The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was heralded as a once in a generation reform. It promised to empower people with disability in the development of personal goals, and the planning, engagement, and delivery of supports – the central tenet being the rights of NDIS participants to exercise choice and control in these areas.
The NDIS was supported by people with disability, family members, the union movement, and the community broadly. There was much hope that this would change the lives of the 4.3 million Australians living with a disability. However, 6 years since its introduction, there are fears that NDIS funding cuts are threatening to destroy its core values.
In its latest report to the Federal Government, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) which implements that NDIS reported that funding to the average support plan was reduced by 3.8%. Concerningly, 34% of NDIS participants have had their plans cut by over 5%. At the same time requests by NDIS participants to challenge funding cuts increase by a staggering 400%.
For many NDIS participants, the NDIA’s rationale for cutting NDIS funds has been that the support being provided no longer represented “value for money”. That’s it. No further explanation or assistance provided.
Compounded by cost of living increases, these funding cuts are placing huge pressure on NDIS participants to find ways to source cheaper support services. As a result, we see the ‘uberisation’ of care and the proliferation of online platforms where contract ABN care workers are promoted. Most of these workers aren’t paid award rates, don’t have access to paid leave, and very concerningly aren’t covered for workers compensation.
Further on the industrial front, the reduction in funding has had an immediate impact on the broader workforce. HSU members have reported that they have been asked to reduce their hours of work. Others have been asked to change their classifications to reflect the apparent reduction in complexity of a client’s needs. It’s important to note that workers have rights, that changes like these must be agreed to and cannot be unilaterally imposed. If you or your colleagues are concerned about proposed changes in your workplace, contact your local HSU workplace delegate or our HSU Member Services on 1300 478 679.
These cuts are bad for NDIS participants. They are bad for the disability workforce. That’s why the union movement has again joined with people with disability to defend the NDIS. In late April, a National Day of Action was held to call on any future federal government to address the concerns of people with disability about the erosion of their rights and the cuts to the NDIS.
If you’d like to get involved in defending the NDIS, contact your local HSU workplace delegate or email [E-Mail not displayed].