Results matter, not location

January 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Beneficiary advocates are angry that an Australian company has emerged as the big winner in an experiment that will pay contractors up to $12,000 to help a sole parent or a person with mental health issues into paid work.

How terrible. A company wins a contract to help people into work.

Perth-company Advanced Personnel Management (APM) has won pilot contracts for people with mental health conditions in Auckland, Waikato, Christchurch and Southland, and for sole parents in the Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Nelson and Canterbury – more than any local agency in the Work and Income tender.

So why is this?

APM’s website describes the company as “the largest private sector provider of Australian Government funded vocational rehabilitation services and disability employment services”. It says New Zealand operations started in 2012 with vocational rehabilitation contracts with the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

Because they already have significant experience in this area.

Beneficiary Advocacy Federation co-ordinator Kay Brereton said the contracts should have gone to more local agencies such as the West Auckland Living Skills Homes (Walsh Trust), which won one of the mental health contracts, and the Kawerau Job Centre, which won a sole-parent contract.

So they also won contracts, but the whinge is that this Australian company won some also. I’m in favour of having lots of companies win contracts, and then judge them on results.

Strive Community Trust chief executive Sharon Wilson-Davis said she did not bid for the contracts and allowed an existing sole-parent contract to end late last year because she felt it would be impossible to achieve the work placements required to earn fees under the new pilots.

“A lot of these people certainly want to work but sometimes you are better off to get them into further training,” she said.

“Otherwise if you push them into these low-paying jobs, then when those jobs go they are back in the same place.”

Glad they are not one of the companies, with an attitude that it is better to remain out of work entirely, than take up a low paying job which might not last forever.

After the outward signs of success collapsed around her, Misty Leong was comforted by her teenage son.

When her husband left, she had to give up her successful real estate business to look after her daughter who was just 2, her son, and her own elderly mother.

It was 2009, in the early panic of the global financial crisis, and no one was buying houses anyway. Ms Leong went bankrupt. Her $1.8 million property was lost.

“I lost my health, money, property, everything,” she says. “But my son, he says: ‘Mum, you are still strong.”‘

Born in China 46 years ago and brought up in Macau, Ms Leong came to New Zealand in 1989. She worked as a waitress, then in a factory, but quickly opened her own takeaway bar in Forrest Hill on Auckland’s North Shore.

Later she and her husband and a partner started a gardening and home service business, and from there Ms Leong moved into real estate with Century 21 in 2002.

When it all collapsed, she was bereft. “I had no food, no income, no anything. My husband left me with all the business debts and didn’t help me with the children at all,” she says.

Sounds an awful situation. To go from being a business owner with significant assets to bankrupt would be a terrible blow.

She got the domestic purposes benefit. She never stopped looking for a job but had no luck.

But then …

Her break came when Work and Income referred her in February last year to In-Work NZ, the country’s biggest private contractor of welfare-to-work programmes. Within two months she landed a checkout job at Devonport’s New World supermarket. It was only 16 hours a week at first, but in July her hours increased to 22 and the in-work tax credit of an extra $60 a week, paid to single adults working at least 20 hours a week or couples working 30 hours between them, allowed her to move off the benefit.

Still a long way from where she was, but what a great work ethic to not turn your nose up at working in a supermarket.

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16 Responses to “Results matter, not location”

  1. Yoza (1,927 comments) says:

    Why pay a foreign company $12,000 when it would be cheaper to offer the job-seeker a $100 a week top-up of their pay for their first 2 years in employment?

    [DPF: Because without the company helping them, they wouldn’t get a job at all. You’re against paying organisations to help those with mental health issues find employment? How caring]

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  2. MH (830 comments) says:

    A super market opened in New Lynn, Auckland relatively recently,they had applicants queuing up,its not so much as turning one’s nose up,as finding work. They certainly don’t have to advertise and I’m sure the same for the various big stores that have opened up even in smallish towns like Katikati etc. Goodby small local stores in the interim until they attempt to specialise.

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  3. hj (7,182 comments) says:

    Ive always been abit wary of the “mentally ill people are just like you or me” mantra. Tell that to the flatmate who had his head hacked off?

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  4. david (2,194 comments) says:

    Anyone know if the Aussie outfit is the one owned by Kevin Rudd’s wife? I seem to recall that she became a millionaire on the back of Government sponsored work-placement schemes under the Labor Government

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  5. Chris2 (775 comments) says:

    DPF, your commentary overlooks that “beneficary advocate groups” like the ones Ms Brereton represents, have a vested interest in there being a pool of long-term unemployed.

    That’s how she earns her own living – from going to Government departments and charitable organisations for funding and handouts and saying “look how many unemployed there are”. If there were fewer unemployed then she herself would be unemployed and have to find work herself.

    She sees this Australian outfit as a business competitor, stealing “her” clients.

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  6. gazzmaniac (2,306 comments) says:

    david @ 11:07
    It says in the article that APM is Perth based. Given that the Rudd family live in Brisbane, I think it is unlikely.

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  7. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    Anyone know if the Aussie outfit is the one owned by Kevin Rudd’s wife?

    Wouldn’t matter if it was. The only interesting thing would be the fact that NZ would benefit from the skills an Australian government paid to develop.

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  8. Viking2 (11,684 comments) says:

    oh yeah, know someone who has been this process with ACC.
    Usual collection of educated idiots who request reports, ignore basics and simply do not listen. Hopeless would be the word.
    Nothing changes except the costs.

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  9. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    This is why anecdotes dont help; perhaps your friend is a dropkick Viking2.

    I’m just saying…

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  10. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    This sounds good.

    It reminds me of this excellent article – “what I learned in the poverty war” –
    http://www.city-journal.org/2012/22_4_poverty.html

    Quote – “I’ve become fed up with the useless policies that I once supported, and I’m trying to change the strategy of our bogged-down army.

    We know for certain that **income transfers**, the preferred tactic of generations of liberals, have utterly failed to end poverty. My firsthand experience with welfare clients has shown me why: being on the dole encourages dependency. Working at a real job, by contrast, is the surest way for a person to climb out of poverty. Accordingly, the surest way for the government to fight poverty is to eliminate cash assistance almost entirely and offer jobs instead.”

    Jobs ARE out there but Kiwis refuse to take them. This is why farmers and orchardists have to bring in people from the Philippines and Fiji to do work – because slack-arse locals can’t be bothered.

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  11. Lindsay (138 comments) says:

    ‘Strive Community Trust chief executive Sharon Wilson-Davis said she did not bid for the contracts and allowed an existing sole-parent contract to end late last year because she felt it would be impossible to achieve the work placements required to earn fees under the new pilots.

    “A lot of these people certainly want to work but sometimes you are better off to get them into further training,” she said.

    “Otherwise if you push them into these low-paying jobs, then when those jobs go they are back in the same place.” ‘

    No, they are not in the same place. They have some work experience and history. With so many sole parents becoming benefit dependent before they have either, even a low-paying job is an important start. It’s a cv.

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  12. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    LOL……this is exactly what I said over the last couple of months would happen and that the Tax Payers Union will have a field day finding the waste:

    A women runs a successful reale state firm….ends up on the DPB……and the country’s biggest private contractor gets paid money from the public purse to get her a job………………..at a fucken supermarket!!!!!!!

    Kevin Rudd’s wife is worth $200 million from having the same type of businesss – she has a contract with the UK government doing exactly the same thing………….gets people who are unemployed on her books…….and when the economy improves she then gets a payment fron the taxpayer for ……wait for it……’finding’….. people work……… —-It’s a fucken scam!

    The only people who should recieve this type of assistance are the mentally handicaped or people who have suffered from accidents where their work has to change due to loss of limbs ect. No one would have a problem with these people being helped. I don’t.

    But a divorced business women…. who ends up in a supermarket……is a successful publicly funded scheme?………no it fucken isn’t!!!!

    The tax payers union should clean this bullshit up. :cool:

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  13. scrubone (3,097 comments) says:

    So if someone is a “divorced business women” then by definition they will never have problems finding work.

    Huh.

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  14. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    “….So if someone is a “divorced business women” then by definition they will never have problems finding work…..Huh….’

    No.

    I’m saying that a business women can find a supermarket job without the aid of a publicly funded business doing it for her – school kids do it all the time!

    “…….Perth-company Advanced Personnel Management (APM) has won pilot contracts for people with mental health conditions in Auckland ect……and for sole parents in the Bay of Plenty ect…….”

    She is a sole parent – not someone who has a mental illness.

    And while we are at it – WTF are mental health ‘conditions’ ? Sadness? Worry? Boredom? Loss of motivation? C’mon Scrubone………they’re just ‘over concerns’ by the likes of the Health Dept & Women’s Ministry ect ect. —– They’re really just excuses not to work!

    It’s a total waste of taxpayers money in helping people who are more than capable of getting a supermarket job by themselves.

    As I said:

    The tax payers union should clean this bullshit up. :cool:

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  15. lolitasbrother (774 comments) says:

    yeah right .
    employable is employable and unemployable is unemployable,
    send $NZ12,000

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  16. HC (154 comments) says:

    This is all an “experiment”, as Simon Collins rightly states in his article in the NZ Herald. I dare to add, that this is a risky “experiment”. While the efforts to help sole parents into work may prove to bear less risks, I am truly concerned about getting mentally ill and disabled into jobs, especially this way, by paying high reward fees for results to outsourced, private providers, who will have the gain or potential “profit” on their mind, before the well-being of the client.

    There is actually a mention of one potential tender bidder not having bothered, as they thought it was not going to work for them. And the whole process that MSD and WINZ have followed even under the last Labour government, where they hired controversial Dr David Bratt, raises many questions. It is partly based on the failed benefit reforms in the UK, but Bennett and MSD say, they learned from their mistakes and are not repeating them. I see this a bit differently. Much of the idea of work being “beneficial” for sick and disabled comes from a controversial professor Mansel Aylward’s supposed “research”, and his selective interpretation of a “bio psycho social model” for illness, disability and the assessment and treatment of such suffering from that. His background as formerly UNUM insurance funded “researcher” is not convincing, but he and a few other like minded have managed to exert much influence on the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and their Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The latter is headed by a former UK ATOS employee and loyal follower of Aylward’s disputed theories, and they have also now managed to influence the NZ government to try and get sick and disabled into open employment (ordinary jobs on the open market).

    While that may work for some, there are high risks by putting expectations in mentally ill and also some other impaired persons. There have been some controversial decisions by WINZ paid doctors, that saw persons fit to do some work, but they clearly were not fit to work. Even worse cases like that have been reported on in UK media.

    This is indeed a very questionable development, to pay rewarding fees, for “results” that may happen upon certain unreasonable expectations being placed on the affected. It can have very harmful outcomes if things go wrong, and there are serious questions about the qualifications of the staff these providers use.

    Some local research and collation of resourced info has been made, and it is available here:
    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/

    Read up on Aylward’s connection to UNUM and how they played a role in UK reforms. UNUM was convicted in US courts and even banned from operating in at least 13 states.

    As for the bidders to this tender, there were contracts also awarded to Workwise, which is a business that is part of the Wise Group. Their advisor on strategic policy, Helen Lockett, was stangely also an “advisor” on the Health and Disability Panel that advised Paula Bennett, the government and MSD on the welfare reforms. Also has Dr David Beaumont, a repeated main advisor of MSD got his own business interests in ‘Pathways to Work’ (not part in this tender). There clearly are conflicts of interests, and how have these been managed, I ask?!

    If people with mental illness and certain other conditions are expected to work, it must be done fairly and reasonably, and without giving outsourced businesses incentives to earn head count money on this. Why the hell do WINZ not get their act together and do the job they are meant to do? Hey, there we have another problem, and I could write a long story on that.

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