DES reforms – where are we at and where are we going?

Over 100 DES providers support more than 310,000 participants in building capacity and confidence, strengthening aspirations and working through challenges and barriers. They also assist participants with training, job searches, managing setbacks and maintaining belief while working with employers.

In March 2021, DSS established the DES Taskforce to identify ways to improve employment supports for people with disability in the DES program. Since then, the DES reference group has undertaken the majority of this work.

Key outcomes of this process have included a public consultation paper on what the new disability employment support model should look like. Consultation for the paper sought feedback on how the government could achieve meaningful change to help more people with disability prepare for work, get work, keep working and progress in their careers. DSS engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to run workshops with people with disability and carers to design the new model.

Other activities undertaken have included the development of Australia’s Disability Strategy, the Disability Employment Strategy and the Disability Royal Commission public hearings.

The objective of the Taskforce has been to reform DES, to improve employment outcomes for people with disability and to better meet the needs of DES participants and employers.

But where are we now in the process?

The DES reference group has made a range of recommendations, which will be finalised between May and June 2022. DSS is expected to release a summary of findings from the public consultation paper.

In this session, the extent of the DES reform process will be revealed, exploring the short, medium and long-term impacts of the DES program and the New Disability Employment Support Model.


Rick Kane CEO, Disability Employment Australia

Rick Kane has 25 years of experience in disability employment — 15 years with the peak body, Disability Employment Australia (DEA) as a board member and CEO.

Rick began working in disability employment as an employment consultant. Since then, he has managed a disability employment organisation and worked as a Policy Advisor for ten years.

DEA represents, supports and resources disability employment services across the country. The organisation works with government and policy development as it relates to increasing employment outcomes for people with disability in Australia. This includes engaging international perspectives.