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Contemporary vocational rehabilitation in Australia

N. Buys, L. R. Matthews, C. Randall,

Academic Literature


PURPOSE: There is a strong connection between disability and decreased participation rates in the Australian labour market. Australian government policy recognises vocational rehabilitation as a key strategy to increase employment rates of people with disabilities.;METHODS: This paper examines current Australian disability employment policies and practices. It also reviews vocational rehabilitation competency research to identify knowledge and skill domains central to quality service provision, and explores the delivery of tertiary level vocational rehabilitation education.;RESULTS: Policy changes in Australia over the last decade have been aimed at addressing the unsustainable increase in disability benefits. In this context vocational rehabilitation services continue to be viewed as crucial in assisting people with disabilities to maintain employment and reduce disengagement. Competencies research has consistently identified vocational counselling, personal counselling, professional practice and case management as central to quality vocational rehabilitation service provision. Two competencies identified in recent research, workplace disability case management and workplace interventions and program management, reflect the centrality of vocational rehabilitation to disability management.;CONCLUSIONS: Changes in the policy environment to reduce the number of disability pension recipients will inevitably lead to an increased demand for trained vocational rehabilitation personnel. Given the development of strong accreditation standards for vocational rehabilitation education and practice that underpin the provision of tertiary level rehabilitation counselling training programs, professionally qualified rehabilitation counsellors are ideally placed to address the complex employment needs of people with a disability.;IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION: It is important to understand changes that may occur in policy environments in terms of their impact on vocational rehabilitation service delivery for people with disabilities. Variable levels of training in the vocational rehabilitation sector result in people with complex needs not consistently receiving the services they need to access and maintain employment. Practitioners need to focus increasingly on individualized service delivery where the client has significant control over decisions about their rehabilitation program.

Publication information

Journal/Publication : Disability & Rehabilitation

Domain/s: Education

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