Is this criminal? readers views please!


This story is the type of story I have read over the years and never given it much thought because I figured the workers were given a sense of worth and usefullness. BUT is it right because they have disabilites that they deserve to get paid next to nothing for the work that they put 100% of their abilities into…

And is not that all we ask of our every day workers?… I am having an educated guess here, but I am pretty certain there are those in the business community taking advantage of this little “Crack” in the system.

They see the cheap labour for their contract and think great…But who is offering these cheap labour contracts? Who makes money out of it?

Please tell me your experiences people.

Because this is happening in every suburb of every capital city in our country. Is it right, who cares? and why should it happen…I personally find underpaying the handicapped criminal… Please read on


TWO men with intellectual disabilities are taking on the Federal Government in court, hoping to win a pay rise for 20,000 disabled workers across Australia.

Michael Nojin, 44, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, impaired motor skills and an intellectual disability, has done office jobs such as removing staples, shredding documents and sweeping floors for $1.79 an hour.

Gordon Prior, 58, has a vision and intellectual impairment and has worked as a gardener for $3.47 an hour.

The men will go to the Federal Court in Melbourne next Monday, arguing that the wage assessment tool – created for disabled workers by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) – has failed disabled workers and kept their wages unfairly low.

If they are successful, they hope to improve wages for more than 20,000 people with a disability who work at Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) across the country.

Association of Employees with Disability (AED) Legal Centre solicitor Kairsty Wilson said the organisation had another 60 clients with a complaint about their wage assessment.

They dispute the Business Service Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT), introduced by FaHCSIA in 2004 to set the wages of workers with disabilities.

“The Government’s intended goal with BSWAT was to ensure that people with disabilities received a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” Ms Wilson said. “Our case is that BSWAT has failed in this function and has instead acted to keep the wages of these workers far below what the community would regard as reasonable.”

The AED Legal Centre says while Mr Prior was paid $3.47 an hour as a gardener under BSWAT, he received $10.33 an hour under a different assessment tool when he began a new job at a laundromat.

Mr Nojin was assessed as deserving $2.46 an hour for his work under BSWAT and, when he challenged this for being too low, a BSWAT reassessment reduced his wages to $1.79 an hour.

The AED says BSWAT has been the preferred wage assessment tool for a significant number of ADEs across Australia because it keeps pay lower than other assessment mechanisms.

It says disabled workers perform tasks such as packaging, recycling, gardening, production line work and mail sorting, for which they are paid an average gross hourly rate of $3.61.

A FaHCSIA spokeswoman said as the case was before the court, it was inappropriate to comment on issues subject to judicial proceedings.

7 thoughts on “Is this criminal? readers views please!

  1. If the wages are as low as are printed in your article, then I think that people with disabilities are being paid too little. They could be paid the minimum wage at least! What I do know of these people is that they usually have a strong work ethic and do work to the best of their abiliites all the time. I was told by a former employer who employed people with disabilities in his factory, that they are far easier to manage and he prefers them to “ordinary” workers. “Ordinary workers did the usual things to let him down, which included, turning up hungover, sickies when not sick, too many breaks, slacking off, being late. The disabled workers don’t do any of the above in his experience and see the job as a great opportunity, whereas the “ordinary” workers, do see as a low skilled dead end job. He informed me that the productiviity levels were actually higher. I am not sure of the wages they received though. I definitely think they need to be paid properly.


  2. I feel that we have a minimum wage of $13.74 in this country and all workers should be paid at or above this level. Failing to do so is a form of discrimination. Doing a job and being paid for your labour is an important cornerstone for building self respect. Obviously those with significant disabilities may not be able to deliver value to ADEs at this rate and so I would suggest that the government should make up the shortfall between the BSWAT assessment and the minimum wage. Yes it would cost the government money, but it is only for 20,000 workers; a drop in the ocean compared to what the government spends elsewhere. I’m willing to bet that BSWAT assessments would rise to reflect the real value of a persons labour if the government was covering this shortfall. I’m a bleeding heart leftie because I believe the government should look after these people, even if it costs the rest of us taxpayers a bit of coin.
    Dammit Robbo, it is criminal and dressing it up as anything else is bullshit.


  3. Some years back I saw a television segment about these type of workers. I recall being appalled at the hourly rate they were paid at that time (less than $2 per hour I recall), and wondered how this was allowed to be. Obviously nothing has changed and this is wrong. This country and it’s politicians bleat about child labour in the cocoa harvests in Ivory Coast etc, but this is no better. In fact I believe that it is gross exploitation in a country which can afford to pay a fair pay for a fair day’s work. These workers of course will always be better than able bodied workers in their work ethics – they are very happy and proud to have positions, and would never exploits those positions, unlike many able bodied workers.
    Packaging, recycling, gardening, production line work and mail sorting are all jobs which able bodied workers also perform. Bet they don’t and wouldn’t stand for $1.79 or even $3.61 an hour. A 15 year old can earn 5 times the latter amount in a pretty ordinary job.
    This is wrong and it is criminal and it must be changed. Meaningful work equates to meaningful pay, not exploitation of the disadvantaged.


  4. Playing Devil’s Advocate here.
    I do have to wonder what goes into their wage assessment.
    If housing, food, medical care and other expenses are paid for by the government and that is what drop their wages then I do think it is proper.
    I do not know how it is in other place but here many with disabilities live in housing paid for by the government. In some most cases that is paid direct to the landlord. In many cases that is needed since if that money was given to the disabled person it might not go to rent or they might get scammed by dishonest landlords.
    Here the disabled (on assistance) get a card, like a debit card, to pay for groceries and they can even possibly get additional funds in checks for spending money.
    IF it the same there and those amounts come out of the wages I see nothing wrong with that.
    If it is not that way then this is a shame in the least and yes, criminal.


  5. Having a close family member that was very senior with the Govt dept that was responsible for the welfare of disabled persons mainly intellectually impaired.She started with the dept in the early 70’s when the govt started building hostels etc to look after the welfare of many of these people and get them out of deplorable institutions where they were treated like vegetables.In a space of 10 years they had a lot of these people living in group homes with 24 hour supervision.Many of these people would work for nothing ,working gives them a sense of belonging.I think you will find that although they earn very little in there job ,they still receive a pension , accommodation etc.
    The sad thing is the huge number of parasites and thugs that prey on these people.
    Taxi drivers,door to door salesman and salesman in general.My family member spent most of her working hours including after hours sorting out these criminal arse holes that preyed on them.
    However it is unconscionable for any employer to profit from someone’s disability and this needs better policing.
    Robbo keep this up and you could end up on the Queens honour list
    There will never be enough people looking out for our most vulnerable !


    • Gidday Max, thanks for your comments, you are pretty spot on, in these folks love getting out and feeling some self worth.It is the vultures thay prey on them for cheap labour contracts etc. You would like to think their are people in and out of governemnet services etc that watch out for them.They would be conned without even knowing it I would say!


  6. Hello,
    I don’t comment often but this is one of the areas I’m interested in. This deplorable practice goes on in many countries. In the United States workers can be paid as little as .14 cents or .25 cents an hour if they have a disability. Our minimum wage is $7.25.

    Of course the agencies that do this claim their workers with disabilities do not work at the same level as the non-disabled worker. I have watched them and I just think that reason is ridiculous. There is a special place for employers that do this.
    Just my 2 cents!


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