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Child protection system not fit for First Nations families

Themes included gaps between legislation and practice, the impact of parental assessments, and First Nations decision-making.
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News update

Vale John Morkham

NDS was saddened to learn of the recent passing of friend and colleague, John Morkham. John was a leading contributor to the campaign to create a nationally-focused peak body.

Fiona's Focus: NDS sector support available in 2020

Photo of Fiona Still smiling alongside text reading 'Fiona's Focus'


Welcome to 2020. I hope you had time to catch up with family and friends as another busy year is ready to unfold. My thoughts go out to all those both directly and indirectly impacted by the bushfires and related heat issues throughout the state. NDS has developed a Bushfire Hub that links to useful information and resources. 

To begin the year I have highlighted some key data for Victoria from the last NDIS Quarterly Report from September 2019 to show where Victoria is at in the transition of people into the NDIS funding environment. The State is currently on target to have all DHHS clients transitioned by the end of March 2020. Here are some key statistics:

Providers and Markets

  • There were 4,578 active providers as at 30 September 2019
  • 37% of active providers are individuals/sole traders
  • 25% of active providers are receiving 85-95% of payments to providers made by the NDIA

NDIA Participants

  • There were 7,852 additional active participants with approved plans this quarter
  • 84,049 participants are being supported by the NDIS in (81% of bilateral target)
  • 26% of participants were receiving funded support for the first time

Plan Management and Support Coordination

  • 34% of participants fully or partly self-manage their plan
  • 44% of participants who have had a plan approved in 2019-20 Q1 have support coordination in their plan

Last year some of the key issues and emerging themes were:

Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

The Disability Royal Commission has now commenced, and it will have a major and widespread impact on the disability sector. NDS is providing regular updates on all developments to members; and service providers are now actively reviewing and preparing documentation in preparation for the Commission. 

Victorian regulatory requirements

There have been some major and minor changes to the Victorian regulatory landscape in 2019 that included:

Changes to the Disability Act, which included changes to allow for the transition to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Transition to the National Quality and Safeguarding Framework

Victorian disability services have transitioned to the National Quality and Safeguarding Framework, the new quality practice standards and the jurisdiction of NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. There are transition challenges, especially the time-consuming process via the portal for reporting incidents. Ongoing concerns remain about the misalignment between funding in NDIA plans and compliance obligations under the NDIS Commission.

Disability Workforce Shortages 

A key concern at present from the NDS policy perspective in Victoria continues to be the worsening crisis with the disability workforce, as alarming reports of workforce shortages continue across the board. The most severe shortages are in regional areas where service providers are reporting problems recruiting all types of disability workers with allied health professionals, who are the most difficult to recruit and retain. 

Psychosocial Disability and Dual Disability

Key issues impacting support provision for people with psychosocial or dual disability needs: 

  • A large number of the highly-skilled, experienced psychosocial disability workforce have exited the sector. This has resulted in a largely under-skilled psychosocial workforce under the NDIS who urgently require training and upskilling. 
  • Victorian NDS member providers working in the dual disability and psychosocial disability space are noting an increase in behaviours of concern since transitioning to the NDIS. They also note a lack of workforce capacity in supporting people with dual disability, especially for people living with an intellectual disability/autism and a psychosocial disability, and the lack of training available for professionals working in dual disability. 
  • Thin markets for providers of psychosocial supports. 
  • The focus on individualised supports and billable hours leaves providers with much less capacity to build rapport and trust with people with a psychosocial disability, resulting in a greater inclination for people to disengage with the NDIS workforce after transitioning from community mental health programs. 

2020: What support is available to the Sector in the coming six months?

NDS has a range of funding initiatives through the Victorian government that will continue until the end on June 2020.

Regional Disability Workforce Connectors

The Regional Workforce Connector's role is to listen to a broad range of local stakeholders and to capture issues and contributing factors to workforce in the disability sector. The team work on local solutions, as well as assisting in accessing funding grants, offering workforce tools and resources and increasing relevant workforce data to discover what organisations are finding does and doesn't work for them in the current environment. The Regional Workforce Connectors are working to find local solutions to attracting, recruiting and retaining disability support workers and allied health professionals, complexity allied health assistant roles, finding training for both direct support staff and emerging leaders. They have also identified challenges in finding fit-for-purpose ICT systems and a lack of strategic workforce planning and management data and capability. 

Specialist Disability Accommodation Project

There will be three more forums addressing the complex SDA environment and the development of resources to assist providers.

Workforce Promotion

This new project builds on the Jobs Fairs project and will see promotion of the broad opportunities for employment in the disability sector at a range of regional and metropolitan career and job expos. 

Sector Transition Project

We will continue to provide a broad range of subsidised Learning and Development offerings, including Lean Thinking, Emerging Leaders and Candid Conversations; NDIS operational workshops targeting NDIS Quality and Safeguards Requirements and the role of Intermediaries. Popular Communities of Practice will also continue, we will host a Workforce Workshop, and we will release some new episodes in the popular podcast series.

Zero Tolerance initiative

The Practice Support Network will continue with metropolitan and regional Communities of Practice, and release the Trauma Informed Support Animation series of films in February. These will be followed later in the year by the Positive Behaviour Support suite of films and another interactive PDF guide for practice leaders.

So, as you can see, it is a busy year ahead! We look forward to engaging with you all in person, via teleconference, on the road or through our many communications like this one.

Fiona Still

NDS Victoria Manager

Contact information
Fiona Still, State Manager VIC, 03 8341 4312,