Concerns have begun to arise following an announcement by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) that it has signed over the operation of its contact call centre services to an external company.
Serco Citizens Services Pty Ltd (Serco) will operate the NDIA call centre out of Melbourne and regional Victoria over the next two years, commencing next month.
However, Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) Secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch says this contract will be an absolute disaster for the NDIA and its participants.
She says the most effective way to operate the NDIA call centre is by running it directly or continuing the current arrangement through the Department of Human Services.
“For most people this call centre is their first point of contact with the NDIA, so it’s really important that they can get the information and help they need and know that their deeply personal circumstances will be kept absolutely confidential.”
Ms Vincent-Pietsch also believes the announcement is a bad outcome for the people who will work at the Serco call centre.
“They should have permanent, quality jobs directly with the NDIA and receive thorough training so they can help people,” she says.
“Serco on the other hand, has a proven track record of insecure jobs that pay less, usually with only the most basic of training, all to boost their profits at the expense of workers and the people they help.”
The Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) has labelled the move a flabbergasting decision.
The CID took to Twitter to express their concerns, writing “the first consideration should have been whether people with disability and their families would be confident in the provider.”
Senior Advocate for CID, Jim Simpson says the controversy surrounding Serco will leave many people with disability and their families reluctant and suspicious about using the call centre.
“This is the opposite of what is needed - open and confident communication with the NDIA,” he says.
Despite this the NDIA insists the use of external partners is not a new approach, with a large proportion of NDIA work undertaken by partnerships with the private sector.
“This approach is in line with the NDIA’s commitment to continuously improve so that the NDIS offers participants a quality experience that makes a difference to their lives, which encourages a vibrant provider market that will progressively be deregulated, while ensuring that the Scheme is financially stable.”
Ms Vincent-Pietsch says CPSU will continue its campaign to stop the Turnbull Government in selling Commonwealth agencies to Serco and other multinational companies.
“The Government’s ideological decision with putting public services in private, profit-driven hands is behind this NDIA decision.”