By Shadow Minister for Disability Josh Willie

For hundreds of Tasmanians living with a disability, there is nothing more important than the dignity of work and the sense of purpose and stability that comes with having a job.

Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) are not-for-profit organisations that provide supported employment to people living with a disability.

Labor went to the March election with a policy to set a target to purchase goods and services from local ADEs.

Spending at least 2 per cent of the supplies and consumables budget would provide business opportunities and the chance to offer more training.

ADEs not only offer jobs but the chance for inclusion and the opportunity to contribute.
The sector began when the families of people with a disability established workshops.

Organisations like Oak-Possability started Oakdale Workshop in Tasmania in 1964 and others followed.

The focus was not only to see their kids in work but to battle and change community attitudes.

One of the many success stories is Dylan who, through his work experience at Oakdale Industries, has started his own business.

Dylan’s Mowing Service operates across Hobart.

Dylan says Oakdale has supported him into his dream job — acting as his own boss and working outdoors.

Tasmanians like Dylan should remind us of the United Nations principle that people living with a disability have the right to economic security and useful work.

Tasmania has a 55-year history of achieving just that.

But our government should not overlook that proud history and should not exclude these important organisations.

There are 11 ADEs owned and operated by Tasmanian not-for-profits and they employ about 500 Tasmanians.

ADEs enable workers with a disability to carry out jobs including packaging, assembly, production, recycling, screen printing, gardening as well as cleaning and food services.

They offer conditions similar to other employers and are valued by the employees.

ADEs are funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Social Services Department but state governments have a role to play.

Last year, National Disability Services signed an agreement with the Hodgman Government to streamline the process for government departments to procure the services of ADEs.

Despite the agreement, there are no formal policies to mandate government to use ADEs.

And, it was revealed, Tasmanian government agencies are not required to identify contracts awarded to ADEs.

I think most Tasmanians would agree that the Government should be procuring ADE services, as well as keeping meaningful data.

The Government should use its purchasing power to inject much-needed revenue into these organisations, which in turn create more jobs and investment.