Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, April 2023
Victorian disability services continue to operate in challenging times. As we move into autumn and beginning to think about flu and COVID waves over coming months, many providers are revisiting their infection, prevention and control processes by seeking advice on the NDS COVID hub.
Concerns about economic viability are also prominent, with 42 per cent of Victorian respondents to the 2022 NDS State of the Sector survey predicting a loss this financial year. This is a very worrying figure, driving many organisations to reflect on their future direction and look for further efficiencies.
Many Victorian day services are focussed on the transition to the new group prices. NDS understands that the NDIA is set to make some small amendments to group based supports pricing including a short term extension to the transition period. At our next Victorian Day Services. network meeting on 17 May we will have this as a lead topic and the NDIA will present on the changes.
The tight labour market is seeing many disability providers step up their efforts to recruit and retain staff. Members report wanting to broaden their recruitment base, investing more in the on-boarding and support of new employees, and increasing the focus on diversity within their organisations. Such ideas are regularly discussed at our Victorian Workforce Network meetings.
Another bubbling concern is data security breaches across organisations. Now is a good time to conduct due diligence on your IT infrastructure, internal systems and use of customer data. Many organisations use security tools, such as the Commonwealth Government’s Cyber Security Assessment Tool, which highlights your cyber security readiness. In a recent informal poll, NDS found that only 29 per cent of providers conduct regular cyber testing and training with their employees.
In Victoria, we are watching the passage of new disability legislation before state parliament. The Disability and Social Services Amendment Bill 2022 seeks a swathe of amendments to the Disability Act 2006, Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and Disability Service Safeguards Act 2018. NDS has been consulted on key aspects of the legislation. We continue to argue that the current mix of state and national requirements and authorities in the disability safeguarding space is complex and confusing. We would like to see better alignment of the state and commonwealth requirements and more investment in abuse prevention, such as through the NDS Zero Tolerance resources. We will keep members updated on the passage and implementation of this legislation in coming months.
We are also advocating on Victoria’s long service benefits scheme, which is under review. We are keen to hear from members about their experience of this scheme.
On a positive note, the Victorian Government has funded NDS to continue our work on occupational violence in disability services. This is a complex and intractable issue, with major negative ramifications for everyone. We are excited to launch a new webinar series, featuring deep dives into different factors behind occupational violence. Registrations are still open, with sessions to build capability in your workforce and a session on using data to inform your training and practice.
Please head to the NDS website to stay informed of upcoming Victorian Network Meetings and our national Communities of Practice. These meetings are a great source of inside information from the sector and a way to share and collaborate with other organisations. This is particularly relevant now as we watch progress and discuss implications of both national and state developments, including the NDIS Review, the Disability Royal Commission, and the current NDIS Price Review.
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Addressing Occupational Violence
These meetings are open to those that are interested in support and building Disability Support Worker capability.