Disability services company pocketed nearly $1m for barista course lacking basic equipment, inquiry hears

A barista course spruiked by the national disability insurance scheme and for which a company pocketed nearly $1m from the federal government lacked the most basic equipment, an inquiry has been told.

Over a three-day hearing this week, the disability royal commission is investigating the troubled Disability Employment Services program, a $1.4bn a year federal government scheme that pays companies and non-profits to get hundreds of thousands of people with disability into work.

On Wednesday, counsel assisting the commission, Kate Eastman SC, raised the case of BusyBeans, a barista training course for people with disability run by health services company Rehab Management and a connected employment service provider, AimBig.

Despite a significant flow of taxpayer funds, the inquiry heard allegations at least one of the several BusyBeans training centres had “no established policies, procedures, safety measures or proper facilities to train the participants”.

It also heard claims participants were referred to the training from its other employment services program, likely triggering a payment from the government for getting the person into work or training.

Representatives from AimBig, Rehab Management and their holding company, Arriba Group, are yet to respond and will give evidence later this week.

Mzia* is a former jobseeker in the disability employment services program who lives with ADHD. She had been working in retail since she was 14, and had experience as a barista, but no formal qualifications.

She told the royal commission she found a job advertisement for a barista trainer and asked her AimBig consultant for help applying, only to learn the BusyBeans program was effectively run by the same company.

Despite saying she found the job herself, she said she was asked to sign documents saying her employment consultant had found her the position.

Mzia said she had high hopes for the new job, but these were not matched by the reality.

Mzia claimed on her first day in…

Read full story at the guardian.com

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