Wage Justice Campaign

Currently, there are over 20,000 people with disability in Australia who are employed by Australian Disabilty Enterprises (ADE) previously called “Sheltered Workshops”.  

The majority of these people do not receive equal pay for work of equal value, or have access to the same industrial protections as workers without disability doing the same job at the same statutory pay grade (‘Award’). This is because they are subject to the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) that unfairly discounts their wages. The BSWAT mainly affects employees with intellectual disability who make up over 75% of the ADE workforce.

Campaign updates

October 2015 – Campaign statement from People with Disability Australia

October 2015 – Conciliation statement from the Fair Work Commission Word Document or PDF

Greens Deputy Leader and Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt MP Parliamentary Speech on the the BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill 2014 and on his website.

The rights of these employees to the same employment terms and conditions as employees without disability continues to be unrealised for thousands of workers with disability across Australia.


July 2015 – AAT ruling means that ADEs must move forward to meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) | Wage Justice Campaign Update

May 2015 – Most vulnerable workers caught in back-pay standoff | Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece

May 2015 – Outrageous decision on disability wages | Joint media release

February 2015 – Update on Variation of Supported Employment Services Award

November 2014 – National Peak Disability and Advocacy Organisations applaud Senate Vote to Block BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill 2014

November 2014 – Disabled workers to benefit after Senate votes against unfair payment scheme Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

August 2014 – Joint Media Release: Disability advocates call on Senate to stop Bill stripping wages from workers with intellectual disability

August 2014 – Senate Community Affairs Committee tabled in Parliament the Report on the BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill

August 2014 – Minister Fifield must reward genuine effort not failure, Inclusion Australia

August 2014 – Real Businesses Pay Real Wages Inclusion Australia

July 2014 – Workers with intellectual disabilities class action Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and AED Legal Centre

June 2014 – Government’s payment plan for disabled workers ‘another attack’ on the most vulnerable Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

June 2014 – The Commonwealth Government proposes the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Bill 2014

April 2014 – Joint media statement on behalf of National peak disability and advocacy groups

April 2014 – Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) grants the Commonwealth and all the Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) who use the BSWAT a temporary exemption to allow the payment of wages to ADE employees, based on assessments already conducted with the BSWAT, for a period of 12 months, subject to conditions.

Feb 2014 – Lawyers win court order to prevent disabled workers being misled about legal rights Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Feb 2014 – The Fair Work Commission held a Directions Hearing on 14 February 2014 for the joint application by United Voice and the Health Services Union (HSU) to vary the Supported Employment Services Award (2010).

Feb 2014 – Show Your Support – Wage Justice for Workers with Disability PWDA

Jan 2014 – Maurice Blackburn Lawyers win temporary reprieve on disabled workers court action

Jan 2014 – Maurice Blackburn Lawyers lodge an application for court orders to prevent the Federal Government from misleading intellectually disabled employees into signing away their legal rights

Jan 2014 – PWDA Media Release: Economic loss acknowledged but discrimination continues

Jan 2014 – Australian Government announced intention to establish a payment scheme for supported employees with intellectual disability in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) who previously had their wages assessed under the Business Service Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT)

Dec 2013 – Maurice Blackburn Lawyers lodge a class action discrimination claim seeking to recover all underpayments for the 10,000 affected workers

Sep 2013 – The Australian government made an application to the Australian Human Rights Commission to grant an exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act for a period of 3 years, and permit ADEs to continue to assess and pay wages using the BSWAT.

To read the government’s Exemption Application seehttps://www.humanrights.gov.au/department-social-services-dss

May 2013 – High Court of Australia dismisses the Commonwealth’s application to appeal the Federal Court Decision

Dec 2012 – Appeal to the full court of the Federal Court upheld – Nojin v Commonwealth of Australia [2012] FCAFC 192

Federal Court of Australia ruled that the Commonwealth unlawfully discriminated against Mr Nojin and Mr Prior under Section 6 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 (Cth) by assessing their wages using the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT)

Notice of application for temporary exemption and Submissions

Sept 2011 – Federal Court rules Prior and Nogin failed to establish they had been discriminated against ABC

Apr 2011 – Federal Court (Melbourne) hears Nojin and Prior vs Commonwealth of Australia. [2011] FCA 1066

In the media

Publications, Submissions and Reports

Further reading