Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, September 2023
As we await the findings of the Disability Royal Commission and the NDIS Review, NDS in Victoria continues to hear reports of providers under stress. This is in line with our previously reported recent poll results which found that 83 per cent of respondents indicated that they may not be able to deliver services at current NDIA pricing.
A key issue impacting many Victorian providers is the cost and access to insurance. Providers are reporting difficulties in gaining PSA (physical and sexual abuse) insurance, and limitations and onerous conditions associated with such insurance. WorkCover premiums have significantly increased this year in Victoria, with the cost clearly out of line with the NDIA reasonable cost model which underpins NDIA pricing.
NDS has been raising insurance concerns at both federal and state levels, with one line of action being a possible industry roundtable on the issue. We are not the only industry facing insurance woes, and it is important that our particular concerns and impacts are heard.
I recently met with Victoria’s Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, the Hon Lizzie Blandthorn together with Hayley Dean, Chair of our NDS State Committee. In a wide ranging discussion we covered the challenges facing disability services, including those relating to PSA and Workcover insurance. We also discussed the NDIS Review, and its likely call for ‘community wide foundational supports’ and expectation that the states will step up in this space.
The Minister acknowledged this and noted that the Victorian government made significant investments in disability inclusion in education in its last budget. We also discussed the commitment of the Victorian Government to quality services in the sector, and specifically previous funding of the NDS Zero Tolerance resources and current funding of our groundbreaking occupational violence project. We would welcome more investment in such initiatives, rather than the current focus on additional regulation and compliance.
I am delighted to welcome new members to the NDS Vic State Committee. Both Liz Cairns, Scope Australia, and Lynette McKeown, Able Australia, are new members, and we welcome back Drew Beswick, Possability, and Terry Symonds, Yooralla. I also wish to thank Kate MacRae, Scope Australia, for her valuable contribution to the Committee. Hayley Dean, Melba Support Services, is continuing as Chair, whilst Natasha Williams, The Disability Trust, has been appointed Deputy Chair. The Committee meets regularly, and provides advice and insights to NDS.
Can I encourage all CEOs and Senior Managers of disability service organisations to tell us about your perspective of the State of the Sector, about disability policy and the operating environment. Our annual State of the Sector survey is out at present, and the findings will be released at the NDS Executive Leaders Meeting on 11 December. We are finding that data from this survey and our periodic pulse polls make a real impact with governments, and underpin our strong voice on behalf of the sector. You can request a copy of the survey on our website.
Over coming weeks, I expect a rich flow of information about the NDIS Review and Royal Commission, and the NDIA’s new PACE system - all with major ramifications for our sector. NDS will be working hard to draw out the implications of these for providers, and translate the information into digestible updates for members. Now is a great time to renew your NDS membership, if you haven’t already done so. I also encourage you to come along to our regular Victorian network meetings where we will be providing updates on developments and facilitating the sharing of good practice, as well as our national Communities of practice.