A recently released report asks the Commonwealth Government led collaboration between disability service providers, their employees and unions to take action to improve National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) clients’ satisfaction and safety, as well as employment security and service provider viability.
Where Secure Employment meets Clients’ Needs was commissioned by Greenacres Disability Services and funded through the Commonwealth Government’s Innovative Workforce Fund.
Report author, Dr Fiona Macdonald, investigated the impacts of the NDIS funding model on disability support worker employment and the clients they assist, finding service providers are looking for more casual labour to balance their costs with short notice requests.
While casual work arrangements can receive a response from people with disabilities who require flexible access to services, it does disincentivise retention of quality staff who want job security and provides less staff continuity for their clients.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Greenacres Disability Services, Chris Christodoulou, says, “With the NDIS under stress in terms of workforce issues, this ground-breaking report highlights the need for a collaborative approach where the needs of both participants and support staff intersect and create secure employment which is responsive to meet client needs.
“Dr Macdonald analysed the risks associated with a casualised workforce under the NDIS and put forward various options for unions, employees and providers to consider, which can stem the tide of insecure employment, whilst at the same time, having a workforce that can be responsive to when people with disabilities require their services.”
The report suggested adopting secure, adjustable or responsive work arrangements as options for permanent part time employees; provide a minimum engagement period for part time employees; build flexibility across services and participants through self-managed teams and work, and minimise casual employment.
Dr Macdonald adds, “In my view, the NDIS can only meet its full potential to provide quality services to clients if we have a workforce which has secure employment, whilst at the same time being responsive to client needs.”
Acting CEO of National Disability Services, David Moody, says, “The Report highlights that through collaboration we do not have to make choices between employing casuals or permanent staff, because efficiency and effectiveness can be achieved if all parties use a collaborative industrial relations framework to consider the options in the report.
“I believe many providers will look at the proposals in this report and see some real advantages.”
Australian Services Union New South Wales Branch Secretary, Natalie Laing, believes this report can be utilised by the industry to build careers in what is a “very transactional” NDIS scheme, which pushes employers to use more casual staff.
Ms Laing says, “The growth in casual employment is in no one’s long term interests. Not providers, not Government, not participants and not employees.
“The ASU is open to have discussions with providers who want to be constructive to find good solutions.”
To read the report, head to the National Disability Services website.