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Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, June 2024

Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, State Manager Vic


The sector is in a state of flux at the moment, waiting for announcements on the direction of reform from the state and federal governments in the aftermath of the Disability Royal Commission Report (DRC) and the NDIS Review.  

Although the first tranche of legislation has been introduced into federal parliament, its final shape after amendment will depend on political manoeuvring. This, as well as subsequent legislative changes to the NDIS and negotiations between the states, territories and commonwealth, will eventually determine the shape of the scheme. We estimate this process could take five years. These changes will be significant to service provision outside the scheme as well, particularly for foundational supports.  

I am concerned that the timing of Victorian and federal disability reform is diverging, raising significant risks for people with disability and providers. The Victorian budget extended disability funding by one year. However, there was no new investment in foundational supports or related workforce development.  These will be crucial to address the new responsibilities of the states when the NDIS narrows its obligations to meet its eight per cent per annum growth target. Already the NDIA appears to be pulling back on participant plans, tightening the interpretation of “reasonable and necessary” supports, and taking a much harder line on health-related supports.? 

NDS is keen to see greater alignment of Victorian regulation with national safeguarding developments. We see the recent delay of the Victorian Disability and Social Services Amendment Bill as a positive step. It recognises the need to hold off for a coordinated approach. Given the major national safeguarding changes forecast, we were concerned that the proposed legislation would lock in Victorian developments pre-emptively. The delay of the Bill gives Victoria a chance to adjust its plans to fit with evolving national developments. We note that the NDIS Provider and Worker Registration Taskforce is due to report in June. 

As we await details of the reform agenda, I am hearing many members expressing both anxiety and hopefulness, with many services focused on their financial and workforce challenges. 

We really welcome the efforts of some providers, who are using this time to pursue strategies to more effectively retain their workers. Our recently released Workforce Census reported that staff turnover continued its upward trend, growing to 24 per cent this year, while permanent staff turnover jumped to 16 per cent, the highest it has been since this survey began. For the 360 organisations that responded to the survey, it represented a churn of almost 16,500 employees leaving their jobs and over 19,000 new appointments over a single year. This is an enormous drain of money, time, skills and experience.  

It was terrific to see so much engagement at our recent Work-Related Violence forum, which discussed practical strategies. Speakers acknowledged the need for action within organisations, as well as the regulatory and system level. Some of our members are responding to the call by embedding active support and practice leadership; others are amplifying the voice of people with lived experience at all levels within organisations.  

Finally, I am looking forward to seeing many of you at NDS's Victorian State Conference on 19 June at Rydges Melbourne. This one-day event will give you a chance to get together and network, share areas of interest and concern, and hear from thought leaders, government officials,  and keynote speakers. It is going to be a stimulating and engaging day. 

Contact information
Sarah Fordyce, State Manager VIC, 03 8341 4303, submit enquiry/feedback