Stawell man's high court win paves way for compensation

STAWELL - A significant high court win by Stawell man Gordon Prior has paved the way for thousands of intellectually disabled workers who were underpaid while working in government enterprises to be compensated by the Commonwealth.

The Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield, has announced workers who can prove they suffered economic loss will be eligible for a one-off payment.

Everyone working in an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) will be sent a letter telling them about the payment scheme this month.

People involved in a court case that started recently will be excluded from the scheme.

Last year, the legal team for Mr Prior and Michael Nojin who worked in disability enterprises - formerly known as "sheltered workshops" - successfully argued that the competency section in the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) is fundamentally discriminatory and has the effect of keeping wage rates for people with an intellectual disability unreasonably low, to the point that some people earn $2 an hour or less.

Mr Prior and Mr Nojin were both being paid less than $4 an hour and contended the test used to determine their wages was discriminatory.

A majority of the full Federal Court agreed, determining that the use of the BSWAT unlawfully discriminated against people with disabilities.

The Commonwealth of Australia made an application for special leave to the High Court, appealing the Federal Court's decision.

The application for special leave to appeal was rejected by Their Honours, Justices Crennan, Kiefel and Keane, bringing the long-running case to an end.

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