Economic loss acknowledged but discrimination continues

15 January 2014

Economic loss acknowledged but discrimination continues
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) welcomes the recognition by the Commonwealth that people with intellectual disability who have been paid according to the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) have experienced economic loss.

Today the Assistant Minister for Social Services announced a scheme to provide an additional payment in certain circumstances to eligible supported employees with intellectual disability whose wages were assessed and paid using the BSWAT.

This announcement follows last year’s decision of the full Federal Court in Nojin and Prior v The Commonwealth that the BSWAT model was discriminatory to people with disability, specifically people with intellectual disability. An application by the Commonwealth to exempt the BSWAT from the obligations within the Disability Discrimination Act is currently before the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Full details of the payment scheme are not yet available.

Matthew Bowden, Co-Chief Executive Officer of PWDA says “information released by the Commonwealth today states that workers seeking legal redress for the discrimination they experienced and their consequent loss of earnings will be exempt from inclusion in the scheme.”

“Workers with disability are entitled to the same employment conditions and protections as any other workers in Australia, including the right to seek a remedy when they have been discriminated against and their rights violated,” said Mr Bowden. “This is the action that Mr Nojin and Mr Prior took in taking their experiences of workplace discrimination to court. The outcome of their action provided the unprecedented opportunity to correct one for the employment practices that has unlawfully and systematically discriminated against people with disability for many years.”

“While today’s announcement is a welcome recognition of the detrimental impact of the BSWAT wage assessment tool on the lives of people with intellectual disability, the scheme does not address the discriminatory impact of the continued use of the BSWAT in ADEs. Broad reform of this sector is urgently required to end use of the BSWAT, transition to the Supported Wage System, and to provide genuine employment support to people with disability to move in to open employment.”

“PWDA looks forward to a thorough consultation process on the need for these reforms, as well as on the details of the scheme. Any engagement process must include workers with disability in ADE’s and their representative organisations.”

MEDIA: Samantha French, telephone 0409 029 730
or email

Phone: 02 9370 3100 Toll Free: 1800 422 015 Email:

People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWDA) is a national disability rights and advocacy, non-profit, non-government organisation. We have a cross-disability focus, representing the interests of people with all kinds of disability and our membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability.
Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, citizenship, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are respected and celebrated.