BuyAbility Social Enterprises employ people in a supported working environment. Their 20,000 employees are Australians with disability who are keen to earn, learn and grow by participating in the workforce like other members of the community. These enthusiastic and committed employees have access to work in a diverse range of roles – from gardeners to store people, screen printers, recyclers and cooks.
Employees are supported to work, develop new skills and participate in their communities. Many employees find the training provided in these enterprises supports them to transition to open employment. BuyAbility Social Enterprises are nonprofit organisations that provide goods and services and invest their profits into furthering outcomes for their employees with disability.
Supported employees receive funding through their NDIS plan (known as “supports in employment”) for day-to-day assistance in the workplace to maintain their employment. This funding can be used by BuyAbility Social Enterprises to support employment of NDIS participants in a wider range of employment options and settings than the traditional supported employment model.
Currently, employees’ wages are calculated through the use of a wage assessment tool. These tools are identified the Supported Employment Service (SES) Award 2010. The Fair Work Commission is currently engaged in a review of the SES Award, including a proposed new wages structure for supported employees, which has recently been trialed in a number of BuyAbility Social Enterprises.
There is ongoing public discussion about supported employee wage assessment and the level of government contributions required to ensure fair wages for people with disability and the viability of BuyAbility Social Enterprises.
Most supported employees receive a Disability Support Pension (DSP) as well as their wage. Some employees may also receive additional benefits, such as mobility allowance, depending on their disability.
People with disability have the right to lead normal lives like others in the community. Supported employment allows people with disability to participate in work and make meaningful contributions to the workforce like their families and neighbours.
Many people with disability also enjoy the social interaction of the workplace. Research and case studies show that supported employment can lead to beneficial health and wellbeing outcomes for people with disability.
BuyAbility Social Enterprises offer a diverse range of roles which provide opportunities to develop new skills and to form professional networks. Some employees are also able to build on the skills and networks they develop through supported employment to form lasting non-supported careers in open employment.
Each year, supported employment saves taxpayers and government billions of dollars. BuyAbility Social Enterprises make significant social and economic contributions to their local communities.
BuyAbility Social Enterprises reduce the need for full-time support workers and day programs. They also provide family members and other carers with time outside of caring duties, including participating in the labour force.
A study conducted by National Disability Services estimated that over 200,000 people with disability want to work and have the capacity to do so if provided with the right support. Enhancing access to supported employment will result in more employment opportunities for people with disability and allow them to lead a normal life while saving taxpayers and the government billions of dollars. BuyAbility has developed a social and economic measurement tool, the BuyAbility Tool that measures this beneficial impact to Australian society.
Enhancing the delivery of supported employment can create more work opportunities for people with disability and ensure the sustainability of the National Disability Insrance Scheme. As the disability policy landscape develops, it is paramount that people with disability retain the option of working in supported employment as well as a wide range of other employment options increasingly provided by BuyAbility Social Enterprises.