmentation and
  • part-time work;
  • flexible working arrangements;
  • award restructuring;
  • work redesign; and
  • technology.

People with disabilities who
currently are employed are p under one of four wage systems. The first system,
which applies to the majority of workers with disabilities, is full award wages.
The second, which applies to an extremely small number,
is working with a slow worker permit for some proportion of an award wage. The
third, which applies to most holders of slow workers permits, is a proportion of
award wage supplemented by government income support, usually the invalid
pension. The fourth is receipt of an income support supplemented with a wage
payment. This last option applies to workers in sheltered workshops and some
workers in supported employment programs.

With the exception of those
who receive full award wages there are serious problems with each of these
options. For the majority of people working with slow worker permits, wage
levels are considerably lower than award rates. None of the permit holders
examined exceeded the wage level at which eligibility for a pension ceases, but
it is conceivable that some of the 3 per cent who earned more than 80 per cent
of the appropriate wage rate may have voluntarily removed themselves from the
pension as the pension payments would be extremely low. Removing pension
eligibility for the other 97 per cent is clearly not an option. The wage income
of most worker permit holders is insufficient to cover living costs.

For this group of permit
holders, receipt of income support may make them vulnerable to unscrupulous
employers who are prepared to pay minimal wages regardless of the worker's level
of skills. The absence of effective monitoring arrangements in the permit system
contributes to this vulnerability.

The major issue is that of
ensuring that people with disabilities have access to integrated employment
opportunities in the general labour market. There are
greater difficulties presented to all involved parties where the person has
severe disabilities. Insistence on full award wages for all workers will mean
that many will not have this access, as employers will not be able to provide
jobs for workers who are not as skilled as their co workers.

There may be a need for a
system of wage supplementation or income support available in such
circumstances, so the person with disabilities with lower levels has access to
an equitable disposable income.

As none of the systems which
currently operate is wholly satisfactory, the way is open to design an improved
and effective system.

Developing a
skills based wage system

There is an obvious need for
standard methods of assessment, implementation, monitoring and evaluation,
review and renewal processes and settlement of disputes to operate throughout Australia

. The current systems run by
state governments are not able to meet the needs of workers with disabilities
who are able to work productively but at a reduced skills level. A new system
needs to be developed to facilitate access for such workers into the general
labour market.

Therefore, it is recommended

R4.1 The Commonwealth
Government establish a national and comprehensive system of skills based wage
assessment processes which enable the same principles and structures to apply to
all relevant parties around Australia,

R4.2 AND that the Government
negotiate with state governments to enable the current systems to be repealed so
that the new system can operate in a clear manner and there be access to only
one avenue of assessment.

A new system of job evaluation and skills
assessment needs to be developed, which is value-free and which represents an
accurate method of assessing the workers capacity in relation to other workers
performing the same tasks.

In order to facilitate the development of such a
scheme, it is recommended that:

R4.3 A working party be convened to undertake development of a system of
measurement of skills for workers with disabilities in the target group. It
should comprise representatives of relevant government departments, including
the Departments of Community Services and Health, Social Security, Employment,
Education and Training and Industrial Relations, as well as representatives of
disability consumer groups, supported employment services, sheltered employment
providers and of the union movement and private sector employers. As the
Victorian Department of Labour conducts assessments as
part of its slow worker permit system and currently is reviewing the system, a
representative from that department should be invited to participate also.

One of the initial objectives
of this working party would be to determine the most appropriate approach for
determining the method of establishing the guidelines for skills based wage
assessment processes.

One approach could be to
establish a sub-committee of experts in the area of job evaluation and work
design. They could cooperatively work out benchmarks for skills assessment,
critically analyse the operation of current systems to
ensure they do not disadvantage or discriminate against people with disabilities
and develop appropriate mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing the level of
skill increases.

There are several different
legislative or administrative options which could be used to establish a
national assessment system. These are:

  • Commonwealth legislation;
  • a
    standard clause in all federal and state awards; and
  • standard guidelines
    on assessment developed by the Commonwealth Government and legislative
    amendments negotiated with individual states.

While the second option is a
feasible and workable system it requires a longer implementation period.
Therefore, it appears that the first option would provide the most effective and
workable scheme for the benefit of workers with disabilities who need such a
scheme, employers, unions and government as well as the community in general.

Therefore, it is recommended

R4.4 Any new assessment system
include the following components: the assessment of the level of skills of the
individual worker, the processes and the parties to be involved and the methods
of review and reassessment to be utilised and possibly
the creation of a permit and the methods of issuing individual permits.

AND the Commonwealth Government establish or adapt an agency to issue, monitor
and review the new assessment and possible permit system and establish methods
of assessment of the level of skills of the worker with disabilities.

If a
national assessment scheme is implemented, there will need to be a responsible
agency to administer the scheme. Therefore, it is recommended that:

The assessment procedures should be placed in the
industrial relations arena and be part of the duties of the registrar of the
Industrial Relations Commission.

To ensure the proposed
national assessment scheme is administered effectively and efficiently, there
will need to be sufficient staffing resources.

Therefore, it is recommended

R4.7 The agency responsible
for administering the new assessment system be provided with sufficient
additional resources to create positions for skills assessment liaison officers
to act as independent assessors of level of skills, and resources be made
available for them or another appropriate agency to conduct publicity and
educative programs to promote the employment of workers with disabilities and
the concept and availability of skills based wages and provide relevant training
for other staff.

Any skills based wage system introduced to enable the employment of non-competitive workers with
disabilities in competitive work settings will require special provisions to
ensure it cannot become part of the wage determinations process of competitive
workers, whether disabled or not.

These provisions may include criteria of
recent eligibility or qualification for invalid pension, sheltered employment
allowance or incentive allowance.

It seems most appropriate that
the applicant for assessment is the worker. The assessment form would contain
the name of the worker and the employer, the job to be performed and the
proportion of the award wage to be paid. It would apply to that job and that
employer only.

A review and renewal system
would need to be built into the assessment procedures. It appears that an
initial review every three months within the first six months of the operation
of the assessment would be essential. Review periods and renewal periods after
that could be made at different times depending on considerations relating to
individual workers, but an annual review would be essential. Also, there would
need to be an opportunity for a review to be requested by one of the parties,
when it is perceived that the skill level has increased.

In the unlikely event that
there is any dispute on the assessment result, the usual processes established
under the industrial relations system could be activate.

Wage policy proposals

There are three essential
elements to an effective skills based wage system:

  • access to jobs;
  • equity for individual workers;
  • acceptance by employers, unions and the
    general community.

There are five policy options
for developing an appropriate skills based wage.

Option A: Skills based wage

This option entails
payment of a skills based wage only. It has the advantage of delivering a wage
outcome commensurate with the skill level of the worker and could provide an
incentive for the worker to increase skill levels. It has the disadvantage of
potentially delivering wages below the level for a reasonable standard of

Option B: Skills based wage
plus income support payment

This option recognises that a skills based wage may be below the tapered
cut-off point which should enable continued receipt of some income security
payment. As many people with disabilities work part-time, this option would
ensure there is an income safety net through access to income support for such
workers. This should apply also to people with disabilities who work full-time
but are assessed as having a low level of skill and so receive low wages.

An advantage for employers is
that they would be involved with the payment of the wages part of the policy
only, and so the workers with disabilities would not require special
administrative measures and the employer would not be required to submit any
information to a government bureaucracy.

This option would provide
incentives to individual workers, because as they increased their skill level
and hence their wages they would be provided with an opportunity to cease to
receive income support. Also, it increases the workers range of choices and
hence flexibility.

Option C: Skills based wage
plus employment subsidy

In this option, the total
income received is equivalent to the appropriate award wage rate. The skills
based wage component is paid according to the revised scheme. The employment
subsidy component is assessed as the difference between the skills based wage
and the appropriate award wage rate. The employer would pay the worker full
award wage, and receive an employment subsidy paid by the govern merit.

One advantage of this option
for workers on a skills based wage is that it ensures that they receive the same
level of income as their co-workers.

There are some disadvantages. Employers
may also be loathe to participate in a system which
required them to do more paperwork and be subjected to closer bureaucratic
scrutiny. Employees who were in receipt of an award wage equivalent might not be
encouraged to increase their skills, as there would be no incentive to do so in
the form of increased income. However, for workers who are not able to increase
their skill level after appropriate training, this may not present any
disincentive to increase skill level but provide a
recognition of that situation.

Option D: Skills based wage
plus income support payment plus employment subsidy

This option would also
provide a total income equivalent to the appropriate award wage with the
advantages canvassed under Option C. It has the same disadvantages as Option C,
except the automatic exclusion to DSS payments would not be included. This would
provide significant advantages to part- time workers, who could be disadvantaged
under Option C.

Option E: Skills based wage
plus employment subsidy with total wage outcome equivalent to a minimum wage

A modified Option C
could be considered. In this option, a skills based wage component would be paid
as an employment subsidy, but instead of the total wage being equivalent to the
award rate it would be equivalent to some minimum wage rate.

This option erases most of the
advantages of Option C and further entrenches discrimination against people with
disabilities. It has, however, the additional advantage of being possible to
implement in a period of expenditure restraint. Also, it would benefit most
workers who currently hold slow worker permits by delivering a proper skills
assessment and better wage levels. Payment of a minimum wage would also provide
an incentive for the worker to increase skills and have the capacity to leave
the program.

Potential target group

A skills based wage system
will not apply to all workers with disabilities. Its potential is for a small
sub-group only.

To determine the potential target group for the new policy
proposals, it is necessary to set the parameters of the analysis. The major
determinants include the level of disability and age. Other relevant factors
include the state of the labour market, the timing of
the implementation, gender differentials, access to premises, transport and aids
and appliances.

There are no reliable data on
the probable skill level of people with disabilities or the anticipated skill
level after training or with support. Consequently, it is not possible to make
any firm predictions on the range of skill levels for people who are able to
obtain employment on a skills based wage.

Through its funding
mechanisms, the Department of Community Services and Health could develop
information systems to enable it to analyse program
data and use that data for further research.

Therefore, it is recommended

R4.8 The Department of
Community Services and Health develop information systems, particularly in
relation to people with disabilities utilising the new
employment service types, on the demography of the group, covering such areas as
age, level and type of disability, gender, skill level, previous employment
history, previous pension or benefit history, occupation, industry and wage

There is no accurate
measurement of the probable size of the potential target group for a skills
based wage.

Using the 1988 ABS Survey on
Ageing and Disability it is assumed that no more than 50 per cent of severely
and moderately handicapped people eligible or qualified to receive invalid
pension or sheltered employment allowance would come within the target group.
Also, age would also be a significant factor affecting opportunities to enter
the general labour market. For the older age groups,
it is likely that less than 50 per cent would come within the target group.
Hence, it is assumed that the maximum potential client group would be 50 per
cent of those aged 15-29 with severe and moderate handicaps, 40 per cent of
those aged 30-44 and 30 per cent of those aged 45-59.

This produces a total of
119,800 who would have any chance of entering the labour force on a skills based wage, if such an opportunity
was available to them.

However, such a scheme would
be voluntary. For a wide range of factors, many people would choose not to
participate. Hence, it is further assumed that at any point the likely take- up
would be no more than 50 per cent. That would mean that there was a maximum
potential target group of approximately 60,000.

Costs and benefits

There are a range of
costs and benefits to individuals on a skills based wage, depending on which
option is adopted and on their personal circumstances.

The data in the discussion
paper indicate that almost all single people are financially advantaged under a
skills based wage and an employment subsidy (Option C). A small proportion on
the highest level of skill (80 per cent) and an award wage of less than $290
would be marginally disadvantaged under the subsidy option.

Married people with a low
level of productivity and a high award wage would be financially advantaged
under the subsidy option. In all other cases, they would be financially
advantaged under a skills based wage and a part pension (Option D) because of
the higher rate of pension.

In all cases, a married person
with two dependent children would be financially advantaged under the pension
option (Option B) rather than the subsidy option (Option C), again because of
the higher rate of pension.

There could be significant
costs and benefits to the Commonwealth Government. The costs relate to a
comparison between current levels of expenditure through the income support
system and those further incurred by an employment subsidy scheme. The costs to
the government vary depending on the status of the person,
that is whether they are single, married or married with dependent

Net program costs

The costings in the discussion
paper include the variables for the three main options. Option B includes the
savings on pension through the impact of the tapered income test, the net effect
on taxation receipts and outlays associated with displaced people moving onto
unemployment benefit.

Option C includes the outlays
in employment subsidy, the total savings on pension, the net effect on taxation
receipts and outlays associated with displaced people moving onto unemployment

Option D includes the outlays
in employment subsidy, savings in pension through the impact of the tapered
income test, the net effect on taxation receipts and outlays associated with
displaced people moving onto unemployment benefit.

Option B would entail
increased Commonwealth Government expenditure in the lower ranges of award
wages. This is primarily because the reduction in pension
outlays are less than the loss of taxation revenue and outlays on
unemployment benefit. As the level of award wage increases, savings on pension
increase at a greater rate than the loss of taxation revenue. Unemployment
benefit remains constant. Above an award wage of around $3 10-360, the Option
results in an increasing level of savings to the Government except where the 80
per cent skill level is excluded. In that situation there is Government
expenditure involved at all award wages, although the expenditure decreases as
the award wage increases.

Option C would result in
savings to the Government in the lower range of award wages, in some cases
significant savings. This is because the savings on pension and increased
taxation revenue far outweigh outlays on subsidy and unemployment benefit. As
the level of award wage increases, outlays on subsidy increase at a greater rate
than taxation revenue. As award wages rise, the Option eventually results in
Government expenditure. When the lowest skill level of 20 per cent is excluded,
then savings occur up to an award wage of $390. When the highest skill level of
80 per cent is excluded, then expenditure rises once the award wage is over

Option D would result in
Government expenditure for all levels of award wage. Outlays on unemployment
benefit and subsidy exceed the reduction in pension outlays and increases in
taxation revenue. As the award wage increases above $250, the savings associated
with pensions and increased taxation revenue rise at a greater rate than the
outlay on subsidy until an award wage of around $320 (unemployment benefit
remains constant). At this point, the pension cuts out for those in full-time
employment, slowing the rate of increase in savings associated with the pension.
This point is when the Option involves the least Government expenditure. Beyond
$320, the cost of the option increases. When the lowest skill level is excluded,
then the costs are between $1,300-$1,800. If the highest skill level is
excluded, then the costs increase significantly and are between $2,800-$3,800.

The other initial outlay for
the Commonwealth Government would be the costs of administration.


There are other issues, apart
from wages, which need to be examined when considering the opportunities for
people with disabilities to enter and remain in the general labour market. These issues include access to jobs,
promotion, training and the other terms, conditions and
benefits of employment.

One method of addressing any
disadvantage or discrimination which a person with disabilities may face in
employment is through anti-discrimination legislation and affirmative action and
equal employment opportunity (EEO) legislation and policies.

legislation deals with a situation after the event has occurred and provides
rights and remedies through redress. The legislation establishes a series of
acts of unlawful discrimination on specified grounds and covers a number of
areas, including employment. A person who considers that they have been
unlawfully discriminated against can make a complaint to an independent
statutory agency. That agency will investigate the complaint and endeavour to settle it. Settlement can include the payment
of compensation or damages, reinstatement or promotion or an order that the
other party cease any further acts of discrimination.

EEO and affirmative action
policies and legislation are a proactive approach to the elimination of
discrimination and the development of a workforce based on the principles of
equality and equity of access and participation.

In the policy discussion
paper, Affirmative action for women (AGPS, 1984), the Commonwealth
Government defined affirmative action as:

A systematic means, determined
by the employer in consultation with senior management, employees and unions, of
achieving equal employment opportunity. Affirmative action is compatible with
appointment and promotion on the basis of merit, skills and qualifications. It
does not mean women will be given preference over better qualified men. It does
mean men may expect to face stiffer competition for jobs. This is not

This definition is used in the
discussion paper.

Affirmative action programs
are part of a broader EEO strategy. These programs and strategies are aimed at
eliminating all forms of discrimination against the identified target group and
in promoting the concepts and practices of EEO. This involves an examination of
the intentional and unintentional impact of employment policies and practices on
the target group and the implementation of a program to eliminate the impact and
to redress the disadvantages that have arisen. This ensures that the employment
policies and practices are fair and equal for all employees and applicants for


At a Commonwealth level and
in four states, there is legislation addressing the issue of unlawful
discrimination in employment against people with intellectual and physical
disabilities. This legislation was passed in recognition of the particular
issues confronting people with disabilities in relation to the labour market and the effects of the behaviour and attitudes of employers and co-employees about
the capacity of individuals to undertake employment or certain types of

Regulations under the Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986
provide the Commission with
the power to investigate discrimination in employment on seven grounds, covering
disability, which includes physical, mental, intellectual and psychiatric
disability, impairment and medical reports. The regulations became operative on
1 January 1990.

The effect of the regulations
is that the Commission may investigate and attempt conciliation of any
complaint. If conciliation is unsuccessful, then the Commission may report to
the Attorney-General. A complaint may be made in writing by an individual
alleging an act or practice that constitutes discrimination. Also, the
Commission may be requested by the Attorney-General to exercise these powers.

There is anti-discrimination
legislation on the ground of physical impairment and intellectual impairment in
New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia

. There is similar
legislation in South

on the ground of physical impairment.

The Acts make it unlawful to
discriminate on the ground of impairment and define direct and indirect
discrimination. The employment provisions cover applicants for employment and
employees. They also cover commission agents, contract agents, partnerships and
membership of trade unions.

There are a series of exceptions which are based
on a concept of "reasonable adjustment" or "reasonable accommodation". This
means that it is not unlawful to discriminate where the changes or modifications
required by the person with a disability can not reasonably be made in the
circumstances, or where the person is not capable of doing the job because of
the nature of their disability.

A person who considers that
they have been unlawfully discriminated against on the ground of disability in
employment may lodge a complaint with the appropriate agency. The complaint will
be investigated and conciliated. If conciliation is not
successful, or for several other reasons, the complaint may be referred to a
quasi-judicial tribunal for a hearing. Usually, this hearing is conducted
in public and all parties are legally represented.

There have been a number of
major tribunal and court decisions which have interpreted the various state
anti- discrimination laws, and some of these have involved the impairment
provisions in the area of employment.

These cases demonstrate that
most focus has been on people with mild disabilities and on people who have
acquired their disabilities after birth, frequently in work related accidents.
Members of the target group of the discussion paper have not been involved in
litigation and have made limited use of the confidential complaint mechanism

EEO Policies and legislation

There is no specific EEO or
affirmative action legislation which covers people with disabilities in private
sector employment.

In relation to the Australian
Public Service, government departments are responsible for eliminating
unjustified discrimination against people with disabilities under the EEO
provisions of the Public Seivice Act 1922. They
must report annually to the Public Service Commission.

A department is required to
make "reasonable adjustment" to the job environment to minimise any adverse effect of a person's disability at
work. It is only justifiable not to do so where "undue hardship" can be
demonstrated. The EEO guidelines set out some general principles for making
adjustments whenever it is necessary, possible and reasonable.

There are two specific
programs run for people with disabilities. The Intellectual Disability Access
Program (IDAP), by regulation under the Public Service Act, allows
discrimination in the appointment process in favour of
a person who has an intellectual disability and who is recruited through IDAP.
This means that the person is considered on individual merit, rather than
through competition in the open, standard selection process.

The second program is run
under the Australian Traineeship Scheme, which has a requirement that 5 per cent of traineeships are reserved for members
of groups classified as disadvantaged on a CES assessment. The CES definition
includes people with disabilities.

The EEO (Commonwealth
Authorities) Act 1987
covers most Commonwealth statutory authorities and
includes the same definition of "designated group" and some of the general
provisions as the Public Service Act. Authorities are required to lodge an
annual report covering the development and implementation of their EEO program
with either the relevant Minister or with the Public Service Commission.

In New
South Wales and Western

, there is specific legislation requiring
government departments and statutory authorities to prepare and implement EEO
management plans and lodge them annually with the Director of equal opportunity
in public employment. In Victoria, there is a general provision
relating to government departments, with no monitoring or enforcement

Future strategies for EEO

The protection and promotion
of the rights of people with disabilities is an important principle which needs
widespread acceptance and recognition within the community. Employment provides
access to many other benefits of life, and can improve a person's quality of
life substantially.

One barrier is the discrimination by some employers and
coworkers against an applicant for a position or an employee with disabilities.
The protection of the rights of such workers or potential workers must be

A national and comprehensive
scheme would be the most appropriate approach, so that the rights and remedies
available to a person are not determined by place of residence. Such a scheme
would need to address the disadvantages and deficiencies of the current systems
and adopt an innovative approach to overcome these shortcomings. The provision
of an adequate legal framework is an essential step in securing the appropriate
rights and remedies for people with disabilities. It is not the only avenue for
change, but it provides an important catalyst in creating full and equal access
and participation in the labour market.

Therefore, it is

R6.1 That the Commonwealth
Government pass national, comprehensive legislation which provides that
people with disabilities have the right to employment without
discrimination and that an employer must establish that any discrimination was
reasonable in the circumstances.

R6.2 AND that extension to
other appropriate areas be considered.

R6.3 Such legislation address
the issues of definitions of disability and incorporate effective
complaint-making and complaint- handling mechanisms to ensure they meet the
special needs of people with disabilities, including provisions for group
actions and for others to institute complaint proceedings on behalf of an
individual or group of people with disabilities.

R6.4 In any development of
national, comprehensive legislation to provide rights in employment and other
areas for people with disabilities, consideration be given to providing direct
access to the Federal Court for a hearing when conciliation can not or should
not proceed and that a determination by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission not be established as an integral part of the process.

R6.5 In any development of
national, comprehensive legislation to provide rights to employment for people
with disabilities, a clause similar in terms to section 33 of the Sex
Discrimination Act be included to enable the
development and implementation of EEO and affirmative action strategies for
people with disabilities.

It is recognised that the
Commonwealth Parliament can only puss legislation which is authorised under the Constitution. There are a range of
powers which could be used. In relation to employment, the "corporations" power
provides the most comprehensive coverage as to enable laws to be made with
respect to "foreign corporations, and trading or
financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth". The
"banking" and "insurance" powers and the "trade and commerce" power could
provide a further series of planks. Also, the "external affairs" power could
provide some Constitutional basis.

The second major part of the
strategies for future developments is in the area of EEO and affirmative action
policies and programs.

The barriers which prevent or
inhibit people with disabilities from full and equal participation in the
workforce need to be addressed in a national comprehensive manner. While anti-
discrimination legislation provides some remedies for unlawful discriminatory
practices and actions, there is a demonstrated need for targetted, specific programs to create employment
opportunities for people with disabilities.

Therefore, it is recommended

R6.6 The Commonwealth
Government explore all potential strategies in relation to the development and
implementation of EEO and affirmative action programs in both private and public
sector employment, including local government, to provide opportunities for full
and equal integration into the general labour market
for people with disabilities.

In order to implement
this recommendation, a range of strategies need to be explored. These are
canvassed below.

Strategy 1: Amend Affirmative
Action Act

Some disability consumer
groups have recommended that the Affirmative Action (EEO for Women) Act be
amended to cover people with disabilities.

The Act is designed to address
the structural barriers confronting women in the labour market.

The major barriers for people with disabilities at present is access to
jobs and promotions. These barriers arise partly because of employer and
community perceptions about the capacities of people with disabilities to work
and stereotyped notions and behaviour which form the
basis of these perceptions.

Therefore, it appears that it
is not appropriate at this stage to amend the Affirmative Action Act because it
is designed to address different labour market issues,
although there is some marginal overlap.

Strategy 2: Contract

"Contract compliance" is the
term used to describe a program which is conducted in the USA. The basic
requirement is that companies which do business with the Government over a
certain value must have an affirmative action program for specified groups.
There is a similar program in Canada.

These programs are based on
the concept that the Government has the right to determine the terms and
conditions of any contract between itself and another party. The Government
further demonstrates its commitment to the overall principles of EEO or
employment equity by declining to do business with private sector companies or
sections of companies which do not comply also with these principles.

This area needs to be further
explored within the Australian context. A program could be introduced whereby
contractors for tenders over a certain value and with a certain number of
employers could be required to demonstrate that they were conducting an
affirmative action or EEO program of recruitment, selection, promotion,
training, etc. for people with disabilities. The organisation which currently
supervises the tender processes or a body specialising
in EEO principles could administer the program. The program could cover not only
government departments, but also statutory authorities.

One disadvantage of the
proposal is that the purchasing role of the government in its various guises is
limited in terms of the industries with which it contracts. The major part of the purchases are from different parts of the
manufacturing sector. There also is some involvement with the construction
industry, the transport and storage industry and the finance and banking

Strategy 3: Targetted government grants and subsidies

The Commonwealth Government
provides a range of funding to private sector companies, such as special
assistance programs, export development grants, research and development grants,
etc. These could be "tied" so that a company over a certain size, either by the
number of employees or some other determinant such as payroll tax, or one that
receives a certain size grant or subsidy has to participate in a special
recruitment program to provide a designated number or proportion of jobs for
people with disabilities. If the company did not agree, then they would be
ineligible for the grant.

A second method of tying
Commonwealth Government grants is placing conditions on grants received by the
state governments. Grants provided for particular purposes, such as road
construction, could be used to provide employment opportunities for people with

One disadvantage is that this
isolates particular industries and does not have the advantages of a program
which focusses on all industries.

Strategy 4: Tax subsidy or

Employers could volunteer to
participate in a targetted employment program, and
could be entitled to some form of subsidy or rebate to cover the costs.

However, this would run
counter to recent changes to the tax system to standardise rebates and subsidies. Also, it may be
unnecessary. The Australian Commissioner of Taxation has issued a taxation
ruling which covers expenses incurred by an employer when implementing an
affirmative action program.

Strategy 5: Expansion of

The existing Intellectual
Disability Access Program (IDAP) covers Commonwealth Government departments
only. This program could be expanded by expanding the target group of employers
to be covered.

One important component of
this program is that it addresses the fundamental issue of access to jobs.
However, the focus of the program at present is on people with intellectual
disabilities, and as such it appears to have too narrow
a base to be expanded in any comprehensive sense.

Strategy 6: Targetted access program

A broadly based targetted access program designed to address the needs of
people with intellectual, physical or multiple disabilities to enable them to
gain access to the general labour market could be
developed and implemented.

This program could be targetted in several different ways, particularly in
relation to employer groups, industry groups and participants. One focus could
be on the type of employers to be involved in the program. The program could
initially be implemented in Commonwealth Government departments, statutory
authorities and wholly-government owned corporations.

Another focus could be on
private sector employers. This could be determined on the basis of size or by
industry, or by an amalgamation of both factors.

However, an initial focus
determined by the size of the workforce could limit the impact in cities and
towns without any or many large employers. This could arise particularly in
smaller country towns, where employment opportunities generally and particularly
for people with disabilities is limited already.

An alternate focus could be on
key industries or key jobs. Some industries are engaged in a higher overall
growth rate in terms of new jobs than others. Therefore, an initial focus could
be on such industries as construction, transport and storage and finance,
property and business services.

Similarly, some occupations are undergoing
more vigorous employment growth than others. Therefore, an initial focus could
be on the occupations of salespersons and personal service workers and labourers and related workers.

The other major focus could be
on the participants in such a program. There is a strong argument that the
initial focus should be on younger people, as they have most to benefit in the
long-term through access to the labour market. This
would reduce their dependence on long-term income support and enable them to
participate more fully in an integrated community. One initial focus could be on
people aged 6-25, with a higher age range of up to aged 30 being
developed at a later stage. This would not mean that people outside the proposed
age range would be excluded, but that the primary focus would be on the
nominated range.

A further focus could be on
women participants, to ensure that there was no gender bias in the targetting, either in an assessment of an individual's
capacity to perform a job or in the particular job which women should be targetted towards. A target of a 50 per cent participation
rate by women could be established to ensure women with disabilities are
provided with the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

A targetted program enables employers to examine the structure
of their workforce and determine where there are suitable openings for people
with disabilities and then take positive steps to recruit or promote people to
those positions. The numerical or proportionate target would be set with the
assistance of external indicators which provide information on the available
pooi of potential employees and the type of employment
they were seeking or were capable of performing.

Strategy 7: Targetted DSA funded programs

The Department of Community
Services and Health funds a number of competitive employment training and
placement programs and supported employment programs under the
DSA. These are required to meet
the principles and objectives of that Act.

One area of development could
be to require these services to target particular industries or particular jobs,
which are identified in that geographical location as being in a growth phase.
The proportion of placements and training could be set to meet local
requirements. Currently, the department enters into a contract with each
individual service under section 10 of the Act. That contract could be adapted
to include clauses which require the service to focus on identified industries
or jobs. Such a requirement would be a condition of their ongoing funding, and
be linked to the targetted access program. This would
not mean that there activities were exclusively in the targetted areas, but a proportion of their activities would
be required to meet the targets.

A further focus of targets
could be to ensure that the participation rate of women was equal with that of
men. A target of 50 per cent participation rate by women could be included in
the terms and conditions of funding and would enable an emphasis on the
particular needs of women with disabilities.

Strategy 8: Expanded training
and work experience programs

There are a range of programs
funded by the Commonwealth and state governments which provide training, both on
and off the job, and work experience. These programs could be adapted so that a
proportion of places were reserved for people with disabilities.

Strategy 9: Pre-employmen t training programs

One issue for many people with
disabilities is their limited access to the general community. The Department of
Employment, Education and Training could conduct a special vocational
preparation program which focuses on young people with disabilities. The program
could be aimed at providing skills, including writing job applications and
interviewing skills.

Strategy 10: Employer
education campaign

There appears to be some
employer resistance to the employment of people with disabilities. In order to
address the issues which arise from misconceptions and stereotyped notions about
the potential for the opportunities for people with disabilities, there could be
a targetted information campaign.

Strategy 11: Campaign for job

A major issue for people with
disabilities is the lack of information and knowledge by employers about the
potential for job redesign. Some employers in Australia

undertaken such redesign activities and have opened opportunities for workers
with disabilities. It appears that there is a need for information on such
programs to become more widely available so that employers can benefit from the
activities of others.

An information campaign which
encouraged employers to examine employment opportunities in a creative manner
through the use of examples could provide an important lead. A network of
employers could be established to ensure that there were benefits available on a
broader scale when an individual employer made some adjustments.

Strategy 12: Work
attendant carer scheme

For some people with physical
disabilities, working is not a possibility because they need a level of personal
care throughout the day which is not available in the general labour market. One mechanism for providing some further
employment opportunities for that group of people with physical disabilities
could be the establishment of a work attendant carer

This would mean that a person
would be employed specifically to assist an individual or several individuals
with their personal care needs while they are at work. For example, this may
require visiting the person several times per day to assist with toiletting or providing daily transport to and from work. If
there were several people who require such services with one employer or within
a convenient distance, the attendant may be able to provide assistance to that

Strategy 13: Affirmative
action agency education campaign

One particular target group
for EEO and affirmative action programs is women with disabilities. Under the
Affirmative Action Act, the Director of Affirmative Action conducts various
different education campaigns. She could develop a program aimed at encouraging
women with disabilities, especially young women, to broaden their choice of
occupation when making decisions about potential jobs. Also, she could develop a
program aimed at private sector employers to highlight the issues relating to
the special needs of women with disabilities in the general labour market.

Strategy 14: Community
education campaign

There have been a number of
general campaigns aimed at educating the community about the abilities and
potential of people with disabilities. A new campaign could be specifically
employment related and aimed at ensuring that employees, families and others
understood their responsibilities in the elimination of discrimination on the
ground of disability. It could demonstrate the advantages of working in an
integrated environment for all parties involved and focus on the abilities of
certain categories of workers.

Strategy 15: Family support

It is clear that family
support is essential for addressing the personal issues confronting a person
with disabilities entering the general labour market,
whether they are leaving sheltered employment or not. One method of reducing
those potential problems is through a network of family support.

Key local parents could be
used as the basis for such a network. They could be used as positive role models
for other parents and supporters sand could be involved
through on active program of contact with other families.

Strategy 16: Transport review

There are many issues in
relation to transport for people with disabilities, and many variables such as
geographical location, type of disability and level and type of public
transport. The absence of accessible public transport can present the most
difficult barrier to a person with disabilities who wants to obtain and retain a

The Minister for Community
Services and Health could write to the Minister for Transport and request that
the issue of transport for people with disabilities be put on the agenda of the
Transport Ministers Conference and dealt with as a priority.

Strategy 17: Disability rights

People with disabilities have
rarely used the complaint mechanisms under anti-discrimination legislation, for
a variety of reasons.

An agency administering
existing state anti-discrimination legislation could apply for funding under the
DSA for a short term grant, for example for two years, to focus on the
disability provisions of the legislation. The objective of such a project would
be to ensure that the rights provided under the legislation and the manner in
which complaints are dealt with and the type of action or results which can be
achieved become better known amongst the target group.


For many people, workforce
participation includes union membership and the opportunity to participate in
union affairs. The vast majority of workers in supported or sheltered employment
are not union members.

The principles and objectives
of the Disability Services Act provide that people with disabilities have the
same rights as other members of Australian society. These rights include the
opportunity to have access to paid employment and its associated conditions,
rights and responsibilities. Access to membership of trade unions is an
important aspect of working life for many people.

The fundamental issue to be
addressed is to ensure that workers with disabilities are able to exercise the
same rights as other workers and are able to join trade unions and participate
fully in all activities and undertake all the responsibilities of membership of
that union when they chose to do so. This issue means that the related issues of
access to membership and barriers to both membership and participation need to
be examined.

Workers in sheltered
employment have the same rights to organise
collectively and join trade unions as other workers. Also, they have the right
to seek to be covered by an industrial award or part of an award through the
appropriate registered trade union. Although union activity in sheltered
employment has been limited, there are indications that this is changing.

There is one union
specifically for workers with disabilities in sheltered employment. However, in
line with the principles and objectives of the DSA, it does not seem appropriate
for the development of any more generic unions. Workers with disabilities should
be encouraged to join the appropriate mainstream union.

Even where people with
disabilities are working in the general labour market,
they can confront barriers to joining and participating in union affairs.

These barriers or perceived
barriers include:

  • lack of information available to people with
    disabilities on the role of trade unions;
  • lack of information available to
    trade unionists on disability;
  • perceptions of trade unionists that there
    will be communication difficulties with people with disabilities;
  • perceived difficulties that people with severe disabilities will not have the
    legal capacity to enter into a contract with a union;
  • the level of dues
    payable when a worker is on a low wage level;
  • potential for demarcation
    disputes where sheltered workshops are involved in a range of work usually covered by different unions;
  • effect of union rules and hence coverage
    in relation to sheltered employment;
  • opposition in the general community
    to the role of trade unions; and
  • effect of sheltered workshops being
    excluded from industrial relations legislation.

Future directions for unionisation

There are a range of
strategies which could be implemented to address these barriers and perceived

Option 1: Information for
workers with disabilities

There is an apparent
need for information on the advantages of union membership to be presented to
workers with disabilities. The information could explain the way unions operate
and the benefits and responsibilities of membership.

This project could be jointly
organised through the Department of Community Services
and Health, the ACTU and state trades and labour
councils. It could be funded under the Disability Services Act (DSA).

Option 2: Information for

Union officials and union
members require information to address stereotyped views about people with
disabilities. Methods of communicating effectively with workers with
disabilities need to be further developed. Also, information on particular
issues which arise in relation to workers with disabilities and particular
workplaces need to be developed.

One method of addressing these
issues is to develop some training material. The cost of developing a training
manual and of printing and distribution could be funded under the DSA, as it
would conform with the principles and oblectives.

Option 3: Trade union training

TUTA performs a major role in
the training of union officials and elected workplace representatives. There are
two approaches which could be developed by TUTA.

A special section on members
with disabilities could he incorporated into all general training courses
conducted by TUTA. A second approach could be the development of a specific
course designed to address the special issues of members with disabilities, such
as appropriate communication and consultation mechanisms and the abilities of
such members.

The cost of developing the
special section of the general course and the special course could be funded
under the DSA, as it would conform with the principles
and objectives.

Option 4: Union resources

An important issue is the
availability of resources within unions and trades and labour councils to explain to workers with disabilities the
advantages of joining a trade union and to service any specific needs once they
become members.

A union or council could apply
for funding under the DSA for a short-term grant to employ a Disability Access
Officer for a particular period, for example two years, to develop strategies to
inform potential members of their right to join a union and the advantages of

Option 5: Increased ACTU

The ACTU could undertake a
specific project to encourage affiliates to give priority to the issue of
recruiting workers with disabilities into the union movement by providing
appropriate information and advice to individual unions and working with TUTA to
develop suitable training material.

The ACTU could apply for funding under
the DSA to be able to engage the necessary resources and people to undertake
such a project.


There are a number of legal
issues which affect workers with disabilities.

Definition of "employee"

Under common law principles,
it appears that a 'master and servant" relationship exists between management and workers with disabilities in sheltered employment, and
that a contract of service exists.

Other statutory obligations

For workers with disabilities
in sheltered employment, it appears that as an employment relationship exists
they are covered by the relevant state or federal legislation in the following

  • workers compensation;
  • occupational health and safety;
  • annual leave;
  • long service leave;
  • maternity and adoption
  • compassionate leave;
  • dismissal and suspension;
  • exemption from awards; and
  • direct deductions from wages.

The issue of a contract of
employment between the management of sheltered workshops and workers with
disabilities needs to be addressed. While some workshops have written contracts,
many appear not to have such a document. The advantage of a written contract is
that it provide clear and concise information to both
parties to the contract, and to the supporters and advocates of people with

Therefore, it is recommended that:

R9.1 Contracts entered into
between the Department of Community Services and Health and the management of
sheltered workshops and supported employment have as a term that it is a
condition of funding that all new entrants to the workshop or clients of
the service be provided with a written contract of employment and that all
existing workers with disabilities be provided with a written contract of
employment by December 1992 and that the written contracts be in a form which is
easily understood and which covers all the terms and conditions of employment.

This would ensure that both
parties are in an equitable situation and that there was a clearly defined set
of terms and conditions of employment which were binding on both parties and
were in a form which could be easily understood.


There is not one single factor
but a range of factors, some of which interlink, which need to be addressed. If
the principle that people with disabilities should have the right to full and
equal access to and participation in the labour market
is accepted, then it must be accepted also that strategies need to he designed
to remove or reduce these barriers to their participation. Without such action,
the present limitations and restrictions will continue. If these issues are not
addressed while the workforce undergoes restructuring and transformation, then
the interests of people with disabilities will be ignored and the necessary
changes will not be incorporated. Specific measures to address
these issues will further the implementation of the objects, principles and
objectives of the Disability Services Act (DSA).

The recommendations in the
discussion paper are designed as a comprehensive approach to the major issues
and priorities in further developing opportunities for people with disabilities
to be integrated into the general labour market
without discrimination, disadvantage or disincentives.

Co-ordinated approach

While most recommendations are
separate and could be divided up for the purposes of implementation, this would
lose the overall focus of the discussion paper. Therefore, they should be
considered within the framework in which they were developed - that is, as
separate parts of an overall strategy.

To achieve the primary focus,
it is proposed that a plan of action be developed and that it be called the
"National Employment Initiatives for People with Disabilities".

The plan would have four major

1. To further develop
employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the general labour market.

2. To establish effective mechanisms to
eliminate any discrimination, disadvantage or disincentive which confront people
with disabilities when endeavouring to enter, re-enter
or remain in the general labour market.

3. To
implement consultative mechanisms to identify an agreed course of action
resulting from the recommendations in this discussion paper.

4. After that process, to implement the identified policies.

The plan should be divided
into two parts to canvass separately the wages issue and the other three issues
EEO, unionisation and legal issues.

The rationale
for this proposal is that the issues surrounding the recommendations on future
developments in the area of wages involve a range of government and
non-government parties which have a specific and identified role to play in

Part I Wages

The first part of the plan
should address the issues of skills based wages. The nature of these issues
appears to indicate that the initial forum to consider the recommendations and
further courses of action is the Disability Taskforce.

The taskforce could develop a
co-ordinated Commonwealth Government response to the
recommendations, as all relevant Cominonwealth
Government departments are represented on the taskforce. The major role played
by the Department of Community Services and Health in identifying the need for
these policy issues to be addressed should be continued in the process of
identifying future policy options and strategies. The other departments with a
clear and identified involvement in the area are the Department of Social
Security, the Department of Employment, Education and Training and the
Department of Industrial Relations.

During the course of
developing a co-ordinated Government response, it will
be necessary to consult with parties outside government, particularly the ACTU,
employers' representatives and disability consumer and provider groups. The
taskforce could nominate the most appropriate departments and individuals to
undertake that process, possibly through the establishment of a special
committee. Also, it will be necessary to consult with state governments in
relation to establishing any new assessment system and the inter-relationship
between the existing slow worker permit systems and any such new system.

The initial priority during
this process should be to progress the methods of assessment for any skills
based wage system (sec recommendation 4.3). Unless and until there is a system
which is acceptable to all parties and which does not further entrench
discrimination against people with disabilities, then there can be no positive
progress to implement any national, comprehensive changes to existing

Under the auspices of the
Disability Taskforce, the relevant departments, particularly the Department of
Community Services and Health, should establish a working party to examine the
issues and establish a consultancy to develop guidelines for the assessment
process. The consultancy could utilise the experience
of placement services and others involved in the existing slow worker permit
system and in the assessment systems used in the general labour market. Workers with disabilities on slow worker
permits could be approached to ascertain whether they would be willing to
participate in a pilot study. While there are only approximately 150 such
workers around


, they represent an
identified pool of people involved in the process.

At the conclusion of the work
of the consultancy and the working party, a set of guidelines could be issued
which present a comprehensive and workable solution to the assessment process.
These guidelines would address the pertinent range of issues and present
practical methods of assessing a worker's skill level without bias or

After that process has been
undertaken, a new system for establishing a skills
based wage system could be established.

Part 2 EEO, unionisation, legal issues

The framework and timelines
for the recommendations and strategies on EEO, unionisation and legal issues can be seen as being part of a
unified package. Therefore, consultations and future developments can he
structured as an integrated approach.

The initial priorities should
be in relation to the targetted access program
(strategy 6) and the campaign for job redesign (strategy 11). Taken together,
these two strategies provide a complementary underpinning to meet the overall
objectives of the plan. They enable a focus on initiatives to demonstrate the
capacities and capabilities of people with disabilities and their abilities to
enter the general labour market. When linked with
anti-discrimination legislation on the ground of disability (recommendations
6.1, 6.2, 6.3), they will provide a comprehensive framework for future
developments. Consequently, the development and passage of such legislation
should be a priority also.

Other developments could be
undertaken initially by the Department of Community Services and Health as an
immediate priority, as these strategies are within their area of operations. For
example, further consultations with the relevant parties around the issue of
targetting DSA funded programs (strategy 7) could be
commenced, as could work in the work attendant carer
scheme (strategy 12), the employer education campaign (strategy 10), the
community education campaign (strategy 14) and the family support network
(strategy 15). Also, recommendation 9.1 in relation to introducing written
contracts of employment between workers and management in sheltered employment
and supported employment could be initiated through discussions with relevant

Contact could be established
with the Affirmative Action Agency (strategy 13) and the Minister for Transport
(strategy 16) to establish their responses to the proposed strategies. As the
Department of Community Services and Health initiated this discussion paper, the
preliminary contact should be undertaken by officers of that department.

Similarly, contact could be
continued with the ACTU, trades and labour councils
and some relevant national unions to explore the methods of implementing the
recommendations in chapter 8 and the response of those bodies to the
recommendations. As the Department of Community Services and Health initiated
this discussion paper, the preliminary contact should be undertaken by officers
of that department.

Consultation processes

Specific action for a number
of different options or strategies should be undertaken simultaneously with
wider consultative processes. This report has been framed as a discussion paper,
and while it makes some recommendations they are based on an assumption that
there will be further discussion amongst and between interested parties and the
community prior to implementation.

Effective national
consultation processes around such a discussion paper can be difficult to organise to achieve the maximum results for the resources
and time expended. While the role of different parties in some of the
recommendations, options and strategies is recognised, the consultation
processes must cover all areas raised in this discussion paper.

Some consultation methods can
disadvantage some groups. For example, response by way of written submissions
can advantage larger, well-organised groups with
resources to prepare submissions and disadvantage smaller groups or individuals
without the organisational capacity to undertake such
work. This is especially so given the target group of this report. Also, larger
groups have expended considerable resources in the preparation of submissions
and oral evidence to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs.

A consultation process is
proposed to meet the needs of all parties and in recognition of the particular
needs of the target group.

The department could establish
a steering committee, chaired by an independent expert, to oversee the
consultation processes and provide a focus for the results of the processes.

Representatives of all major
parties could be included on this committee. It is recognised that all other
parties have access to established avenues to consult their membership and
providing responses. However, people with disabilities, their supporters and
advocates are not necessarily part of any organisations.

To ensure that people with
disabilities are provided with a mechanism to participate in the consultations,
forums could be held in each state or major region. These could be held three
months after the distribution of the discussion paper, to allow time for the
recommendations to be debated generally.

While there are various
mechanisms to arrange such forums, it appears that there are two feasible
options. One would be for the department's state offices to arrange the forums.
An alternate approach would be for the department to fund a disability consumer
group or a combination of groups in each state or region to organise the forum on its behalf. The latter option may
allow more flexibility in response and broaden the potential audience for the

The results of the discussions
at the forum could be fed back to the steering committee, and it would be
anticipated that at least one steering committee member would be able to attend
each forum. This would ensure that the committee's final analysis reflects those

While that process was
occurring, the other parties could be involved in the preparation of their own
responses through consultation with their membership.

After those processes had been
undertaken, a targetted national conference could be
held. The steering committee would be responsible for the overall organisation
of the conference and such matters as development of the agenda, speakers and
invitees. The department would be required to provide administrative support or
to fund an organisation to do so on their behalf.

The rationale behind this proposal is that a smaller, targetted conference after a period of general discussion
means that the responses are related to the recommendations and enable a
coherent analysis to be presented to government. This would reflect the views
and responses of all interested parties and individuals to the content of the
discussion paper.

A brief report on the outcome
of the consultation processes could be prepared, through the auspices of the
steering committee. This report could identify priorities and could raise other
issues which had arisen during the course of the consultations but which were
not canvassed in this discussion paper. It must be stressed that these processes
will relate only to the issue of employment initiatives for people with
disabilities, and not to other issues which are relevant for this group.


The immediate resource
implications are for the Department of Community Services and Health in relation
to the development and implementation of a range of consultative mechanisms,
including working with and through the Disability Taskforce. There are resources
implications for a number of the options and strategies, including staffing
resources at a bureaucratic level and funding of agencies outside the
Commonwealth Government to undertake some of the duties and functions.

To ensure that any
implementation is effective and able to achieve its objectives, there must be a
commitment of adequate resources from all parties involved in the various


The range of factors, options
and strategies which are analysed in this report means
that there is no single identifiable party which carries the sole responsibility
for any implementation of the options and strategies in this discussion paper.
Rather, there are a number of different parties which have varying roles to

The Commonwealth Government
has a clear role in terms of the delivery of services and the implementation of
new and existing policies, programs and legislative provisions. State
governments have a similar, and sometimes overlapping, role in some areas and an
independent role in others.

People with disabilities and
their parents, supporters and advocates have responsibilities to ensure that
they are aware of changes which could improve the economic well-being and other
areas of life for people with disabilities by any increase in their
opportunities to enter the general labour

Disability consumer and
service provider groups have responsibilities in the same area, although their
primary focus and methods used to transmit information and advice may differ.

The major parties in the
general labour market also have responsibilities to
ensure that that market operates without discrimination and disadvantage towards
people with disabilities. The two main parties are the trade union movement and
its constituent members and employers' representatives and their constituent

The Australian community also
has a major role to play in eliminating discrimination against people with
disabilities, in assisting in creating opportunities in integrated workplaces
and in actively participating in, and supporting, programs and policies designed
to achieve that objective.

If this inter-meshing of responsibilities is
accepted and acted upon by all the identified parties, then the future
development and implementation of pro-active policies and programs for workers
and potential workers with disabilities will be able to be realised.


The strategies and priorities
discussed in this chapter have been developed to provide a focus to the on-going
work in the area of increasing integrated employment opportunities for people
with disabilities and are put forward as a possible framework for that to

The principles which underpin
the discussion paper and which the recommendations, options and strategies seek
to implement provide a comprehensive framework for further developing employment
opportunities for people with disabilities. They need to be adopted by all
relevant parties and while the responsibilities for different approaches may
vary, there needs to be a co-ordinated path to be
pursued so that these principles will be achieved.