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Covid-related lockdowns have frustrated us all. But for social support services - these have also had major impacts.

McCallum Disability Services (MDS) and Ballarat Regional Industries (BRI), two of Ballarat’s leading disability support organisations, have finalised merger negotiations to create the largest BuyAbility Social Enterprise in Western Victoria, delivering significant social and economic impact to their communities.

BuyAbility Social Enterprise the Synergy Group was recently featured in a very positive story on the ABC highlighting the fabulous work performed by its “extend family” of employees with disability and their support workers.

Let’s Talk Disability provide fun interactive workshops tailored for different businesses, councils and the corporate sector – the workshops are led by people with disability whose honest, no-nonsense approach will have you laughing while learning.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has been purchasing high quality desk plates, name badges and awards from Latrobe Valley Enterprises (LVE), whose workforce is mostly composed of people with disability.

Searching the BuyAbility website has been enhanced to make it easier to enable more specific searches. This helps customers and jobseekers connect with BuyAbility Social Enterprises with ease.

Over the past few decades, Australia’s domestic growth in the disability employment sector has taken great strides, but this sector, alongside the wider employment industry, faces challenging times.

National Disability Services’ (NDS) Industry Vision for Supported Employment, “Disability Employment Horizons, making our Vision a reality” was launched to 160 representatives of BuyAbility Social Enterprises.

Joe Smith is a multi-talented musician and has much contribute to the community, from a lead drummer during the ANZAC commemorations in Castlemaine with the Bendigo Scottish Marching Band. He has other interests outside of music, playing pool, bowls and ten-pin bowling. He volunteers with the local radio station and he also works. It’s a full and busy life he leads and he loves being an active part of the community in central Victoria. All of this has been made possible by Windarring, a community-based organisation committed to eliminating barriers to participation, inclusion and acceptance for people with disabilities in their local community.

The sector has blossomed since the supported employment model was first established, when work opportunities for people with disability were extremely limited. The sector currently provides a wide range of high quality employment opportunities for people with disability, allowing them to contribute to and connect with their local community. It is vital that people with disability have the option of accessing supported employment services, which serve to expand their professional and social networks.

Bedford’s Adelaide Property and Gardens (APG) has been providing extensive landscaping and horticulture services for over 30 years. APG offers varied and flexible services with a proven track record of outstanding service delivery. But most importantly it provides a supportive employment environment and provides meaningful work and life skills for the employees. This is a story about one of these employees, Chris, who has been a long term employee at APG Bedford and his experiences working for APG and as a work zone traffic controller. Chris is a leading hand and valued employee and is mentoring young employees from his life experiences.

Carol Robinson has worked in a variety of roles at Bedford Pooraka and Elizabeth for nearly a decade including, Reception, Packaging and Engineering. It wasn’t an easy journey for Carol; to say she has patience is an understatement, having applied for more than 150 jobs in open employment Carol says she “really struggled” before joining Bedford. Carol has converted her hobby to the proud owner of a business "House of Needleworks" with her own website promoting her crafty homewares...

There are many good examples of Social Procurement in Action....where Government is increasingly looking at purchasing from Social Benefit Suppliers, like Disability Enterprises....Nationally there are over 600 outlets providing more than 20,000 jobs for people with a disability. Read this article to get some ideas of your next purchase................including Spinal Cord Injury Australia recently entering into an innovative arrangement to provide a Wheelchair Book & Ride service, a centralised booking service for wheelchair accessible taxis in Sydney, making it easier to secure a ride in a suitable vehicle. All wheelchair accessible taxis are required to be part of the service and is funded by Transport for NSW.  https://transportnsw.info/travel-info/ways-to-get-around/taxi-hire-vehicle/wheelchair-book-ride

Government and corporate sector is putting a high priority focus on social procurement to generate great value in procurement decisions by utilising existing spend. To assist government and the corporate sector there a range of third party intermediary organisations to help identify social benefit suppliers, this includes Social Traders, Supply Nation, Givvable and you can visit the National Disability Services BuyAbility website to identify a Disability Enterprise to be in your supply chain. These decisions can make a difference in securing your next contract…… While Australian Federal, State and Local Government are making great inroads to embedding social procurement, it is worth looking at one of the longest standing social procurement programs in the world, AbilityOne in the USA, with government agencies annually purchase $3.3 billion worth of goods and services through the program and employs approximately 45,000 people who are blind or have significant disabilities. Please read NDS BuyAbility Social Procurement in Action for more information of how social procurement can provide you with a competitive edge by sourcing social benefit suppliers in your supply chain. You can also see the different Australian Government social procurement legislation and guides, as well as some social procurement in action action examples of Disability Enterprises delivering great services and goods.

With the ceasation NDS contract management functions of Buyability Procurement contracts, NDS is pleased to announce that Buyability has successfully transitioned the majority of contracts between the Disability Enterprise suppliers and the buyers directly.

Wise Employment's Social Enterprise, Clean Force Property Services is making a difference in people's lives. They have been fullfiling the day cleaning services contract in this building for over a year and it is providing many jobs for people that have been disgnosed with a disability or are disadvantaged. This contract alone provides up to 25 employees daily and a total of 52 individuals cover the required roster and hours could vary from 8 to 38 hours per week depending on availability and capability to work. Many of the employees have been out of workforce for some considerable time and this contract provides an opportunity for people to return to the workforce. Re-entering the workforce after a long absence can be daunting and for Clean Force employees, Rhonda and Nakoa, standing in front of the 33-story Paramatta Square building on their first day of work in 30 and 10 years respectively, was exactly how they felt.

A number of Disability Enterprises have been successful to provide sanitisation services in response to Covid. This has included 8 Disability Enterprises successfully registering on the Emergency Cleaning Stimulus Prequalification Scheme, as part of the Government's $250 million cleaning stimulus fund. NSW Government Departments and Agencies are encouraged to directly engage cleaning companies to provide both preventative and reactive cleans from this Scheme. https://buy.nsw.gov.au/schemes/emergency-cleaning-stimulus-scheme

This is a great article highlighting social procurement in action, where government and the disability sector are working together to provide work opportunities for people with disability. Civic Disability Services, along with Achieve Australia and in partnership with National Disability Services (NDS) BuyAbility procurement service, helped prepare and set up the NSW Government's new Parramatta Government Building, ensuring the premises are ready to go before opening. https://www.civic.org.au/accessible-workforce-contributing-to-parramattas-re-development/

HELP Enterprises, a leading Queensland based not-for-profit social enterprise supporting people with disability, was recently selected as the winner of the Supported Employment Excellence Award.

After a hotly contested national selection process, which included a playoff between the state and territory winners, Rhonda Morrow was voted the Grand Champion in the second annual BuyAbility Above and Beyond Awards. Rhonda is a supported employee at Summerland House Farm in Alstonville, NSW.

Start your career in supported employment with one of South Australia’s leading Disability Enterprises.

Start the New Year with a new career! Minda in South Australia is bursting at the seams with employment opportunities for people with disability.

The third-party verified BuyAbility Impact Tool 2.0 has been released, featuring significant enhancements.

The BuyAbility Procurement initiative promotes employment opportunities for people with disability through the procurement of government and private sector contracts.

Early this month, Disability Enterprises across Australia opened their doors for BuyAbility’s Our Work in Action week to showcase what supported employment has to offer.

The week 30 October - 5 November 2017, Disability Enterprises across Australia are hosting events so you can come and see their work in action and support employment for people with disability.

BuyAbility member Wallara Logistics has seen business grow 400 per cent since setting up a 3PL (third-party logistics) arm seven years ago, reports Australasian Transport News.

The BuyAbility Campaign has launched a grass roots, social media campaign to demonstrate the importance of Disability Enterprises in providing meaningful employment for people with disability.

On the 5th September 2017 the BuyAbility team is excited to be taking a positive message about supported employment to Parliament House.

Disability Services Australia have had a long association with Cantarella, packing many of their coffee products and marketing packs for more than 15 years.

You're invited to our flagship networking event, the Bedford Big BBQ, proudly sponsored by NAB. Friday 10th February 2017, 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

This month BuyAbility network member Barkuma will celebrate 50 years of operation. Well known in South Australia as a leading disability service provider, Barkuma support people with disability...

ENTRIES are now open for the third Trash to Art competition. The event, run by the Christie Centre, encourages people to be creative by using discarded and salvaged materials.

Hydrowood and Oakdale Industries are delighted to announce a partnership to deliver unique flooring products to the national market.

Delando Corporation was a State Finalist for the NSW Training Awards for 2016 as a Medium Employer and finished in the top 3 of the state.

Scores of businesses employing people with a disability could be forced to close and thousands could lose their jobs as a result of a legal ruling which found some workers had been discriminated against, employers say.

(Speech given on 7 September 2012) Employment of people with disability and particularly Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) are the favourite part of my portfolio.

The BuyAbility Social Impact Measurement Tool went live late November 2016, with many pledged members excited to start using this innovative tool.

KBH ENTERPRISES has been awarded with a Westpac Foundation Community Grant worth $10,000 in support of their outstanding efforts improving the lives of the disabled.

This is a message from the Ability Works Australia Employee Representative Committee: It would be very hard to find work and hold that job if we could not continue to work at Ability Works.

A TOOWOOMBA project is building pathways to work for people with disabilities - using timber work construction. KBH Enterprises School 2 Work program teaches students from high schools across the region, including Clifford

TOOWOOMBA South MP David Janetzki has used his maiden speech in parliament this week to address the challenges the electorate faces.

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