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NDIS Workforce Enquiry – Joint Submission  

Social & Communities May 21, 2020

Some months ago, you may recall our union sought member participation in a survey that was part of a research study our union jointly commissioned with the Health Services Union (HSU) and United Workers Union (UWU).

The findings from this survey of more than 2300 disability workers across the country was released this week in the research study report by the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre and highlights the lived experience of the workforce operating under the NDIS.

The findings show that the current workforce conditions under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) serve to undermine the capacity of the workforce to provide quality support to people with disability.

Key findings from the report are:

  • Many workers expressed concern about the NDIS with only just over a quarter believing it provided quality support for participants. Only 1 in 5 workers agreed the NDIS had been a positive experience them as a worker.
  • Working time arrangements contributed to much concern for workers, over half work less than full time across multiple jobs, most reported doing vital tasks in unpaid time and many report constant shift changes and unstable rostering arrangements.
  • Many report dissatisfaction with low pay rates and significant periods of unpaid work. Workers are rarely paid for travel time between clients and many are not reimbursed for out of pocket expenses incurred in the course of their work.
  • Workers report a lack of supervision, which was reinforced by respondents who were supervisors advising they have too many people to supervise effectively.
  • Many workers report a lack of access to training and training is rarely provided in paid time.

Utilising the research report our union has made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS and the inquiry into the NDIS Workforce on behalf of members as well as participating in a joint submission with the HSU and UWU.

Our submission outlined a number of ways to improve working conditions for the disability workforce.

The following recommendations where made:

1. NDIS pricing assumptions should be reviewed to:

(a) reflect the reality of disability support work (including appropriate classifications for the work performed, adequate time allocated for tasks, administration, supervision, training etc); and

(b) support secure jobs in the sector.

2. The Government should establish a portable leave and training entitlement scheme for NDIS workers so that there is a person-centred approach to training and career development in the sector, which will help with retention and recruitment.

3. There needs to be better support for disability support workers during the COVID-19 pandemic including:

(a) provision of a COVID-19 Care Allowance;

(b) provision of appropriate protective equipment;

(c) no loss of pay where services are disrupted;

(d) workers are provided with appropriate and specialised disability infection control training; and

(e) paid pandemic leave for all disability support workers.

Our union continues to campaign to make the NDIS The Best It Can Be!

We will keep you informed about NDIS sector developments and you can always keep up to date by visiting our website www.theservicesunion.com.au

Action you can take right now

  1. Sign and share the petition to demand better pay and training for NDIS workers in facing COVID-19. We need everyone in the disability sector to add their name!
  2. Share the news with your colleagues (and let them know that the best protection at work is an ASU membership – not a member yet?  Join online here.

Remember through your union membership you can:

Start saving with discounts at Coles, Woolworths and many more retailers exclusively for Services Union members.

Develop new skills using ASU Career Launchpad. It’s a free training portal for ASU members with live webinars and short courses run by experts.

If you have any questions about what’s happening for you at work you can call Services Connect on 3844 5300 or email Industrial@theservicesunion.com.au or contact your local organiser.

We are by your side, every step of the way.

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