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Disability Strategy Day 2024

2024-05-16

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On May 2, HACSU members in disability came together to talk about the major changes taking place in our sector and the future of Victoria’s disability workforce.

With the final reports released for both the NDIS Review and the Disability Royal Commission, as well as a raft of new industrial relations laws impacting disability workers, it’s clear that the next few years will see a major transformation in disability services across Australia. 

With HACSU members representing a broad range of the disability workforce from government transferred services to Hireup contractors, we focused on three major issues: the need for mandatory provider and worker registration, the proposed changes to group home services, and the future of bargaining in disability

You can read our summary of the NDIS Review here, our response to the Royal Commission here, and a breakdown of Closing the Loopholes legislation here.

Support Disability Support Workers: why we need mandatory registration

It’s clear that there’s a major lack of oversight under the NDIS and a desperate need for a national, mandatory registration scheme — both for employers and for workers.

At our Strategy Day, HACSU members spoke about their frustration at the lack of proper training and professional development for workers. Too often, the training provided by employers is not recognised by other employers, is done mostly online and in workers’ own time. A standardised accreditation system under a national registration scheme would ensure that all training is recognised, fit-for-purpose, and allows for genuine development pathways.

Another big topic continues to be the difficulty and delays involved in current NDIS worker screening and the current non-mandatory worker registration scheme. A national mandatory worker registration could help to harmonise the current system and simplify screening by tiering registration relative to risk.

Registration is a great opportunity to help disability workers to be recognised as the skilled professionals that we are. To learn more about our push for registration and to sign the HSU petition to lift quality and safeguards and end worker exploitation — go to SDSW.com.au.

Click the image above for a print-ready version of this poster.

The future of group homes

Both the NDIS Review and the Royal Commission have recommended sweeping changes to group homes — with the Royal Commission recommending complete abolition over a 15 year period or generational timeframe. Even the NDIS Review’s more moderate proposal of funding SIL to 1:3, with a view to reduce bedroom count unless exceptional, would have a major impact on HACSU members.

Already, we know that fewer and fewer participants are being referred to group homes. With the likely shift to reduced numbers of residents, HACSU members shared their concerns about the impact on residents who may have reduced real supports and lose social connections. Members also identified the staff impacts on leadership, supervision, and oversight for workers, along with the undermining of staff-family relationships.

Looking to the future, we need to ensure that any changes to group home regulation maintains choice and control for participants who benefit from a group home environment — as well as maintaining worker safety, stability, and support.

What’s next in bargaining?

2026 marks the end of the eight year period of protected wages, terms, and conditions for workers in government transferred disability services (DSEAV). We spoke about how we can keep pushing for fair wages and better conditions in a post-DSEAV world. 

HACSU members also spoke about their bargaining priorities across the whole sector for the next five years in disability, including:

  • Pushing back on casualisation
  • Secure rostering 
  • Workload and administration protections
  • Better access to supervision and training
  • Stronger protections against bullying and OVA
  • Minimum ratios
  • Fixing classifications and sleepover standards

There are also opportunities with new forms of bargaining such as the Fair Work Commission’s Supported Bargaining stream, which allows us to bring the funder to the table in bargaining — you can read more about that here.

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With the upcoming changes and potential instability in the disability sector, it’s never been more important to become a HACSU member. The more members in your workplace, the more power we have to push back against employers and fight to fix the NDIS. Encourage your colleagues to join HACSU today, and together we’ll fight for better wages, better conditions, and a brighter future for all disability workers in Victoria!