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Report - Public hearing 21 - The experience of people with disability engaging with Disability Employment Services: Mzia case study

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Report on Public hearing 21 – the experiences of people with disability engaging with Disability Employment Services: Mzia case study


The Disability Royal Commission held Public hearing 21 in February 2022. We have written a report about this hearing. This video is a summary of the report.

The hearing looked at the Disability Employment Services (DES) program. The purpose of DES is to help people with disability find a job and stay in work.

The hearing examined the experiences of Mzia (not her real name). Mzia was diagnosed with ADHD in her 30s.

Mzia has worked since she was around 15 years old. She has mainly worked casually and hasn’t had a permanent job in about 25 years.

The organisation Aimbig is a DES provider. Aimbig operated a coffee shop which was a work place where people with disability learn to make coffee and operate a café.

In 2019 Mzia became a client of Aimbig. Mzia was employed at the coffee shop from June 2019 until April 2020.

Mzia had many negative experiences in the coffee shop program. She had problems in the job and was not supported properly. This seriously impacted her mental health and her financial situation.

Findings and recommendations

The report includes several findings from the hearing. Some of these are:

  • AimBig failed to provide appropriate support to Mzia after she got a placement in the coffee shop program.  She requested feedback about how she was performing, and clarity on her role and responsibilities. However Aimbig did not provide her with this support, even though it was their responsibility to do so under the rules of the DES program.

  • There was conflict between Aimbig’s dual roles as Mzia’s DES provider and her employer in delivering the coffee shop program. As her DES provider, AimBig had a responsibility to support Mzia during her employment, including providing advice to address problems with her employer – who was also AimBig.

  • Aimbig’s processes on making complaints or resolving issues were not made clear to Mzia.

The report also makes three recommendations. These are:

  • That the Director of AimBig should apologise to Mzia. She should acknowledge how and why AimBig failed Mzia, and the impact of those failures on Mzia.

  • Aimbig should make appropriate redress to Mzia for the impact on her health, wellbeing and to her future employment prospects. Examples of redress might be providing money or counselling.

  • The company that owns Aimbig (Arriba) should review its employment contracts to make sure they refer to the correct laws and awards. The contracts should be written in plain English and be easy to understand.

More information

To read the full research report, visit our website. Go to the ‘Policy and research’ section and click on ‘Research program’.