Our Experience Working with People with Disability
29 Jan 2020
SYC has created the Health and Disability portfolio to highlight and promote our work with people who have disability or are experiencing a mental illness, but this work is not new.
Due to the intersection of disability and mental illness with poor outcomes related to housing, employment and education, SYC has a long history of supporting people within this cohort to achieve positive outcomes, experience personal wellbeing and live an independent life free from disadvantage.
In the last year, 20% or almost 10,000 of the people SYC supports, disclosed that they have current disability while 11% of people disclosed that they have a current mental health issue. Both are the highest proportion in SYC’s history and represent an increase from the previous year.
Our work with people with disability or experiencing a mental illness is split between those services that specifically target the cohort and those where the cohort is a significant group within a more generalist service.
SYC has proven experience delivering disability and mental health services.
The main services SYC has delivered that specifically works with people with disability or experiencing a mental illness are Disability Employment Services (DES) and the previous Personal Helpers and Mentors Service (PHaMs). (PHaMs clients have recently transitioned to services through Continuity of Support and National Psychosocial Support.)
SYC has delivered DES since 2013, initially as a Youth Specialist. Over that time, we have secured over 1,000 jobs for people with disability and helped nearly 300 commence in accredited learning. More importantly, over half of the jobs secured have lasted more than 26 weeks providing a long-term attachment to work. Our success in disability employment saw the organisation recently triple the number of people we work with in DES, allowing us to share our expertise with more people.
Since 2013 SYC has also delivered the Personal Helpers and Mentors Service. On average, we worked with 240 people per year in this program whose lives are severely affected by mental ill-health. PHaMs helped people to overcome social isolation and increase connections with their community. We helped them to navigate and connect to services. Participants rated the support provided by SYC highly as they worked to overcome their barriers to employment, housing and managing their health:
As PHaMs clients have been exploring whether they are eligible to transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) we have continued to work with them, providing a stable, ongoing positive support during a challenging time.
SYC has proven experience helping people experiencing mental illness in crisis.
Other services provided by SYC have high concentrations of clients with disability or experiencing mental ill-health. For instance, in our youth homelessness services over half of our clients have a current mental health issue. This has been growing considerably over the past five years.
While the complexity of the caseload has grown we have continued to be able to deliver positive housing outcomes because our staff are trained to deliver specialist counselling services and build the skills needed to live independently. In the most recent reporting period, compared to when they entered our services over twice as many young people were in secure, long-term accommodation when they exited our services.
SYC has proven experience helping people with disability into work
In the jobactive service, people with disability or a mental illness are also a significant cohort. Each year, we work with over 8,500 people with disability or mental illness through this service alone. Since July 2015, our work in this area has led to over 12,500 placements into paid work in the open labour market for people with disability or a mental illness.
Our Sticking Together Project has also worked with high numbers of young people with disability or mental ill-health and achieved positive results. To date, 20% of people who have completed coaching in the Sticking Together Project have had either disability or mental ill-health. Importantly, these young people were just as likely to start work during coaching as young people without disability or mental illness, achieving a placement rate over 50%. With coaching support they were also able to work significantly more hours per person than anticipated. Compared to the number of hours they were expected to work without support from the Sticking Together Project, they worked six times as many hours.
SYC is Ready for the NDIS
We are also now a registered and accredited NDIS provider and we are currently delivering services in line with our strengths in Home, Learning, Working and Justice. We are able to deliver both Core Supports and Capacity Building Supports:
- Assistance with daily life
- Assistance with social and community participation
- Coordination of supports
- Improved living arrangements
- Increased social and community participation
- Finding and keeping a job – Including School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES)
- Improved daily living
- Improved relationships
We think our history delivering outcomes for people with disability or mental ill-health, helping them to find work, navigate services and secure housing, means we are the right people to be working in this field. We are excited for what lies ahead and what this opportunity signifies for the organisation. The creation of the Health and Disability portfolio is not just in response to what SYC has done in the past, but what we are aiming to do in the future.