United Voice, the union for disability workers, welcomes the transition for Western Australians into the Federal National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) on Sunday July 1st, however knows there are still issues to overcome.
Disability support workers, many of whom work with people with high level and complex needs in residential care homes, have long campaigned for certainty for people with disabilities, families and workers in the sector.
United Voice WA Secretary Carolyn Smith said the transition will be a significant change for a lot of West Australian families.
“West Australians have been preparing for this since it was announced last year, it is the biggest social reform since Medicare and so it brings excitement as well as concern,”
“Members have fought for years for significant reform in the disability sector however they’ve watched the East Coast roll-out and remain concerned about WA.”
Issues surrounding the NDIS include the rapid growth of the sector, the sustainability of livable wages for workers, and the potential risk such factors place on quality of care for people with disabilities.
“Under the NDIS pricing scheme, there is downward pressure placed on support worker wages. This will intensify the existing workforce problems of job churn, limited career path options, and lack of training and development.”
“Once the NDIS is fully rolled out there will be half a million participants and tens of thousands of new workers needed.”
Ms Smith said the NDIS needs to ensure that service providers are able to employ and maintain workers who are qualified and skilled, especially for people with complex and multiple needs.
“These are individuals who cannot advocate for themselves, and rely on their families and their support workers to ensure they are receiving quality services and support,”
“This particular part of the sector is highly vulnerable to the workforce issues and quality care issues that arise from underfunding.”
“It is critical that we have a quality workforce who receives the wages, secure working conditions, and training that reflects the important work they do.”
In May, the McGowan State Government released an additional $20.3 million in funding to ensure a smoother transition. Ms Smith said the Government now has a responsibility to ensure the funding is going to the right place.
“While the additional funding will be helpful, it is crucial that this funding goes to the places and people who need it most.”
“The Government has a responsibility to ensuring all West Australians have the best NDIS system and we will hold them to account”.