Kymberly Martin

Disability Employment Services being examined by Royal Commission

The next hearing of the Disability Royal Commission will examine the Disability Employment Services (DES) program and whether it contributes to or operates to prevent violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation of people with disability.


Public hearing 21 will be held from 23 – 25 February 2022.

The hearing will include a case study about DES provider AimBig Employment and the operation of its BusyBeans barista training program. The commission will hear from a person with disability who is a former AimBig DES participant and worked in the BusyBeans program. Representatives of AimBig and the Australian Government will give evidence.

Representatives from the Youth Disability Advocacy Service will give evidence about the experiences of young people with disability engaging with DES providers. The commission will also hear from DES CEO Rick Kane.


This hearing will examine:

  • choice and control of DES participants over employment opportunities
  • provision of services and support to DES participants to find and maintain a job
  • whether DES staff have adequate training to support people with disability
  • outcomes and expenditure of the DES program
  • regulation, oversight and safeguard mechanisms
  • how funding models may impact the conduct of DES providers; and
  • complaint handling by DES providers.

The DES program is the Australian Government’s flagship program to support people with disability find and maintain employment. As at September 1, 2021, 108 DES service providers supported more than 310,000 people across 3,749 sites and 6,582 outlets in metropolitan and regional Australia. The Australian Government spends more than $1.4 billion on DES annually.

Royal Commission chair, Ronald Sackville QC, will preside at the hearing.

The hearing will be live-streamed on the Disability Royal Commission’s website and include live captioning and Auslan-English interpreters.