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GIVE THE GIFT OF HOPE THIS CHRISTMAS

GIVE THE GIFT OF HOPE THIS CHRISTMAS

Posted by Phillip Camela.

This Christmas there will be people with disability who will lose their jobs. In 2014, Richard an AED client, was dignosed with cancer, lost his job and as a result his family home.

The Association of Employees with Disability Inc. (AED) is there to help and support people like Richard to get over their anxieties and fears and give them hope for a better future.

You can help us in this mission by giving AED a Christmas Gift.

To donate to AED please click this link: https://www.goodcompany.com.au/charity/Association-of-Employees-with-Disability-Inc

Phillip Camela Posted by Phillip Camela.
FWC DEPUTY PRESIDENT ANNA BOOTH RELEASES PUBLIC STATEMENT ON CONCILIATION PROCESS

FWC DEPUTY PRESIDENT ANNA BOOTH RELEASES PUBLIC STATEMENT ON CONCILIATION PROCESS

Posted by Phillip Camela.

STATEMENT

DEPUTY PRESIDENT BOOTH                          SYDNEY, 15 OCTOBER 2015

Progress in conciliation.

[1] In December 2013 United Voice and the Health Services Union made an application to the Fair Work Commission to vary the Supported Employment Services Award in relation to the setting of wages for employees in supported employment. These employees are employed in Australian Disability Enterprises.

[2] In June 2014 a Full Bench of Commission referred the application to conciliation before me.

[3] The parties represented in the conciliation include the unions, the ACTU, National

Disability Services (NDS), Australian Business Limited (ABL), disability advocacy representatives, Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) and representatives of parents and carers.

[4] These parties have attended conciliation, with the Department of Social Services observing, throughout 2014 and 2015.

[5] During conciliation and between sessions the parties have exchanged views and undertaken intensive research in an effort to reach agreement on matters  before the

[6] The parties agree that their shared objectives are:

a) A fair, equitable and non-discriminatory wage outcome to contribute to a living income for employees in supported employment;

b) Continued opportunity for employment in supported employment settings to build and maintain the self-esteem and sense of purpose of employees;

c) Sustainable employment opportunities in viable ADEs; and

d) To provide security and confidence to employees, parents and carers for the future.

[7] The parties are developing options, including modelling, to endeavour to meet these objectives.

[8] Conciliation will continue.

 

DEPUTY PRESIDENT

Printed by authority of the Commonwealth Government Printer

 

Phillip Camela Posted by Phillip Camela.
Personal attacks and threats against Ms Wilson

Personal attacks and threats against Ms Wilson

Posted by Phillip Camela.

Sadly, we must report that in the last month or so AED's Principal Solicitor Ms Wilson has been the subject of a vilification campaign made up of personal attacks as well as threats to AED's funding. The fact that this campaign was conducted via a series of unsolicited e-mails rather than by phone or face-to-face, from people unknown to us, speaks volume of their character and moral fibre.

The issue of employment and wage justice for people with disability is an important one and should be approached with maturity and intelligence. Personal attacks such as " I hope you will be able to sleep after causing so much misery to so many of the disabled"; " You are actively trying to destroy the life of my sister... "; "You are too concerned about being the hero to listen to your heart and hear about the devastation you are trying to wreak" or " there are 600 lives you are ruining" do little to further the debate, they are a reactionary and pathetic attempt at intimidation and bullying.

The subject of the emails is Ms Wilson's work on the wage assessment tool and more particularly the Greenacres Wage Assessment Tool. What seems to have precipitated the anger in certain quarters is the fact that an employee with a disability lodged a complaint of discrimination with the Australian Human Rights Commission against an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) that used the Greenacres Competency Based Assessment Tool.  This ADE was not Greenacres itself and yet it is Greenacres that is reacting.

It is worth to note that Greenacres Industries itself is an ADE and its CEO Mr Chris Christodoulou is a member of Group currently working with the Fair Work Commission to develop a new wage assessment tool for employees in ADEs. Ms Wilson is also a member of this group and as such her email address is available to group members. This email address however is restricted by confidentiality and not available to the general public.

Mr Christodoulou has been allegedly conducting a media campaign and has been reported as saying in the Illawarra Mercury12/5/14 that " Greenacres Industries would be forced to shut down leaving 240 disabled workers unemployed if a case to go before the Fair Work Commission is upheld ".

We believe there is little doubt about who leaked Ms. Wilson's email address and for what purpose it was given out.

There are a number of things in common to all the emails:

1. They are from parents or relatives of employees of Greenacres
2  They say Greenacres is a wonderful workplace
3. They say that wages are not that important 
4. They say that ADEs spend monies on providing support services
5. They say that Ms. Wilson does not understand the issues
6. They say that Ms Wilson does not represent them
7. They say or infer that government should not fund AED Legal Centre 

People can have their own viewpoints but there are matters of fact that need to be set straight for the record:

1. Ms Wilson has never said that ADEs provide " slave labour" and we challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

2. Ms Wilson has never said that ADEs should close down nor does she believe that they should close down. In her view ADEs provide an avenue for supported employment for people with disability who otherwise would not be able to participate in the labour market. 

3. ADEs receive each year more than $260 million from the Australian Government to provide the supports that employees with disabilities need to work in ADEs. So, these supports are funded by the Australian taxpayer and not the ADEs.

4. The Federal Government is providing to ADEs an additional sum of $173 million to pay for the development and implementation of a new wage assessment tool and to cover higher wages. In addition to that sum, the Government announced in the last budget an investment of $17 million on business development to improve the viability of ADEs. On the 25 August of this year the then Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield announced that " The Australian Government is delivering employment certainty for up to 20,000 people with disability by committing more than $650 million to Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) jobs over the next three years".  In light of this, talk of ADEs closing down and job losses are nothing more than scaremongering.

5. AED Legal Centre's  National Wage Justice Campaign is not funded by the Government or the Australian Tax Payer, rather, it is funded independently by other sources.

We will protest the leakage of Ms Wilson's email address to Vice President Booth from the Fair Work Commission in the strongest possible terms. We also would like to note that lawyers must always act on instruction from their clients. AED did not seek out a complaint against the Greenacres Competency Based Assessment Tool, we were contacted by a client who felt his/her wage was assessed in an unfair manner.

We will continue, undeterred, to represent people with disability who ask for our assistance.   

Phillip Camela                     Gaetano Ravida
General Manager                  Chairperson - AED Legal Centre

Phillip Camela Posted by Phillip Camela.
NDIS delayed is NDIS denied

NDIS delayed is NDIS denied

Posted by Phillip Camela.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is once again in the opinion cycle with speculation about its timing, most recently in The baby and the bathwater: let’s keep the NDIS but slow down its roll-out published recently in The Conversation by David Gilchrist as well as reporting of calls for a localised NDIS by WA Disability Minister Helen Morton.

While the social arguments for the NDIS have been well canvassed there has been less debate about where the NDIS sits in the wider landscape of gridlocked national reform.

The recent National Reform Summit hosted by The Australian, The Australian Financial Review and KPMG generated a lot of commentary about reform amidst the structural problems facing the Budget. I was at the Summit, and the headwinds coming out of the end of the China mining boom are sobering. We will need to lift productivity to maintain our living standards.

Business, community and unions shared a surprising level of frustration about the inability to tackle issues and pull off complex reform in a fickle political culture with a 140 character attention span.  

It’s interesting to note that while Former Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson expressed doubts about financial viability on the event’s sidelines, not one serious leader from the combined ranks of business, community, think tankers, government and union leaders actually questioned the funding priority given to the Scheme during the Summit. If there were serious doubts, this was the place to voice them. 

Perhaps this is because the national interest case for the Scheme is so strong and accords with virtually all the reform themes identified during the Summit. 

In a message broadcast at the start of the summit, the Prime Minister highlighted the fact that “today’s prosperity can be traced to yesterday’s reforms”. 

We may well say that about the NDIS by the time the nation faces the full economic headwinds predicted to arrive by 2020. 

Taxpayers are already “buying” disability care and this is closer to a zero sum game than we realise.  At the moment what we are buying is inferior product. Hand me down supports scattered across levels of government that periodically leak costs into the health, justice and acute care systems.

This has downstream costs as families break down, people get into trouble and supports run out half way through the financial year. People get put into nursing homes or institutions that expose them to neglect, abuse and violence, bought into stark relief by the Senate Inquiry and the Royal Commission. 

We cannot look to informal supports for help. The number of carers is declining as fewer women take up traditional caring roles that have masked the lack of a decent care and support system. Estimates by credible bodies like NATSEM suggest that at the same time the numbers of older persons with a severe or profound disability in Australia are projected to grow from 539,000 in 2001 to 1,390,000 in 2031, an increase of about 160% [1].   

A lack of early intervention means children with disabilities use non-prescription wheelchairs and grow up with curved spines needing costly corrective surgery. Parents struggle for autism therapy despite evidence that getting in early can make a difference. Australia has the lowest combined level of participation and the highest level of poverty for people with disability in the OECD. 

The Summit also heard from Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens that competition spurs innovation. Well, disability supports have been sadly lacking competition for decades. Block funding and a lack of consumer power has created wild distortions, such as a soup spoon with a bent handle for people with arthritis costing anywhere from $10-$60. Roll on the innovation. 

Critics offer no alternatives to the NDIS, and the piece by David Gilchrist, while it raises legitimate issues in the transition, punches no holes in the underlying rationale for reform. It doesn't tell us what a proper planning process for the whole rollout would look like or how we could arrive at one.  Instead it suggests a vague process of withdrawal, regrouping and introspection.

Stopping? Slowing? Localising? The alternatives are all a bit unclear.   

Meanwhile in the real world, an NDIS is past ponderous examination. A Federal Government which delays will face a tsunami of united outrage from people with disability, families and carers. People with disability, some on the cusp of the age cut off for the scheme, have waited 40 years for help.  They won’t wait any longer for someone to replace patched up callipers and wheelchairs from the last century. Ageing parents in their 80s and 90s will not put up with knocking at death’s door for basic supports and peace of mind either. The fury would be unprecedented.

Politics aside there is another reason for seeing the NDIS to fruition, and that is about good policy. 

If we "stop" the NDIS rollout we will be saying goodbye to the only really big intergovernmental reform to get over the line in any national policy area since the introduction of the GST and virtually the only big bipartisan one since the gun buyback in the early days of the Howard Government. 

Have no doubt, once a halt is called the proceeds of the NDIS levy will be siphoned away by revenue hungry States as Governments resume their merry game of cost-shifting for disability services. The unheralded bipartisan support for the scheme will vanish like smoke in the wake of the following COAG meeting while the underpinning cost drivers get worse, left for the grandkids to fix.  

Slowing down the NDIS will not mean Australians stop paying for disability services nor seal the leaks on a sinking system. But we may lose far more than we realise – our capacity to propose and deliver complex systemic reform in modern Australia. 

[1] Who’s going to care? Informal care and an ageing population, Report prepared for Carers Australia by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, Page 27

Craig Wallace is the President of People with Disability Australia. Craig is an occasional opinion editorial commentator and has been published in The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, Fairfax online, The Guardian and The Canberra Times. Craig is a member of the ACT Disability Expert Panel and won the ACT Chief Ministers Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Inclusion in 2014. He was awarded a Centenary Medal in the Australian Honours List in 2003 for service to the community, especially on access issues and featured in the Australia Day Awards four times for work with the Australian Public Service. Craig works as a community sector campaign manager for ACTCOSS and PWDACT as well as a consultant. He has a disability and uses a wheelchair for mobility.

 

Phillip Camela Posted by Phillip Camela.
32,000 Indigenous Australians could be blind by 2025

32,000 Indigenous Australians could be blind by 2025

Posted by Phillip Camela.

ABC AM

By: Bridget Brennan

1 September 2015

A report from the University of Melbourne said the eyesight of those people could be saved if the Federal Government invested an extra $23 million a year.

The study's lead author, Professor Hugh Taylor, said evidence suggested Indigenous Australians were not getting the care they needed to see clearly.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children start off with much better vision than non-Indigenous children," he said.

"By the time they reach the age of 40 and above the average Torres Strait Islander adult has six times as much blindness and over three times as much poor vision."

The report found Australia could save money in the long term if the Federal Government boosted spending on preventing vision loss among Indigenous people.

The university commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to analyse the Government's annual $40 million spend on Indigenous eye health.

PwC partner James van Smeerdijk said to eliminate preventable blindness in Indigenous communities, the Government would need to spend an extra $23 million a year for the next 10 years.

"If we can return sight to 32,000 people, that will help a lot of people into the workforce," he said.

"The additional $23 million a year, or $227 million for 10 years, is only about half a per cent of the health budget.

"I think it's a pretty modest investment."

'Pathway of care like a leaky pipe'

Vision degeneration, cataracts and eyesight problems caused by diabetes are the common causes of blindness in Indigenous communities.

The bacterial eye infection trachoma still spreads in many remote communities, caused by poor hygiene.

In the Northern Territory, the Jimmy Little Foundation was having some success rolling out songs and video about trachoma awareness, but the Federal Government cut all of its funding this year.

The foundation's chief executive, Buzz Bidstrup, said the funding cuts had eliminated important programs.

"Some really, really important frontline programs and delivery mechanisms are being bypassed for funds that are directed into another bucket, which then become savings," he said.

Professor Taylor said he was worried that the systems in place would not provide adequate care.

"We've looked in detail at the patient's journey, or the pathway of care, and we've said it's like a leaky pipe," he said.

"There are lots of cracks where people can just fall through the system.

"So if somebody is referred to get further treatment or a pair of glasses, they actually get it rather than just having the money spent on a wasted visit."

The university's Indigenous Eye Health Unit has presented its report to the Department of Health in Canberra.

Phillip Camela Posted by Phillip Camela.
IMPORTANT UPDATE - BSWAT CLASS ACTION

IMPORTANT UPDATE - BSWAT CLASS ACTION

Important Update on BSWAT Class Action
Maurice and Blackburn Lawyers,

The Class Action was made on behalf of supported employees with intellectual disability, who had their wages assessed using the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) between 1 January 2004 and 28 May 2014.
This is the last chance for class members to have a say about this important legal case. A special session of the Federal Court is being held, where the Judge is expected to make a decision abo...ut the settlement. Class members may attend the special session taking place on 12 December, at the Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts Building in Melbourne CBD.
Regardless of the outcome of the Class Action, supported employees with intellectual disability, affected by this case should still register for the BSWAT Payment Scheme.

If class members are happy to be involved in the case and they agree with the settlement, they are not required to do anything.

Class members who are not happy with the settlement, or do not want to be a part of the Class Action, you need to notify one of the following by 7 December 2016.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers:
T: 1800 654 990
The Federal Court of Australia:
T: 03 8600 3333

Failure to make reasonable adjustments for employee with disability cost employer over $170k

Failure to make reasonable adjustments for employee with disability cost employer over $170k

19 July 2015

Article by Louise Rumble and James True

Marque Lawyers

The Federal Circuit Court has ruled that Corrective Services NSW unlawfully discriminated against Caryn Huntley, an employee, who suffered from Crohn'sDisease and idiopathic hypersomnolanceby failing to make "reasonable adjustments".

While the Court found a number of flaws in Corrective Services NSW's handling of the medical condition and subsequent termination, it focussed on the employer's obligations around "reasonable adjustments". Suffering the disease and sleep disorder ("disabilities" for the purposes of disability discrimination legislation), Ms Huntley had provided medical evidence to the employer regarding her ability to perform her role which, relevantly, included some travel.

The Court found the employer had misinterpreted that evidence when it determined Ms Huntley should be medically retired because she was unable to travel for more than 30 minutes. On the contrary, that medical evidence asserted Ms Huntley could take trips greater than 30 minutes, so long as she was able to take a break along the way. A reasonable adjustment to make?

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (Act) provides that an employer will not have unlawfully discriminated against an employee if, because of the disability, the employee would be unable to carry out the inherent requirements of the job even if the employer made reasonable adjustments for that employee. Under the Act, an adjustment is reasonable unless making it would impose an unjustifiable hardship on the employer.

So, did Corrective Services NSW make reasonable adjustments? Basing its decision on the fact the employer had misinterpreted the medical evidence presented by Ms Huntley, had considered the condition an "illness" rather than a "disability" (the latter meaning the disability discrimination legislation was relevant) and subsequently terminated the employment, the Court said no.

Corrective Services NSW had failed to: consider the inherent requirements of the role; consider any reasonable adjustments that could be made to assist the employee to perform the inherent requirements; and implement those adjustments. Relevantly, the employer was ordered to pay compensation for pain and suffering and breach of contract to the tune of over $170k plus interest.

Lessons learned: employers ought to carefully consider whether an employee's illness or medical condition is a "disability" and, if so, take steps to comply with the obligations which arise from the disability discrimination legislation. A failure to do so could be costly.

We do not disclaim anything about this article. We're quite proud of it really.

 

 

 

NDIS Appeals Flowchart

NDIS Appeals Flowchart

AED Legal Centre is currently providing assistance to NDIS participants who are seeking a review of an NDIS decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

For more information about this service please contact AED Legal Centre, Suite 4 Level 9, 276 Flinders Street, Melbourne, 3000.

Ph:(03) 9639 4333 or email noni.lord@aed.org.au

(03) 9639 4333

Suite 4 Level 9
276 Flinders St
Melbourne 3000

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