DISABILITY service provider Mai-Wel has confirmed that it no longer has the contracts to provide supported employment for all of the 57 people working in the business services section of Mai-Wel Enterprises at Telarah.
Chief executive Lynne Graham and employment services general manager Kylie Tegg spoke with Australian Community Media yesterday in response to concerns raised about the impending job losses.
They said the supported employees would be asked if they wanted to use their NDIS funding for other things; or if they wanted to remain in work, they could apply for one of the remaining positions, or be offered voluntary redundancy.
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The supported employees were both NDIS participants and Mai-Wel Enterprises employees, working under an enterprise agreement with full redundancy packages.
Ms Graham said COVID and changing business practices meant the business services section had "less than half" of the work it previously had. She said Mai-Wel had to restructure this part of its operation and had advised the supported employees who worked in this area that it no longer had enough work for everyone.
"The people who are most affected right now are the supported employees, the people with disability," Ms Graham said.
"How many staff hours will be required at the end of this will depend on the ratio of the support requirements of the people with disability. For staff, however, I expect we will be able to redeploy any excess from Mai-Wel Enterprises to other parts of the business."
She said jobs could be maintained if Mai-Wel could attract more work to business services.
Mai-Wel's 2019-20 annual report said the group had 104 supported employees working for it, and a staff of 473 across its various sections.
Ms Graham said the supported workforce at the two sides of Mai-Wel Enterprises was down to 77, with fewer staff.
Ms Tegg said Mai-Wel Enterprises had two sides to its Telarah business: one was industry products, making timber pallets, metal toolboxes and other similar products, the other was business services, which included packaging, scanning and document disposal and shredding. She said there was "a strong pipeline of work" into the industry products side but various changes around the move to "the paperless office" had substantially cut the work available for business services.
Mai-Wel was formed in Maitland in 1960 and has grown substantially over the decades to now have operations at Cessnock and Dungog as well as Maitland and Telerah.
Ms Graham said the NDIS had created challenges for all disability providers, with pricing structures that were "challenging".
"You have to be as lean as possible," Ms Graham said. "The NDIS has been very good for its participants, but I have to say it's been challenging for us."
She said the NDIS gave its participants the support to do new things. Mai-Wel was talking to its supported employees about using their time and funding differently.
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