Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, May 2023
In Victoria, the NDS team have been busy working to support members on the issues of group pricing, workforce, occupational violence, and health and mental health interface. We are also monitoring the progress of the Social Services Amendment Bill 2022 through the Victorian Parliament.
NDS is working to ensure that members are well-prepared for the deluge of change and reform expected to come later this year. We are reaching out to members to inform our advocacy to the NDIS Review, while our NDS’s Royal Commission Hub is a valuable source of information and analysis on key directions from the Royal Commission. Our national Communities of Practice and range of Victorian network meetings all provide opportunities for engagement with others and discussion of emerging directions and issues.
In recent months a key focus for the NDS Victoria team has been supporting members with the transition to the new group prices. The NDIA has recently announced a six-month extension for the transition, with the deadline now on 31 December. They have also released news of an expansion of the program of group-based supports and improved guidance on non-face-to-face charging. This is a key issue for Victorian day services, since a significant number of providers have yet to transition.
We have also continued our work on the disability workforce, with a series of seminars giving practice advice and insight to providers, who continue to face widespread workforce shortages. Given the impact of the Check process delays on workforce recruitment, we expect our upcoming NDIS Worker Screening Checks Information Session will be popular. We are also holding a session on Leading to Address Workforce Retention Issues with information specifically for senior leaders. Finally, we are promoting a couple of ‘earn and learn’ worker training projects funded by government and offering opportunities for employers.
Addressing occupational violence is another current focus, with a series of Deep Dive sessions underway and an in-person event coming up on 22 June for Behaviour Support Practitioners on Supporting the Successful Implementation of Behaviour Support plans. This project promotes the importance of supporting worker wellbeing and the links between person-centred practice, high-quality support provision and building a safer working environment. Recent reports such as the Own Motion Inquiry into Aspects of Supported Accommodation in the NDIS have highlighted the vital role Practice Leadership plays in supporting workers at the frontline. The ongoing focus of the project is how we can all work together to ensure that the support we deliver is high-quality and keeps everybody safe.
NDS continues to address the health needs and concerns identified by members. This includes ongoing work with the Victorian Disability and Palliative Care Advisory Group to find useful tools for support workers and line managers to identify the end-of-life phase early. The tool should allow them to support individuals, their families' co-residents and workers as they go through this difficult time. Pilot testing of the sector-developed tool will commence in June to ensure it can meet the needs identified.
We are also speaking to the NDIA about the barriers members have identified in getting urgent and timely plan reviews for additional levels of care for in-home and residential settings palliative care. Our advocacy concentrated on the health–disability intersect between state and federal governments. We also looked at early indicators to increase risk management when COVID-19 community transmission increases and clearer identification of funded health services and supports for workers to support individuals manage existing or emerging health needs.
Mental health system reforms in Victoria are occurring on multiple levels, with NDS engaged in several key working groups and undertaking two projects to ensure that member-identified concerns about supporting people with disabilities with co-occurring mental health needs are included. To address the barriers and knowledge gaps, NDS is engaging in partnership with local providers, people with disabilities and targeted providers Over the next two years, NDS will be working in partnership with VALID to focus on practical system improvements in three targeted mental health service regions, recognising the importance of the disability and mental health sectors’ intersecting needs. Disability providers, people with disabilities and metal health sector representatives will be invited to work together as part of this new funding focus.
The Disability and Social Services Amendment Bill 2022 is currently before state parliament with further amendments made since the last update. NDS has been consulted on various aspects of legislative change covered in this long and complex legislative amendment process, and we support much of the intent of the legislation. However, we have expressed concern about the complexity of Victoria’s safeguarding framework and its poor alignment – in parts – with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards framework, and the potential for confusion from the mix of state and federal compliance requirements.
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Addressing Occupational Violence in the Disability Sector: Building Support Worker Capability
Date: Monday, 22 May 2023
Victorian Health and Safety Representatives Network
Date: Wednesday, 31 May
Supporting the Successful Implementation of Behaviour Support Plans
Date: Thursday, 22 June
Location: Jasper Hotel, 489 Elizabeth St, Melbourne, Victoria