Disability Minister Mitch Fifield has confirmed that Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) will not be subject to a tender exercise. He made the announcement at this week’s CEO Meeting. NDS has made strong representations to the Government arguing against a tender process for ADEs as they prepare for the NDIS. We applaud the Minister’s announcement.
The Government has yet to decide what will replace the current contract in mid 2015 and NDS will undertake further discussions with the Department about options.
The Minister’s announcement goes some way to easing the uncertainty preoccupying the sector, allowing it to focus on ensuring that ADEs remain viable and continue to offer sustainable jobs to people with disability. NDS believes that an industry plan is required to assist ADEs to be financially viable (particularly by establishing a national procurement program that engages all levels of government), drives performance and innovation and assists ADEs to prepare for the NDIS.
At the CEO Meeting, Minister Fifield also indicated that the Government may seek to have the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payments Scheme Bill re-considered by the Senate in the new year, following the Bill’s recent rejection by just one vote. NDS understands that crossbench senators have been contacted by ADE representatives, parents, employees and other supporters. NDS has also held discussions with several senators on the merits of the Payments Scheme Bill.
Meanwhile, the Fair Work Commission is holding another BSWAT conciliation hearing today. The Commission has been hearing detailed arguments from various parties on the pros and cons of the Supported Wage System and its applicability in supported employment. NDS, employer bodies and ADE representatives are presenting the sector’s case today.
NDS will continue to keep members informed on the progress of these important matters.