Supported Open Employment Project
AN INNOVATIVE EMPLOYMENT PLAN FOR PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL AND/OR MULTIPLE DISABILITIES REQUIRING DAILY SUPPORT
AMAZING SPONSORSHIP FROM Roche Products Pty Ltd
Without Roche Products Pty Ltd financial support this innovative project would not have been possible.
We thank Warringah Council and its Environment department for joining us in this project by providing work opportunities for our people with disabilities in various parks, reserves and sites throughout our local community
GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROJECT
The Pilot project puts into practice the missing and very much needed employment services and career opportunities for people with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities. This being so, the sponsors of the project will significantly contribute to the plight of many people with disabilities to have and retain valuable and meaningful employment, and hence, allow greater contribution to the community.
Northside Enterprise Inc is a not-for-profit organisation, with the status of a charitable organization (donations/gifts tax deductible), providing post school programs for people with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities living in the LGA’s of Pittwater, Warringah, Manly, Mosman and Lower North Shore. Northside provides services to PWD over 18 yrs of age that receive Dep’t of Ageing, Disability & Home Care funding for their Community Participation (CPP), Post School Options (PSO),Life Choices, Leisure Link or Transition to Work (TTW) programs.
Dep’t of Ageing, Disability & Home Care funding for our Transition to Work program is a time-limited (2 years) funding for each individual service user attending the TTW program. In essence, Northside Enterprise Inc. is required under the funding agreement to train the young people with disabilities in pre-vocational and employment skills so that at the end of the two-years he/she is able to enter into employment (either supported or open). Those young people with disabilities who do not succeed in becoming “work ready” at the end of the 2-year TTW program are able to apply for a six month extension of funding and training.
As part of its current Strategic Plan Northside plans to create an employment model that provides ongoing daily support to workers within an enclave, working crew or business enterprise model with the opportunity to undertake accredited training that links with their employment and learning goals.
Work is important because it is a normal, expected and respected undertaking for adults in the Australian society. Adults with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities are included in these pursuits to normality, expectations and respect within our society. However, unlike non-disabled adults, people with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities do not enjoy a wide choice of employment opportunities. This seems to be associated with the amount and intensity of support some people with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities need in order to sustain employment. Hence, the last two decades in New South Wales have mainly limited employment of people with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities within Supported Employment/Business Services (which is a ‘sheltered’ or segregated work opportunity, with ongoing support) and Open Employment with minimal support (working in community based jobs among non-disabled people).
While most adults with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities succeed in either models/work opportunities, that is, retain their jobs, there is a relatively significant number of those who fail in Open Employment within two years. Information and experience available strongly suggest that such job loss is due to factors that can be avoided through consistent and adequate ongoing support. The person who loses his/her job in Open Employment may wait a long time for a chance to secure another job in the open job market, may not secure one at all ever again or may join the segregated Supported Employment services, working in an environment where most co-workers are significantly more disabled and usually limited to the packaging industry.
Northside Enterprise Inc. is establishing a Supported Open Employment Service which would provide for the needs of those people with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities who need higher than currently available support in order to succeed long-term in their jobs in the open employment sector.
To achieve this Supported Open Employment Service Northside Enterprise Inc must rely for at least two years on charitable fundraising/ or sponsorship by community organisations/ businesses as there is no government funding available at this stage for such innovative employment services for people with disabilities.
After two years of operations Northside plans to seek a review of government funding guidelines with view to attracting funding for the program in similar fashion as currently available for employment support services.
To provide a supported open employment option for people with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities as part of their career pathway in partnership with the local business community, service providers and education providers supported by training in accredited courses and individual programming.
- To provide an alternative employment option that builds in intermittent support on an ongoing basis for young adults with an intellectual and/or multiple disability that has the flexibility to respond to their individual needs.
- To provide certified nationally recognised qualifications through training that links directly with industry and individuals needs to support their employment or employment goals.
- To provide practical work experience programs for people with disabilities with our business partners in either a volunteer, paid or work experience capacity alongside semi open employment models.
- To work with the local business community, councils and other service providers in partnership to continue to create more learning and employment pathways for people with disabilities.
- Be recognised as a best practice organisation in innovative training and employment options.
- Provide young adults with a disability with a committed creative and holistic service.
- To be an employer of choice with people with disabilities and staff through capacity building, training and development.
- To continuously improve to respond to the changing needs of individuals and business and training community.
- To remunerate people with disabilities with productivity based rates that are fairly and transparently calculated.
- To provide more choice for people with disabilities to share in the changing labour market in satisfying and meaningful employment.
Models of Open Supported Employment – generally
A group of people with disabilities (max 10) working within a business with a support worker to provide ongoing daily support.
A small group of PWD contracted to council or local business with a support worker to provide ongoing daily support and maintain contractual administration and plan and organize daily tasks.
A business enterprise employing PWD with Northside and/or other business partners administering the business to produce a product or provide a service for profit to the public and local community.
Current PILOT Project:
- Over 2 years commencing 2008 (upon securing funds/sponsorship)
- Establish Working Crew – Bush Regeneration (Bush Link). Three days per week; up to 5 people with disabilities + support staff. Working with Warringah Council to maintain local bushland sites.