Tasmania in Focus by Renee Malby, June 2022
As I write, it is the end of Reconciliation Week. I acknowledge and pay respects to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people as the traditional and original owners and acknowledge Elders past, present and emerging. I hope that you have celebrated Reconciliation Week and we all continue to walk together towards reconciliation.
Since joining NDS on 16 May, I have had the pleasure of meeting the NDS Tasmanian Committee, several valued Members, and hosted a Hot Topics breakfast with Ingrid Ganley (Director Disability Department of Communities Tasmania), Rohan Braddy (President NDS National Board), and NDS CEO Laurie Leigh. The event was well attended by our members, partners, and a breadth of industry and community leaders. I thank everyone who came.
Winter is here and flu season has started. We are now seeing the reduction of COVID-19 restrictions, signalling the beginning of ‘living with COVID’ as part of our everyday lives. The most recent extension of the Mandatory Health Order until 30 June, is anticipated to be the final extension. This is a timely reminder for disability providers to put your strategies into place. To help you with your strategies, I urge you to take advantage of the NDS COVID 19 Toolkit.
There are a number of resources available on NDS website, including:
- NDS COVID 19 Toolkit
- COVID-19 Hub (nds.org.au)
- Videos: Correct mask use: surgical and Correct mask use: N95 / P2
Workforce shortages in the disability sector remain critical. We are not seeing significant improvementsfast enough. It seems many providers are preparing for a difficult winter, with both influenza and COVID-19 adding to workforce shortages.
At NDS, we provide support to the sector through our Workforce Hub, webinars and networking opportunities.
National Disability Practitioners (NDP)
National Disability Practitioners (NDP) is an initiative of NDS for the disability workforce. It consists of approximately 14,000 support workers, allied health professionals, and sole traders. All NDS members can enjoy free NDP subscriptions for their staff.
NDP’s one-day virtual conference on 23 May was full of innovative ideas for the massive growth and retention of the disability workforce. The conference also opened this year’s Workmate of the Year competition, designed to recognise and celebrate the amazing work of people in the disability sector. NDP is also engaged in an online pilot for NDIS support workers’ professional network, which seeks to nurture the workforce and aid retention. Please encourage your staff to register.
Our Workforce Census has been developed within the industry to deliver you real, practical and timely data. Since 2015, NDS workforce surveys have collected data at a national and state and territory level for disability workers and allied health workers.
Alongside the sector’s workforce issues, there is still a large gap between the participation of people with disability in the labour market and the mainstream workforce. We are pleased to receive $200,000 for National Disability Services to deliver a new disability employment pilot program, Pathways from School to Work. This is a program focused on empowering participants to ensure more Tasmanians can grasp the opportunities to get into work.
Resources, events and training
The resources NDS provides are vast. We run year-round events and training sessions designed to help providers and staff at all different levels. These also include the Workforce Essentials eLearning library, which can be delivered through your own LMS or the through the website.
The Tasmanian events update newsletter is also emailed to NDS member employees each fortnight. Member discounts are available to NDS members.
Recent online workshops have been focused on professional supervision for workers.
The NDIA did not release new pricing information before the federal election. NDS acknowledges that providers are facing uncertainty in developing their 2022/23 budgets. Impending changes to the SCHADS award is also pushing organisations to overhaul staffing rosters to reduce the potential of significant additional costs.
Before the federal election, NDS CEO Laurie Leigh provided a strong voice for service providers to the federal government, the opposition, and candidates around the country. The National Day of Action on 28 April saw rallies around Australia, supported by the NDS Teamwork works campaign, with calls to keep the NDIS strong.
Announced Thursday 26 May, the Tasmanian 2022/23 State Budget provides additional funding focused on support to essential services impacted by COVID-19, and continuing investment into community infrastructure.
While the 2022/2023 Budget does not contain significant new spending specifically aimed at people with disabilities or the sector, NDS is pleased to note the commitment of $400,000 to the establishment of the Statutory Office of a Tasmanian Disability Commission. This is in addition to the $1.2 million over four years identified in last year’s budget. An Interim Disability Commissioner will be recruited in July.
The Tasmanian Government will contribute over $1 billion (over four years) to the NDIS. The very welcome and much-needed investment in advocacy services, peak bodies, including NDS, and the Tasmanian Autism Diagnostic Service announced last year will continue.
On a final note, I would like to thank you for your hard work. I look forward to meeting with you in person. Please reach out if there is anything you would like to raise with me.