Top 5 problems with the BSWAT Payment Scheme
What’s wrong with the BSWAT Payment Scheme?
The BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill does not deliver justice for workers in ADEs who have experienced discrimination and/or lost wages as a result of having their wages assessed by the BSWAT.
Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme mean that I will be paid more in the future?
NO! The BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill does not put an end to the use of the BSWAT assessment tool. People will still be assessed by the BSWAT and will continue to receive sub award wages until the BSWAT system is replaced with a fair alternative. For example, a person with intellectual disability assessed by the BSWAT who earned $1.86 per hour for the last 5 years may receive a payment under the scheme, but they will continue to earn $1.86 an hour until the BSWAT is abolished.
Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme mean that all people affected by the BSWAT are eligible for a payment?
NO! Only people with intellectual disability will be eligible for the BSWAT Payment Scheme. There are many people without intellectual disability that have had their wages unfairly assessed using the BSWAT and these people are excluded from the scheme. For example, a person with a sensory or psychiatric disability may have been unfairly assessed using the BSWAT. This person may work at the same ADE, doing the same job, and earning the same unfair wage as a worker with intellectual disability. However, the scheme does not recognise that these other people with disability have also been treated wrongly. It is unfair and discriminatory for people without intellectual disability to be excluded from strategies intended to right the wrongs that the BSWAT created.
Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme pay me all the money I am owed?
NO! The BSWAT Payment Scheme will only offer an eligible person a proportion of the wages they should have been paid. They may not receive the full amount. Moreover, it will not compensate workers for the lost social and economic opportunities they experienced as a result of being paid less than they had earned. The more money a person has the more life choices they have - choices about the food, clothes and accommodation they can afford; choices about whether to save or spend money; and choices about what they do in their spare time and where they go. People with disability assessed using the BSWAT have had their life choices reduced because their incomes have been unfairly low.
Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme provide compensation for the discrimination I experienced because I am a person with disability?
NO! The Payment Scheme will only give money to an eligible person if they give up their legal rights to complain about how they have been treated. In December 2012 the Federal High Court of Australia said that the BSWAT tool was unlawful because was discriminatory. People with disability have a right to a remedy for this discrimination, and a right to ask a court to decide how much compensation they should receive for being treated unfairly by the government and their employers. However, if a person accepts a payment under the scheme, it means that the government does not have to apologise for the discrimination that they have allowed to happen, or to make up for the harm that it has caused.
Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme mean that my ADE job is secure?
NO! The Payment Scheme Bill is completely separate to how ADEs are funded by the government, or how ADEs operate as businesses. In April 2014 the Australian Human Rights Commission told the Commonwealth government that they have 1 year to transition from the BSWAT to a fair alternative. This should mean that workers who have been assessed using the BSWAT will be reassessed and receive higher wages in the future. ADEs will have to pay these higher wages so that people with disability are paid fairly and have their rights as workers respected. In order to pay these higher wages they could improve their business practices so that they make more profit, or they could receive more money from the government to help them. These changes are happening anyway, it will make no difference if people with disability want to have access to a payment scheme or not.
PWDA does not agree that the BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill is a fair system to right the wrongs that the BSWAT has created for many thousands of people with disability.
PWDA advocates that:
- Use of the BSWAT should end immediately and workers should be reassessed using the Support Wage System (SWS) tool. This would ensure that employees receive fair wages and would entitle them to the employment protections that all other Australian workers have access to.
- The Commonwealth government should commit to a date when these SWS assessments will be completed.
- The Commonwealth government should compensate all workers with disability who were paid unfairly because they were assessed using the BSWAT.
- Compensation should consider the lost wages, lost opportunities and discrimination experienced by people who were paid unfairly because they were assessed using the BSWAT.