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A reform Disability Services needs to push

By Peter Gibilisco - posted Tuesday, 20 December 2011


Direct Payments cuts, the financial costs and messy paper-work associated with disability supports, has changed the financial middleman and putt some control over how the state government's Disability Services - Department of Human Services' (DHS) money is spent. It places it directly into the hands of the disability support users.

Direct Employment takes Direct Payments further, by allowing the person with disabilities, family or Trustee to be an employer and administrator of his/her own support workers (disability supports).

A person with disabilities, family or trustee, if accepted, can apply for an Australian Business Number and, according to the rules of Direct Employment, may start up the management and employment of their own disability support.

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Therefore, a large amount of money is put into the training of disability professionals. But there is little credit given to the ability of people with disabilities, who often act in management roles, for the day-to-day management of their home based support workers or the management of disability professionals.

Direct Employment practices the belief that the people being supported are, more often than not, the best teachers regarding the support they need and how it can be delivered.

In short, whether through a financial intermediary or direct payments, you are locked into paying your service provider close to or the full amount of the hourly rate of $37.30 per hour, provided by Disability Services. Yet, Disability Service Providers only pay Support Workers a meager portion - around $20 per hour.

Therefore, the amount of around $17 per hour is quite substantial and should be used for what it was intended - rather than being used to pay a hierarchy of administrative wages for the service providers.

Direct Employment, is to ensure that financial control of the supports being used is in the hands of people with disabilities, family or trustee. They will have far less overhead costs and can look at increasing workplace morale by increasing wages and/or increasing the hours work available.

And so, the Disability Services will be asking people with disabilities, family or trustees, to take on these roles, sharing their know-how and experience when it comes to disability supports - something which usually takes a disability professional many years to achieve through training.

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Often, the need for disability support is stretched beyond the means offered by government and NGOs. Individuals and groups are left needing disability support at times when the service fails to keep up with growing need.

Direct Employment develops the empowerment of people with disabilities, by giving to them more control over their disability supports. Also, this will give them the ability to build up responses to problems faced by many individuals with disabilities, as well as their families, friends and community.

Direct Employment can build ways to gain information about how people can use community-based peer relationships, such as the necessary communication requirements and other methods that can be used to support each other. This can lead to a greater independence and a trimming of the work load and stress on those with growing needs for disability supports.

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About the Author

Peter is a person who has Friedreich’s Ataxia a neurological condition that is progressive and has left him confined to a wheelchair, but too uncoordinated to make use of an electric one and with slurred speech, to name a few inherent challenges. Despite this he has shown a command of different abilities completing a Ph.D at the University of Melbourne, recently appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne. He has just released a book Politics, Disability and Social Inclusion available here http://petergibilisco.com.au/

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