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Public hearing 21: The experience of people with disability engaging with Disability Employment Services

The Royal Commission held Public hearing 21 from 23 to 25 February 2022.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and impacts, this hearing was conducted online. This hearing was not open to the public but was live streamed on our website.

In Public hearing 21, the Royal Commission examined the Disability Employment Services (DES) program and considered whether current laws, policies, funding and oversight cause or contribute to, or operate to prevent, violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability who participate in the DES program. Relevantly, it is noted that the Australian Government is currently designing a new disability employment support model for commencement from mid-2023.

This hearing focused on a case study about the conduct of a DES provider, Aimbig Employment (Aimbig), and the operation of a specific Aimbig employment program. The Royal Commission heard evidence from a DES participant, Aimbig, representatives of an advocacy organisation and an Australian Government representative among others.

In the context of the case study, this hearing examined:

  • choice and control of DES participants over employment opportunities

  • provision of services and support to DES participants to find a job and post-placement support during employment

  • how funding models may impact the conduct of DES providers

  • outcomes and expenditure of the DES program

  • complaint handling by DES providers

  • regulation, oversight and safeguard mechanisms, including the role of the Department of Social Services

  • any related matters.

Anyone who believed they had a direct and substantial interest in the subject matter of this hearing, as outlined in Practice Guideline 6, was able to make an application for leave to appear by 5.00pm on Monday 7 February 2022.

Following Public hearing 21, Public hearing 22 scheduled for 11-13 April 2022, will examine the experiences of people with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises.