A. Restructure the Disability Employment Assistance Program
A1. Disability Employment Assistance - Introduction of a Case Based Funding Model
- 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2005 - case based funding price increase, training for providers, pricing study for Business Services.
- 1 March 2004 to 30 June 2006 - funding for assessments of existing clients.
- 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2006 - communication and consultations.
- 1 July 2004 - voluntary transition to case based funding for Business Services.
- 1 July 2005 and ongoing - all other elements.
Case based funding is a fee-for-service arrangement, where fees are paid to service providers to assist job seekers with disabilities to find and keep employment. The case based funding arrangements will be introduced for all disability employment services from 1 January 2005. Case based funding fees are linked to the job seeker or worker's support needs and are paid as employment milestones are achieved. The new arrangements give providers financial incentives to help job seekers achieve durable employment outcomes.
Funding for disability employment assistance will increase by $135.3 million over four years with the implementation of a case based funding model. That is an increase of 14 per cent for disability employment assistance in 2006-07, which is the first full year of case based funding.
The measure will improve the employment outcome for 6,000 new job seekers, which will reduce income support outlays.
Employment Assistance funding levels for new job seekers receiving assistance under the current trial of case based funding arrangements will increase from 1 July 2003. Transition support for service providers begins from 1 July 2003, with funding for case based funding training, client assessments, communication and consultations.
Further analysis of the cost of service delivery in Business Services will be undertaken over 12 months and a review of the funding classification process will be completed by February 2004.
Case based funding will apply to all disability employment services and all new job seekers from 1 January 2005. For clients receiving assistance under the existing block grant funding arrangements at that date, conversion to case based funding will occur over an 18-month period. Business Services will have the option for earlier conversion to case based funding, to start from 1 July 2004.
Current funding levels for very high cost job seekers will be maintained to ensure support continues for these clients. Service providers will be contracted for three years (replacing the current annual block grant funding arrangement), to give greater certainty over the new arrangements.
The case based funding model, revised as a result of the case based funding trial evaluation and sector consultations, will be introduced from 1 January 2005. The model includes incentives for service delivery in rural and remote areas, apprenticeship and traineeship placements and work based personal assistance. Funding will also be available to establish new services in rural and remote locations.
Efficient and effective tools to minimise the administrative burden on service providers will be implemented ahead of 1 January 2005, including a new web-based payments system and help desk services.
A post implementation review will be conducted in 2005 and a full evaluation will be completed by October 2006.
The case based funding model reflects the findings of a national three-year trial and a major consultation process with providers, people with disabilities and their carers during 2002.
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A2. Disability Employment Assistance - Improved Viability of Business Services
- 1 July 2003 to 31 December 2005 - Improve viability of business services.
- 1 July 2003 and ongoing - More accurate customer income assessments.
Improving viability of business services
The Government will provide assistance of $25.4m over 3 years to maximise the number of Business Services that achieve quality assurance certification under the Disability Services Act 1986. The Government will create a viable, sustainable business service sector that provides access to employment opportunities, quality employment support and fair wages for people with disabilities.
The assistance will identify barriers to achieving quality assurance certification, work with 'at risk' Business Services on a range of strategies to support them through the adjustment process and make available a small pool of adjustment funds for identified targeted interventions. An e-marketing strategy will be developed to improve the market reach of Business Services, particularly those in rural Australia.
A safety net strategy will be developed in consultation with people with disabilities, their families, carers and service providers, to ensure that support continues for people who are assessed as having very low productive capacity.
More accurate income assessments
More accurate customer income assessments will be achieved with the introduction of a new voluntary reporting arrangement. Business Services employers, with their employees' consent, can report their employees' income information to Centrelink. The new arrangements will prevent debts and improve the accuracy of income support payments for these customers. Savings from this measure are $2.7 million over four years.
The measure to assist Business Services has been developed and shaped in consultation with the Business Services Review Implementation Group (BSRIG). The BSRIG was established early in 2001 to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Business Services Review. Its membership comprises Mr Nobby Clark (Chair), ACROD and consumer peak representatives, key business services representatives and FaCS staff.
The more accurate income assessments measure has the support of ACROD, Business Services and peak disability groups after a range of consultations and a successful trial.