Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, November 2022
Pleasingly, the NDS State of the Sector Report 2022 released at our recent CEO Conference highlighted elements of optimism amongst sector leaders as we all continue to operate in challenging conditions. This positive outlook and the energy evident at the Conference is welcome as the disability sector continues to operate in the face of recent floods, rising COVID-19 cases and ongoing significant workforce pressures. Acknowledging the critical role of leaders at this time, I am particularly looking forward to hearing insights from two Victorian CEOs who have recently completed Harvard fellowships presenting at our session on 7 December.
The NDS team in Victoria continues to listen, support and advocate on behalf of the sector whilst working closely with national colleagues contributing to NDS advocacy and responding to the numerous government reviews relevant to our sector.
COVID-19 cases have increased across Australia, with Victorian average daily case numbers doubling throughout mid-November. This highlights the continuing risk of COVID-19 transmission and the need for infection prevention and outbreak plans. Disability providers should review the updated government guidance about worker and visitor isolation and vaccination for disability settings.
Disability services will also need to change their COVID-19 risk management strategies to reflect the recent shifting of more responsibilities for risk mitigation onto service providers. NDS recently ran a session, Moving forward with COVID-19 Risk Mitigation, with presentations from the Australian Department of Health, WorkPlacePLUS, and Holman Webb Lawyers. If you missed it, a recording of the session will soon be on our website.
The federal government has initiated a series of reviews relevant to our sector, which is keeping us all busy. Top of the list is the NDIS Review, with a clear message that the Review Panel is interested in hearing of your issues and examples for reform. There is also review of the Disability Services Act, a review of the Culture and capability of the NDIA, a review of SDA prices, and an NDIS General Issues Inquiry, and of course, the Disability Royal Commission continues with its hearings and insights.
Confirmation of another Labor government in Victoria provides us with some clarity about upcoming policy directions, with expected progress of a new Disability Inclusion Bill and the Disability Amendment Bill. Other policy developments relevant to Victorian disability service providers include:
- In mid-October, the Victorian Government introduced new requirements for Supported Independent Living providers to report deaths of Specialist Disability Accommodation residents to the Victorian Coroners Court. See our news update.
- Victorian service providers who operate buses for participants have been raising concerns about the regulatory burden of new accreditation requirements. We recently held a scoping session with Safe Transport Victoria and several providers to identify pain points and strategies to reduce the impact of the new scheme on the viability of bus services. NDS is advocating for exemptions from fees and requirements associated with attaining special number plates and welcomes any comments or case studies to inform our advocacy.
- A new Social Services Jobs Guarantee will link new graduates of the Diploma of Community Services to jobs in the disability sector. Employers will have access to a pool of suitable graduates, be able to promote job vacancies, and receive assistance from Jobs Victoria in recruitment. Up to $20,000 in funding per student will assist employers with onboarding, supervision and training costs. We encourage providers with workforce challenges to complete a quick Employer Expression of Interest Form.
- NDS has welcomed new Fair Conduct and Accountability Standards to promote the fair treatment of gig workers by on-demand platforms in Victoria. The Standards cover pay and conditions, consultation, the right to representation, dispute resolution, and safety. The Standards will initially be voluntary when introduced in the first quarter of 2023, with the Government planning to introduce laws later next year to ensure compliance with the Standards.
- NDS continues to work with the RMIT Workforce Innovation and Development Institute (WIDI) on the Skills in Practice Project, which matches disability providers with suitable workers through government-funded and talent agency-supported recruitment. Once they are recruited, the project’s innovative earn-and-learn model takes them through a 12-month traineeship, with funded training in a Certificate III or IV at RMIT while they work in their new job. NDS is connecting Victorian members into the project. For further information, please email Louise Hillman: submit enquiry/feedback
- Our Workforce team has been busy delivering on commitments under our Workforce Retention Project. We recently ran two successful interactive sessions on ‘How Diversity Aids Retention’ and ‘Rostering for Retention’. Recordings of these sessions will be made available on our website. We also still have a few workforce-related engagement opportunities to come in 2022, including our Victorian Workforce Network Meeting on 8 December and our Allied Health Workforce Network Meeting on 13 December. We look forward to seeing you there.
CEOs Meeting 2022
I thoroughly enjoyed my recent trip to Sydney for the CEO’s Meeting 2022, which explored The Basics for Brilliance.
I found the Thought Leadership Roundtable on the NDIS Review particularly valuable. Led by guest speakers Professor Bruce Bonyhady and Lisa Paul AO PSM, Co-Chairs of the Independent Review of the NDIS, the in-depth session considered the future of the NDIS in light of this important opportunity to shape the scheme. The event also featured thought-provoking keynotes, including an address from the Minister for the NDIS, the Hon. Bill Shorten MP.
This was the first NDS CEOs Meeting to take place in-person since the pandemic, and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with members, colleagues and other stakeholders. The Victorian NDS team has enjoyed getting out to visit members in recent months, and I look forward to connecting with service providers throughout the rest of 2022 and beyond.
Paid fellowships for non-profit CEOs at Harvard Business School
- CEOs from the Victorian community service sector can apply for one of three spots to attend the Harvard Club of Victoria’s Non-Profit Fellowship Program. Applications open on 3 December and close on 3 February 2023, with the Fellowship Program scheduled to take place in mid-July 2023.
- CEOs from NDS member organisations have received the Fellowship in previous years and found the experience enriching and engaging. NDS is holding an online information session on 7 December (5:00pm to 6:00pm), where Toni Stewart of Focuslife and Terry Symonds of Yooralla will talk about their experience with the program.
Stepping Into Internships
- The Australian Network on Disability is seeking university students and graduates with disability for their Stepping into Internship program. Successful applicants will be hosted as a paid intern.
End of life for people with intellectual disability: We can help or harm
- In this free online seminar, Michele Wiese and Roger Stancliffe will explore engaging with people with intellectual disability at the end of their life and share practice examples, case studies and strategies.
New Zero Tolerance Films
NDS has expanded its extremely popular swathe of Zero Tolerance resources, with new online films centring on preventing abuse and avoiding risks. The films will start the conversation in your organisation about understanding restriction and power, and ways to do things differently.
Changing Places and Universal Design Grants
The Victorian Government has given $3 million to expand the network of Changing Places, which are public toilets for people with high support needs.
27 organisations will receive Universal Design Grants to help make programs and services accessible to as many people as possible, inclusive of age, disability, gender identity, culture, and language.
Sign up for the NDS Victoria eNewsletter
If you are not receiving the NDS News Victoria eNewsletter, I encourage you to subscribe. It is sent to you each month to keep you up to date with the latest issues, events and insights into the disability sector in Victoria.