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Thursday, 28 August 2014

BSWAT Senate hearing and court case: recent progress and commentary

Progress on the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) debate is gaining more media attention as Senate hearings approach:

Back pay class action by 10,000 workers with disability will continue
Helen Davidson, The Guardian, 26th August 2014
A class action against the government over back pay allegedly owed to about 10,000 workers with an intellectual disability will continue, regardless of whether the Senate passes a bill establishing a repayment scheme, because lawyers representing the employees claim it will only pay around half of what’s owed.

The Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (Bswat), assessed wages for around half of the employees working in government supported Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) – previously known as sheltered workshops ...

Kicking an own goal for team Australia
Graeme Innes, Howzat, 26th August 2014
Mitch Fifield is one of the best ministers in the Abbot government- you would have to be to have piloted the National Disability Insurance Scheme unscathed through the tsunami of the recent federal budget. But he has been badly advised if he blames the situation of employees with disabilities in sheltered workshops or Australian Disability Enterprises on the Australian Human Rights Commission. Let me tell you the real story ...
First published in The Australian. This is the unedited version.

Disability advocates call on Senate to stop Bill stripping wages from workers with intellectual disability
People with Disability Australia (media Release), 25th August 2014
Today, four national peak disability groups will join with the AED Legal Centre and more than 30 community disability organisations to launch an open letter calling on politicians from all parties to vote against a bill to extinguish the legal rights of up to 10,500 Australian workers with intellectual disability. Some of these workers earn less than $1 an hour ...
Govt Puts Funds Towards Disability Wage Arrangements
Probono Australia News, 25th August 2014
The Federal Government has announced $173 million to help the supported employment sector work towards new wage arrangements for disability employees currently working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs). This follows the suspension of the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) in December 2012.

The Government says funding will be used in part to develop and implement a new productivity-based wage tool (including new assessments) for use across the supported employment sector. However the announcement comes as disability peak body People with Disability Australia, in partnership with national peak disability and advocacy organisations, have called on Parliament to reject the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payment Scheme Bill 2014 ...

Minister Fifield must reward genuine effort not failureInclusion Australia (formerly National Council on Intellectual Disability), 22nd August 2014
The announcement by Minister Fifield of an additional $173 million to support employees get fair wages in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) is welcomed as a step forward by Inclusion Australia.The announcement, however, does not resolve serious concerns about the treatment of employees with intellectual disability, nor the ongoing viability of ADEs ...
Mitch Fifield, The Australian, 21st August 2014
Few would deny that the Australian Human Rights Commission is comprised of well-meaning advocates who have the best of intentions discharging their duties ...
Disability wages system to get $173m
Michelle Webster, Illawarra Mercury, 21st August 2014
A plan by the federal government to create a national wage system for employees with disabilities should be made in association with the Fair Work Commission, Greenacres chief executive Chris Christodoulou says ...

What's fair pay for a fair day's work for the intellectually disabled?
Louise Milligan, 7.30 (ABC), 21st August 2014 (Video 8m 15s, and transcript)
Workers with intellectual disabilities from what used to be known as 'sheltered workshops' are seeking back pay after the Federal Court ruled that paying them a fraction of the minimum wage was discriminatory and they are fighting their case despite a Government offer of half what they're claiming in return for dropping their case.

  • Australian Disability Enterprises are sharing their views through the website AEDs Work for Me

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