NCID open letter to Assistant Minister for Social Services

An open letter to Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services

Dear Minister Fifield

With respect, you cannot go on national radio (AM, Radio National 7 May 2014) and say to people with intellectual disability and their families that people with significant intellectual disability are unable to work in the open labour market (open employment).

This is factually wrong.

  • Your Department has up to 40 years of research showing that people with intellectual disability (IQ Your government has for 27 years funded organisations that demonstrate that people with significant intellectual disability with the right support are working in the open labour market; which reduces their reliance and your expenditure on the Disability Support Pension (DSP).
  • Your government funds Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) that pay award based wages using the Supported Wages System; and they are viable.
  • Your government funds ADEs that use the BSWAT (found by the High Court to be discriminatory) to pay wages, yet they make substantial profits and so can afford to pay fair wages by using the SWS.
  • Your Department knows that if an ADE pays a fair wage this will decrease your government’s DSP bill.

People with significant intellectual disability and your government can have it all! It is possible to work, be paid fairly, have a part pension, receive support, enjoy social interaction and be employed in open employment or in an ADE. The package does not have to include discrimination.

People with intellectual disability, their families and NCID support welfare reform, a reduction in DSP budget costs, through the right support to get a decent job and a decent wage.

Yours sincerely

Mark Pattison
Executive Director