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Information on HACSU's political campaign to stop privatisation



Information for the community

Information for the community

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will change the way funding is directed to, and used by, people with disabilities. Rather than choosing a service provider who will deliver a pre-determined set of services, under the NDIS people with disabilities can use their funding to choose which providers to buy their support from. In principle, this is a fantastic idea, especially for people have to capacity to advocate for themselves. However, for those who need assistance to advocate and navigate the complex disability market, the NDIS model presents many challenges.

Our concerns for the NDIS

Politicians, both Labor and Liberal, are using the NDIS for political brownie points, promising a full roll-out on time and within budget, whilst ignoring the many issues facing the scheme. One of these issues is the low price set for funded personal supports, which must be able to cover all associated costs of supports including, administration fees and wages and conditions for the workforce. A report published by Curtin University in early September 2016 highlights the major challenges facing the sector. The report details how disability organisations are struggling under the roll out of the NDIS with most reporting low profit margins and struggling to survive in the competitive environment. Unfortunately, employers are responding to these low prices by driving down worker wages and conditions. It’s also driving the Victorian Government’s decision to divest itself of DHHS disability services.

The inadequate price, and the response from employers and the State Government, will undermine the NDIS as the system struggles to build and maintain a skilled, experienced and quality workforce.

People with disabilities will suffer too. Many of the people currently receiving public sector disability services live with profound cognitive disability and medical needs. The opportunity to live a fulfilling life relies on a skilled, experienced and quality workforce.

The disability workforce is undervalued, poorly recognised by governments and society more broadly. Partly this reflects social attitudes which see care work as something done in the home and behind closed doors, with the expectation that the work involved should be gifted freely and without fanfare by people, the vast majority of whom, are women. This undervaluation plays out in the form of low wages, limited career pathways and attraction and retention difficulties.

Employers still clearly believe this, with their representatives arguing in the Fair Work Commission Modern Award Review that the NDIS means wages and penalty rates need to be cut and shift lengths shortened to 15 minutes. They also want to further casualise the workforce and create more flexibility to ‘hire and fire’, ultimately increasing productivity and profits at the expense of workers conditions. The employers are also arguing that part timers should be more ‘flexible’  – these changes will mean that workers will effectively work as casuals but be employed as part timers. Meaning no minimum contracted hours of shift length and workers will not receive the 25 percent casual loading.

The choice and control principles of the NDIS are fantastic, however the threat this poses to the workforce will completely undermine the success of the NDIS. A successful NDIS for people with cognitive impairments and those who cannot advocate for themselves cannot exist without a highly skilled, qualified and experienced workforce.

With wages and conditions under threat, we cannot continue to build and maintain a skilled workforce.

Workers must become unionised, and build alliances with family groups and advocates in order to fight against the threats to the sector. This is not a matter simply pertaining to the workforce or people with disabilities, but an issue that should concern the entire Victorian community. 

What is the Andrews government doing?

The Andrews government is wiping their hands clean of all responsibility by privatising Victoria's public disability services.

The NDIS is complex, but it doesn’t mean the Victorian Government needs to privatise public disability services. In last week’s announcement that the Government will go ahead with an EOI process, they have claimed DHHS needs to transfer to the non-government sector to give choice to people with disabilities.  

This is an example of the government’s hollow spin. By privatising disability services, the Government is taking away our resident’s choice to continue receiving public disability services under the NDIS. Privatisation is the exact opposite of choice. 

5 quick facts about the NDIS and privatisation of Victorian Public Disability Services

The NDIS is complex, but it doesn't mean the Victorian Government needs to privatise public disability services. Here's five quick facts about the NDIS and the privatisation of public disability services.

FACT 1: It's not about choice.

Your Government has claimed that it needs to transfer public disability services to the non-government sector to give choice to people with disabilities. However, by privatising disability services, your Government is taking away people's choice to continue receiving public disability services under the NDIS. 
If this was really about choice, why is it the case that five group homes in Bendigo have been excised from the EOI process under the rationale that this decision is "consistent with Government's previous commitments to clients."? These five group homes house the former residents of the Sandhurst Centre, whom before the last election were promised by then-Opposition leader, Daniel Andrews, they  "will be able to choose whether they remain in state-run care or prefer private residential care."

If it's truly about choice, then why aren't all 2,500 DHHS clients being given the same choice?

FACT 2: It's not about the NDIS.

Under the NDIS more people than ever before will get access to disability services and these people will be able to choose which service provider they want to service their needs. Nothing in the NDIS Act, the Bilateral Agreement between Victoria and the Commonwealth, or the original Productivity Commission report says that the State Government cannot be a service provider under the NDIS.

There is no reason the State Government cannot continue providing services under the NDIS to the existing 2,500 DHHS clients and provide certainty of quality supports to their ageing loved ones.


FACT 3: Privatisation is about costs.

Under the NDIS, the Victorian Government will increase its annual expenditure on disability services from $1.2b to $2.5b per annum. This increase is to cover the costs of providing services to over 27,000 Victorians who previously had none. This should be a great Labor legacy, but it has nothing to do with the costs of running public disability services.

Currently, it costs $400m per annum to run Victoria's 506 group homes. Under the NDIS, service providers (public, private and not-for-profit) get revenue back from the NDIS for delivering services. However, because NDIS pricing is set too low, HACSU has been told by Senior Government Officials that Victoria would only get $330m per annum back from the NDIS if it remained a public service provider.

Rather than choice, this decision is all about saving $70m a year by abandoning the most vulnerable Victorian citizens and the dedicated workers who support them.

FACT 4: Cutting costs = cuts to wages and cuts to quality care.

Disability support is a labour-intensive industry, with approximately 80% of costs being used on labour. If you want to cut costs then your only option is to cut wages and if you cut wages you cut quality support.

If Andrews' privatises public disability services, workers wages and conditions will eventually fall to the level paid by the non-government sector. This is what that looks like:



Weekly Wages



Wage Cut

Support Worker (Cert IV)




Support Worker (Adv. Diploma)




House Supervisor




Area Manager







How you can get involved

HACSU and Family members meet with Premier

On May 20, HACSU members and families of DHHS disability residents, stood side by side at the ALP State Conference to demand a meeting with Premier Daniel Andrews to discuss the privatisation of Victorian public disability services.

On May 31st, seven family members met with Daniel Andrews to raise our concerns for the future of the disability sector. Unfortunately, the Premier did not commit to giving residents the choice to remain with public services, however, has committed to further meetings.

We would like to congratulate all the members who turned out to the event at the ALP State Conference to join the action. We also would like to congratulate the following family members for their efforts in this campaign and for standing up to the Premier, L-R

Roslyn Fitton, Mark Farthing (HACSU official), Bruce McBroom, Leo Waterfall, Patti Bradbury, Brian Beecham, Phil Lipshut, Lloyd Williams (HACSU State Secretary) and Deb Johnson.

The above families submitted a letter to Andrews, which can be read here