End of Year Message: Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities
As we predicted at the beginning of the year, 2018 has indeed turned out to be the "big kahuna" in terms of NDIS roll-out in Victoria. We have seen seven new roll-out sites, thousands more NDIS participants (although we’re still only about halfway into the projected 105,000 participants with six months to go), many providers registering for the first time and, of course, an activist Victorian Government, implementing a range of workforce and other disability/community mental health initiatives in the run-up to the recent state election.
During 2018, the Victorian sector has been influential in disability policy debates. While NDS has been pleased to witness the fruits of our advocacy in significant achievements for the sector, we know a great deal of effort, energy and innovative thinking is still required to make the NDIS work as intended.
We also know that, when we work together, our sector has the capacity to deliver change. This is evident from what’s been achieved in the past 12 months in Victoria.
We scaled up our Victorian NDIS Help Desk, taking it national, in order to assist providers across Australia with questions they might have about the NDIS.
We continued to negotiate, through Jobs Australia, with trade unions in the sector, on the development of a Multi-Employer Agreement in Victoria. These negotiations and discussions with government, will continue in 2019, with a view to ensuring the MEA’s delivery is supported by a structural adjustment fund.
NDS launched a new series of films on 'Safeguarding for Boards', building on the highly regarded NDS Zero Tolerance resources. In early June we held a well-attended and received Board Summit in Melbourne
We successfully advocated for amendments to the Long Service Benefits Portability Bill, to exempt work funded under the NDIS being within scope of the new Long Service Benefits scheme for the Community Service Sector.
Our Sector Development Project (SDP) delivered a range of sector transition supports for providers, including:
• Sector Support Consultants
• Readiness and Implementation Group, and CEO/Senior Leaders meetings across Victoria
• Our Sector Development Podcast
• Our NDIS News, which now has more than 3,500 subscribers.
In evaluating this project, the vast majority of you said that what you learnt through project initiatives would be sustainable post-NDIS implementation.
NDS is also undertaking a range of projects dedicated to growing the Victorian workforce so that, over time, the sector has an improved capacity to meet service demand. These projects are funded by the Victorian Government’s NDIS Workforce Action Plan.
NDS has been actively supporting providers in Victoria to understand the new Quality and Safeguarding Framework. In early December, we held a highly successful Quality and Safeguarding Workshop, with more than 90 attendees, including speakers from the NDIS Commission and the Victorian Disability Services Commission.
We've also been advocating on behalf of the sector and providers, through a wide range of Victorian Government Disability Advisory and Working Groups.
In 2019, this work will continue, and we’ll be increasingly developing materials and providing support for members to ensure you are able to have meaningful conversations with local politicians and candidates on the issues our sector cares about.
In this respect, the 2019 Federal Election presents another opportunity for NDS, working with and through our Victorian members, to advocate for realistic and economic NDIS prices. We will also advocate for better scheme planning; administration and processes; improvements to worker and participant transport; increasing employment opportunities for people with disability; breathing life into the National Disability Strategy; and many others issues focused on ensuring that people with disability get the quality services and supports they need from high quality, viable and innovative providers.
On the Victorian front, our sector will be engaging with the Royal Commission into Mental Health; implementation of the voluntary worker accreditation and registration scheme; implementation of the National Quality and Safeguarding Framework; the likely introduction of a Worker Screening Bill (not dissimilar to the NSW Bill on the same subject, which was publicly released in November); implementation of the Long Service Benefits Portability Act; and ensuring the State Disability Plan is continuing to deliver for all Victorians with disability.
The theme for our Victorian State Conference on 4-5 March 2019 is: From Obstacles to Opportunities. This theme reflects where our sector has come from and where it needs to go. In order to get there, there is a great deal of work still to be done. As your peak body, NDS wants to ensure that you are part of the conversation in 2019 and beyond.
NDS is keen to ensure that our work continues to reflect the expectations and requirements of our members. If you are not an NDS member, visit our membership page. In the New Year, NDS will be sending members a National Membership Survey to gather feedback on what we are currently delivering and some initiatives that we intend to roll out. Please take this opportunity to have your say – we are listening! Feedback from members will directly impact our work in 2019.
So, as you enjoy a break over summer (if you get a break) take a moment to reflect on what could be possible when we’re able to make the NDIS work as all Australians intended. And then let’s all come back and make it happen!
See you in 2019.