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Tasmania in Focus by Lizzie Castles, June 2024

Tasmania in Focus by Lizzie Castles, State Manager Tas


May got off to a busy start with the sold-out state conference. The Hon. Jo Palmer MLC, Minister for Disability Services, opened the conference and reported that consultation on the draft Disability Inclusion and Safeguarding Bill, had brought varied feedback, which the state government had been working hard to incorporate into the final Bill. The Bill will likely be tabled in July.  

The Minister acknowledged there is significant anxiety in the sector, due to the overwhelming number of reforms, both local and national, and she thanked NDS for our ongoing advocacy for the sector.  

Expert in governance and organisational strategy Alan Hough spoke about the importance of building quality and safeguarding into disability service provision. In his keynote address, “Amateur hour is over”, he challenged us to not just sit and wait for DRC recommendations to be accepted but be proactive in managing safeguarding. He echoed champion of health communication Sir Liam Donaldson: “To err is human, to cover up is unforgivable.”  

It was wonderful to see so many of you at the conference and to hear about issues that are important to you. We will continue to provide updates on the changes discussed on the day, including the Tasmanian issues, such as the National Preventive Mechanism, the Child Youth and Safe Organisations Framework (CYSOF) and the new Disability Inclusion and Safeguards Bill.  

Tasmanian advocacy 

NDS is seeking clarity from the state and federal governments on the progress of the Foundational Support Strategy. We have offered to open opportunities for providers to engage with the state government. We believe that providers can give valuable assistance to government in mapping service delivery and contributing to planning an ideal state. We are also advocating for a structural adjustment fund to assist services that may no longer be financially viable but may be required as part of a Foundation Support Strategy.   

Our work continues with Homes Tas, who will commence the process of registering their SDA stock, but due the significant volume of stock and limited access to SDA assessors in Tasmania, this may take some time.       

Chair of Tasmania NDS Divisional Committee, Nigel Hill, and I recently met the Shadow Minister for Disability, Ella Haddad. We discussed a variety of sector issues, including the coming tsunami of reform and the lack of clarity about the timing of the state and federal government responses to the DRC and NDIS Review recommendations. We spoke at length about the workforce shortages unique to Tasmania and the opportunities to influence disability policy positively.  

Listening to members 

I have been hearing of numerous instances of reduced participant budgets; in particular, staffing ratios moving to 1:3 and funding for disability-related health supports being cut. In the recent NDIA Tasmania Roadshow, the Agency reiterated “The plan is the plan and the budget is the budget”, which was frustrating for providers to hear. The Agency’s advice was to use step down funding. However, they also noted that the Agency is responsible for allocating step-down funding into plans.             

NDS has been a steering group member on a project managed by Laurel House, developing resources to promote conversations about consent and sex.  The ‘Tell me about it’ resources, will be launched at numerous events across the state in June  

Emergency preparedness 

For providers in the Greater Hobart area, please consider registering for the  Scenario discussion exercise on Monday 17 June. Hosted by State Emergency Services and Tasmanian Fire Services, this is an opportunity to test and refine your organisation’s emergency preparedness plan. This event is linked to a project NDS is collaborating on, the ‘People with Disability Emergency Preparedness project’. This will see people with disability participate in their own disaster preparedness. If your organisation would like information about this project, or would like to have a PCEP facilitator work with some of your clients, please let me know.        

Pathways from school to work 

A pilot of the Pathways from School to Work project will launch in September. In it, trained Pathways Mentors will share their lived experience of jobseeking with disability with young people with disability, their parents and carers, and participating schools and employers. To build foundations for their future pathways into work, the young people will have a chance to learn from someone who “gets it”. Participating schools and employers will gain the benefit of the Pathway Mentors’ expertise, evidence-based best practices, lived experience tips and tricks, and hands-on practice for supporting disability employment pathways. 

With mentor recruitment well underway, the project is now seeking employers of all types and sizes to join the pilot. Co-designed with mainstream employers, it’s a great opportunity for any Tasmanian employer to level up their workplace inclusion skills. Interested? Contact the Senior Project Officer, Roen Meijers to learn more:  submit enquiry/feedback 

Contact information
Lizzie Castles, State Manager Tasmania, 03 6212 7300, submit enquiry/feedback