WA in Focus by Graeme West, September 2023
It is a challenging time of major reform in the disability sector from both a federal and state perspective. The Disability Royal Commission report is due 29 September, and the NDIS Review is due to report soon after.
Alongside those two big pieces of Federal work, we also have the ongoing reporting and evaluation work of Australia’s Disability Strategy through DSS, an Employment White Paper being driven out of Treasury, and a revision of the Commonwealth Disability Services Act.
At the State level, adding to this, discussions are underway for WA Disability Legislation / Bilateral which will shape expectations on mainstream services and community. When we look at the timing of these big-ticket items, we can see a lot of work culminating in September and October this year allowing the Government Departments to begin locking down the next Federal Budget. In that context the volume of reform underway makes sense, but from a sector perspective it is quite consuming.
We are hearing from providers around WA that they are overwhelmed, that they are concerned about their viability with the new price limits, concerned about PACE and they are fatigued from the level of reform and change in the sector.
To help in our advocacy and strategy work, NDS recently conducted key member engagements as part of its State Pre-Budget Submission (PBS) work. Three sessions were held, and we thank members for their significant input. A discussion of priorities focused on investing in the disability sector workforce, improving the effectiveness of the NDIS and building accessible communities and participation.
A Council of Regional Disability Services (CORDS) session followed these and we further explored key workforce and service provision issues for regional, rural and remote communities. Innovation is essential as service providers seek assistance in addressing the challenge of high rental costs by accommodating workers in shared housing and call for state investment in the use of innovative technologies, such as smart goggles, to overcome geographic barriers in engaging skilled staff.
The NDIS Job Matching Service continues to provide workforce development support to providers around the state and is currently funded until 31 December 2023. NDS recently submitted applications for eight Regional Economic Development grants in Western Australia, to deliver a ‘Care Economy Connector’ program in the regions.
If successful, this project will build on the learnings and stakeholder relationships built through the NDIS Job Matching Service and enable NDS to continue to provide place-based workforce support to our members in regional and remote Western Australia. We hope to hear the outcome of our applications soon.
There are two key events I would like to draw your attention to in closing. NDS will be holding the International Day of People with Disability on Friday 1st December. The International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a global observance that aims to promote awareness, understanding, and support for the rights, dignity, and well-being of people with disabilities. The day serves as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disabilities.
NDS have been proudly hosting this event with the Department of Communities for a number of years and we hope you will be able to join us in the celebrations. Watch out for the event invite to come out soon.
The Department of Communities is organising a Western Australian Disability Sector Event. This event provides an opportunity for sector representatives to interact with senior Communities staff who oversee disability services and funding. Additionally, it serves as a valuable platform to network with fellow professionals in the sector.
CEOs or their designated representatives are cordially invited to attend this event, scheduled for the afternoon of Wednesday, September 27.
Please note that specific details regarding the venue, timing, and program are yet to be finalised. Comprehensive information will be made available shortly but you will still be able to register on the Department of Communities event page Please register by Friday 15 September.