Grampians man with disability paid $2.52 an hour

An intellectually disabled Grampians man has been compensated by the Commonwealth after being paid as little as $2.52 an hour in government funded workshops. 

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, received $26,000 in back pay after he was paid between $2.52 and $3.23 an hour at Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE), lawyer Kairsty Wilson said.

The pay out is 70 per cent of what he is calculated to be owed for his work, which spans about eight years at two separate ADEs in the Grampians. 

About 10,000 intellectually disabled workers nationwide are thought to be eligible for compensation after a Federal Court ruling late last year deemed their wages to be discriminatory. 

In December last year the Federal Court approved a 2015 class action brought against the Commonwealth for a wages policy which saw workers paid as little as 33 cents an hour.

An intellectually disabled Grampians man has been compensated by the Commonwealth after being paid as little as $2.52 an hour in government funded workshops.

An intellectually disabled Grampians man has been compensated by the Commonwealth after being paid as little as $2.52 an hour in government funded workshops.

“He was overwhelmed he just said ‘I can’t thank you enough, this means so much to me and my family, I can go and buy a washing machine, I can have a holiday, pay off my debts and put some money aside,’” Ms Wilson, legal manager of Association for Employees with a Disability, said.

“We just want everyone to get the money that they’re entitled to.”

The tool used to calculate intellectually disabled workers’ productivity, known as the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT), was judged “theoretical and artificial” by the full Federal Court.

The case was brought against the Commonwealth in 2012 by Stawell man Gordon Prior, who is visually impaired and intellectually disabled, and another plaintiff. 

Ms Wilson said some workers earned less than it cost to get to work.

“We had one client who was assessed under BSWAT and she was paid 33 cents an hour which was $153 per annum and it cost her more to get to work than what she got paid.”

Ms Wilson said work was still underway to amend other wage assessments still in operation which are also deemed discriminatory.

Employees who worked at an ADE from July 2004 will be eligible for a pay out. To apply for a payment, people must register with the scheme by 30 April 2017. To register call AED Legal Centre on (03) 9639 4333 or email noni.lord@aed.org.au. People can also call 1800 799 515 to register.