Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, February 2023
There is a sense of optimism in the disability sector as we enter 2023. This time last year, service providers grappled with the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission we had seen, with significant transmission in disability settings placing enormous pressure on an exhausted workforce. We hope that, without the pressure of rising case numbers this time around, many of the hard-working people in our sector have found time over the last month or so to relax, spend time with family and friends, and recharge their batteries for the year ahead.
On the flip side, we also acknowledge the economic challenges facing some of our members. Our State of the Sector Report 2022 indicated that 42 per cent of Victorian service providers expect to make a financial loss this financial year. This is deeply concerning, and NDS will continue to support and advocate for providers throughout this challenging economic period.
It is poised to be a big year on the policy and advocacy front, with the Disability Royal Commission set to hand down its recommendations in September and recommendations from the once-in-a-decade NDIS review following shortly after. NDS is engaging with both reviews and continues to advocate for high-quality outcomes for disability service providers and the people they support.
I’d like to bring your attention to some important updates from the last couple of months.
- The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has released its long-awaited Own Motion Inquiry into aspects of supported accommodation. The inquiry report identifies areas where both the Commission and providers can improve the quality and safety of supports to participants, including enhanced regulation, amendment of practice standards, and education for providers and workers. We expect more regulation in this area, with a greater focus on staff training, development and supervision. With many providers already facing economic uncertainty in the year ahead, NDS will be strongly advocating that any changes to training requirements or practice standards must be accompanied by government funding for implementation. You can read about our response on our website.
- Last month, NDS made a submission to the NDIS Joint Standing Committee Inquiry into the Capability and Culture of the NDIS. The submission provides nine recommendations to improve issues in pricing, systems and processes, relationships with providers, and communication.
- The Department of Social Services has produced a discussion paper on a proposed DES Quality Framework. NDS is eager to hear from members to inform our response to the proposal.
- Recently, NDS provided a pre-budget submission to the Victorian Government, advocating for initiatives to improve the lives of Victorians with disabilities. The submission called for funded workforce initiatives, an expansion of NDS’s Zero Tolerance work, and increased funding for mainstream services that are accessible for all Victorians. I’m looking forward to discussing the submission in my upcoming meeting with Victoria’s new Disability Minister, Lizzie Blandthorn MP.
- We were delighted that The Age picked up on one of the issues highlighted in the submission, that of worker NDIS checks, which continue to be problematic for providers.
- In response to our strong advocacy about the negative impacts of bus accreditation requirements, Safe Transport Victoria has advised disability service providers to hold off getting accredited bus number plates while it works on an exemption mechanism.
Provider banned following NDIS Fraud Fusion Taskforce investigation
A new federal taskforce established to identify fraudulent NDIS providers has exposed two Victorian companies who were claiming funds from the NDIS for services that were never delivered. The NDIA has a Claims and Payments Integrity team that can request validation of claims for payments at any time. Providers need to ensure their claims reflect the services they delivered and keep accurate supporting records. You can read more on our website.
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If you are not receiving this NDS News Victoria eNewsletter, I encourage you to subscribe. It is sent to you each month to keep you up to date with issues, events and insights into the disability sector in Victoria.
We are looking forward to catching up with members as our events and network meetings ramp up for the year.
Addressing Occupational Violence — Safe Systems of Work
This three-part, deep dive, interactive Community of Practice will explore how to minimise the risk of occupational violence through safe systems of work. The aim is to learn from one another, discuss issues and share ideas. The first session will explore rostering, staffing ratios and balancing workloads in high stress environments. Our second session will consider how the physical environment may increase or decrease risks of occupational violence. The third session will focus on psychological safety and ways to mitigate risk.
Dates and times
- Tuesday 21 February, 12:00pm to 1:00pm
- Tuesday 28 February, 12:00pm to 1:00pm
- Tuesday 7 March, 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Register for the three-part event
Consultation — Improving end-of-life choices for people with a disability
NDS is hearing increased concern among providers about end-of-life care and support for people with disabilities. NDS, in partnership with the Victorian State-wide Disability and Palliative Care Advisory Group, invites disability providers, advocacy organizations, palliative care coordinators and other key stakeholders to attend an online meeting to discuss these issues. The session will help our advocacy for better end-of-life experiences for people with disability in Australia.
Date and time
- Tuesday 28 February, 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Join one of our Victorian Network Meetings
NDS Victoria runs regular network meetings to give updates, gather feedback and share good practice. NDS Victoria hosts Networks in the following areas:
- Supported Independent Living
- Specialist Disability Accommodation
- day services
- health and safety representatives
- Occupational Health and Safety
- boards and senior leaders
- support coordination
- in-home supports
- allied health workforce
- COVID-19 prevention, vaccines and outbreak management.
You can register by heading to the NDS events page on our website, or get in contact with Kym Vassiliou, submit enquiry/feedback, Project and Engagement Coordinator in the NDS Victorian team.
NDS also runs a swathe of National Communities of Practice for members across a broad range of areas including employment, housing and support, workforce, and quality and safeguarding. You can check them out and subscribe through our website.
For any enquiries, please contact Sarah Fordyce, Victoria State Manager, submit enquiry/feedback, show phone number