Jobseekers with disabilities will have a better path to employment through a federal government trial to connect National Disability Insurance Scheme clients with employment service providers.
The pilot program to begin in 2023 aims to ensure Disability Employment Services providers work in tandem with government support systems.
The NDIS employment support system and DES are currently similar but distinct systems.
The NDIS service helps clients find jobs within Australian Disability Enterprises, which are generally not-for-profits.
DES providers include a much wider range of employers that support workers with disabilities in the workplace.
Under the trial, those with NDIS employment support will receive additional help identifying barriers and simplifying recruitment processes if they want to engage with a DES provider.
About 2.1 million Australians living with disabilities are of working age in Australia. However, 93 per cent of unemployed people aged 15 to 64 with disability experience difficulties in finding work.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said increasing employment opportunities could change lives and reduce the disadvantage and discrimination experienced by people living with disability.
“Sometimes all people with disability need is an opportunity, and a society and workforce that reflect genuine inclusiveness,” Rishworth told a national forum on disability strategy on Wednesday.
“Of course, we recognise not everyone with disability wants to work. But, it is vital the choice is there.”
The DES has faced criticism in the past. In December, the disability royal commission heard providers weren’t achieving necessary outcomes, with some job placements ending abruptly and others lasting only for the duration of government subsidies.
“There are some services that need to lift their game,” Ms Rishworth said.
“Some of the feedback to improve the disability employment system can be done quickly while other parts will take some time.”
In last week’s budget, the Labor government extended the DES scheme to 2025, allowing it time to make improvements and address concerns.
“The two-year extension will not mean that sensible changes will not be made to improve performance and quality, and deliver a better service for people living with disability as soon as practicable,” the minister said.
The budget set aside an extra $8.8 billion in NDIS funding to hire more staff, address operational costs and provide better support for its clients at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
The federal government has also committed to increasing rates of public service workers with disabilities from 4.7 per cent to 7 per cent over the next three years.