Fiona's Focus: Let's Talk Workforce
Welcome to the February edition of the Victorian NDIS News. This month, we have a focus on Workforce with the inclusion of two articles from NDS’s Disability Workforce Connectors about innovative approaches to addressing workforce needs. This builds on the excellent article Anthea Gellie wrote for the January edition on NDS disability workforce resources.
The rollout of the NDIS brings about more choice in what, and how services are made available. This means workforce numbers need to increase as well as finding new ways of working. The sector needs more skilled people to join the workforce now, and to plan for the future to ensure there is adequate number of people with the right skills to meet demand. Last year the Victorian government estimated that Australia-wide there was currently 93,000 people in the workforce (FTE) with the need set to rise to 189,000 by 2023.
Presently, workforce shortages continue to be a major concern throughout Victoria, with the most severe impacts in regional areas. Service providers are reporting problems recruiting all types of disability workers with allied health professionals, the most difficult to recruit and retain. Service providers are worried about their long and increasing waiting lists for services. They often talk about not being able to take more clients because of their inability to recruit staff to provide the services.
We are hearing increasing concerns about the thin markets in regional locations. Recent analysis and data collection undertaken by the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) indicates emerging thin markets in many smaller regional towns, especially those with under 10,000 population. This affirms the anecdotal information gained by the NDS Workforce Connectors working in regional Victoria. The VHA work highlights that many health services, including community health centres and regional hospitals, are not able to make NDIS service provision financially viable, and against a backdrop of wider deficits, are considering withdrawing from provision of NDIS services. NDIS funding and registration requirements are complex. In many areas, these health services are one of very few providers, and their potential withdrawal is of real concern. We have identified a need for governments to consider structural interventions to ensure the needs of people with disability living in rural areas can be met.
Speaking of regional areas, NDS is bringing a one-day forum to multiple locations in regional Victoria which will address preparing for NDIS Quality and Safeguards audits, including an update from the NDIA Provider and Markets team, and conclude with a Roundtable Discussion focussed on sharing positive approaches to address local challenges when operating in the NDIS environment. Here is the registration link and dates: Swan Hill - 4 March, Mildura - 5 March, Bairnsdale - 11 March, Traralgon -12 March, Warrnambool -18 March, Ballarat - 19 March, Bendigo - 25 March, and Shepparton - 26 March.
NDS is also rolling out the popular Effective Workforce Practices within an NDIS Environment across regional Victoria in coming weeks. This is presented by Yumi Stamet in conjunction with our Regional Workforce Connectors and will provide lots of practical information and strategies for improving staff retention and satisfaction, deepening understanding of workforce dynamics and capitalising on being a purpose driven organisation. Register here to attend.
And that is a workforce wrap. I hope you find this workforce focused edition of NDIS News insightful and I encourage you to make the most of the NDS workforce support and resources available.See you next month,