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Outstanding employers of people with disabilities

Media Release for the State Services Commission

Awards for outstanding employers of people with disabilities

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Otago Polytechnic are the joint winners of the State Services Commission’s Mainstream Employer of the Year Award for 2001. Both organisations have exceeded the requirements for equitable, supportive employment of people with disabilities in the State sector.

The State Services Commissioner, Michael Wintringham, presented the awards today at a celebration which also marked a quarter century of employment support by the State Services Commission to people with significant disabilities.

The awards are presented each year in recognition of employers who have gone the extra mile to provide employment, training and career development opportunities for people with disabilities participating in the Mainstream Programme.

In presenting this year’s awards, Mr Wintringham said the provision of the Mainstream Programme is a tangible way in which the State sector is helping to remove employment barriers to participation by people with disabilities.

“Mainstream is a small, but hugely successful employment programme, with over 60% of those completing placements during the past three years, gaining long term meaningful employment.”

“It is successful because it models what can be achieved by people with the most significant disabilities and employment barriers, when the human and financial resources are provided.”

“This includes direct involvement in service provision by people with disabilities themselves and employers who can think outside the square and see what is possible, with creativity and planning,” Mr Wintringham said.

Merit awards were also presented to the Teacher Registration Board, Taranaki District Health Board, Waikato Institute of Technology and the Health Valley District Health Board at the ceremony today.



Mainstream Supported Employment Programme for people with disabilities
134 people on the programme
91 placements made for the year ended 30 June 2001

The State Services Commission Mainstream Programme facilitates employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities within selected State sector organisations.

Mainstream is a Supported Employment Programme. This means that people with significant disabilities are not expected to be "job ready" when they are placed into employment. Instead they are trained on the job and also have access to extra funding for training from the Mainstream Programme. Pay is comparable to the pay of others performing similar duties. Knowledge and skills are built up over time with the support and good will of co-workers.

Mainstream works in collaboration with a variety of placement agencies for people with disabilities to negotiate the creation of positions which are subsidised for two years.

State sector employers eligible for Mainstream placements are paid a 100% salary subsidy for the first year of employment. This subsidy decreases to 50% in the second year of Mainstream Programme support. After two years, it is expected that Mainstream participants will have gained the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to compete for employment on the open job market. During the last three years, between 55% and 65% of all people completing Mainstream placements have gained long term employment, either with their original employing department or with another employer.

There are over 130 people working in various State sector organisations under the Mainstream Programme throughout New Zealand. Not all of these people live and work in large cities. Mainstream Programme participants work in areas such as Hokitika, Punakaiki, Blenheim, Thames and Kaikohe. Although some of the created positions gained through the Mainstream Programme are basic clerical positions, a growing proportion are in such diverse areas as tertiary education tutoring, kitchen work, case management, project management, technical support and veterinary work.

The Mainstream Programme features:
- an advice and referral service for employers and programme participants;
- follow-up support for employers and programme participants;
- induction training for co-workers;
- a 100% subsidy of salary for the first 12 months of employment;
- a 50% subsidy of salary for the second year of employment;
- access to funding for external training for both the Mainstream participant and his/her direct supervisor.

People with disabilities employed under this programme gain access to experience of the world of work, training, ongoing advice and support, and good prospects for employment at the end of the placement.

Mainstream participants are paid at the usual rate for the job. A graduated subsidy is paid to Government agencies at 100% of full gross salary for the first year of the Mainstream participant's employment and 50% for the second and final year of assistance.


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