The Future of Supported Employment

1st November, 2022

Barkuma is actively taking part in discussions and forums regarding the future of supported employment. A Consensus Statement, which was provided to Minister Rishworth and the recent Disability Employment Round table, was signed by Barkuma and another 37 providers representing 8,728 employees.

Over 50 years ago, Barkuma created a commercial enterprise with the objective to offer choice, meaningful employment, skill development and connection. Over this time the enterprise has listened, learned and changed practices and models of service to better represent our employees needs and goals.

Barkuma has invested in properties, equipment, training and people to cater for an all-abilities workplace. We create tailored roles with necessary supports so that everyone can achieve their aspiration of employment. Some employees choose a long career with us, where we celebrate their 30, 35, and 40 years of service, while others take the opportunity to build skills and experience before being supported to move into open employment or another enterprise.

Our supportive staffing structures have evolved to provide certified training, development opportunities, and positive work cultures where friendships flourish. This year, Barkuma recognised an opportunity to include a new career pathway for employees in our commercial enterprise – Peer Supervisors. Chosen for their leadership potential, teamwork skills and positive attitude, the 15 successful candidates have begun a training program which includes First Aid Training, Fire Warden training, Leadership Training with Forklift Training available as an optional certificate. The Peer Supervisors work alongside their peers and provide mentoring and coaching to help build confidence and skills in the workplace.

Barkuma’s small business units provide opportunities for employees to explore their passion whether it be gardening, cleaning or hospitality. Delivering a similar experience to mainstream employers, in the scale of operations and kinds of work on offer.

Barkuma’s commercial enterprise is evolving, and we are committed to actively working with our employees to ensure they understand their employment options and support them to explore and exercise their choice.  Now is the time for further evolution and revolution in exceeding the employment needs and aspirations of people with disability.

In supporting the Consensus Statement, Barkuma commits to:

  1. Increase the voice of our employees and their choices – not the choices others may make for or about them.
    We are doing this through Independently facilitated Client Voice feedback groups, dedicated Client Engagement roles, and Peer Supervisor positions
  2. Champion many career choices for our employees, both within our commercial enterprise and in mainstream roles. Barkuma’s commercial enterprise offers a dual service with our Disability Employment Service (DES) to showcase a range of employment options
  3. Improve what we do as an employer and as a sector and at the policy level, to better support people living with a disability to achieve their employment goals and aspirations.

Barkuma continues to advocate for employment opportunities and rights in response to entrenched discrimination against people with a disability who continue to be excluded from employment today.