Our discussions with IA clients suggest that they almost never disclose mental health and related conditions on the JSCI.
To Centrelink's credit they have gone to some trouble on the JSCI to inform job-seekers that any personal information they disclose "will be used to help" them and will be treated confidentially.
Another excellent outcome of the JSCI review process has been that disclosure of an intellectual disability on the JSCI will now prompt an automatic assessment of their work ability using Centrelink's Work Ability Tables.
iii) A third reason for lack of disclosure of relevant conditions on the JSCI may relate to the fashion and environment in which the JSCI is administered.
This may well contribute to what we think is an under reporting of mental health and related issues on the JSCI.
The first opportunity for identification of such issues once in IA might be directly from the JSCI information.
Even in cases where employment consultants do get ready, quick access to JSCI details, the quality of the information contained on the JSCI screen may not be sufficient to provide meaningful clarification of an issue.
Given patchy access to the categorical, "low-resolution" information provided by the JSCI, it will often be entirely up to the employment consultant to both identify a medical/personal or mental health issue, and judge its potential or actual impact on work ability.
In cases where mental-health related issues are suspected employment agencies may choose either to continue working with the client, but seek additional funds from Centrelink in recognition of the barrier (via an upgrade of their JSCI score), or they may seek to exit the client altogether from their agency with a view to the client being transferred to a more suitable social-security scheme.
Thus even in cases where Centrelink agree that their own tool, the JSCI, failed and a client with unidentified barriers to work was inappropriately referred to IA, the employment-agency is required to pay the $536 SNA fee in order that Centrelink perform the job it should have done initially.
It has been argued in this article that mental health issues preventing or obstructing a client from work may not be identified on the JSCI in considerable numbers of cases for understandable reasons.
As IA providers will have an interest in quickly identifying all factors relevant to success it makes sense that they may wish to conduct some formalised checks on basic functioning and work-readiness rather than rely solely on informal interview, gut instinct or Centrelink's JSCI.