Thursday, April 26 2012
Around half the group homes in Victoria are fully and directly operated by the Department of Human Services, Disability Services, (DHS/DS), Victoria, with their directly employed public service management and direct care staff.
The other half of the group homes, throughout the state, are operated by non-government/not-for-profit, CSOs (Community Service Organisations), most of which are members of NDS (National Disability Services).
Funding for both cultures is ‘state government bulk funding – general revenue’, provided directly to the DHS by the state government. And, by government decree, the regulation of both cultures is by the DHS. This government department has, therefore, despotic and very direct and indirect control over the lives of almost all people with a disability, and their families, in Victoria.
With the DHS having total control of everything for people with a disability and their families throughout the state, they are able to adjust the funding and regulation to suit themselves – And they do!
This government department ensures its own direct care services are more than fully funded, and that its staff have few work value expectations set on them. Whereas, this department under-funds, over-regulates and makes life difficult for the CSOs.
These practices ensure the families of the residents of DHS group home need to do nothing in support of their family member, and they pay less, in comparison with CSO services who are forced to pay their staff less, and have to fund-raise.
DHS services are, therefore, often more attractive to families looking to pay less, and have what they see as government security of tenure for their family member.
The trade-off is, inconsistency of care, especially quality of life care. As government departments are unable to set, monitor and maintain, effective and consistent, work-value expectations on their public service management and staff, to ensure care services are within the direction, intention and sprit of departmental care policies, standards and values, and within community expectations.
DHS see their direct care services as ‘lucky to have’. They do not see their services as the consumer having an ‘entitlement to services’. So they feel entitled to treat the consumer however they like. With the consumers expected to consider themselves as lucky to get anything, feel eternally grateful and never, ever, complain or question the actions of the department.
Whereas, the primary intention of the NDIS is that of providing the funding for more services, and that all services shall be ‘entitlement services’, where the consumer is valued, and is provided with real and meaningful customer service.
Thursday, April 19 2012
Entitlement is 'the' key factor of the NDIS principle! People with a disability need an entitlement to services, not the present 'stand-in-line' for a possible charity hand-out. But Mr Hockey says entitlements are a millstone around the neck of goverment.
"It is ironic that entitlement system seems most obvious and prevalent in some of the most democratic societies. Most undemocratic nations are simply unable to afford the largesse of universal entitlement systems.
So, ultimately the fiscal impact of popular programs must be brought to account no matter what the political values of the government are or how ppular a spending program may be", said Mr Hockey.
Full Story LINK
LISA Comment: Clearly, Mr Hockey needs to be convinced of the popularity of NDIS, and how the funding will be found given, there are many others seeking government funding, such as, for dental, education, health environment, etc, etc.
Wednesday, April 18 2012
Wes Hosking, Herald Sun, Melbourne, April 18, 2012
A boy, 3, and his mum were berated for sitting in a train's special-needs seats because he didn't appear to be disabled.
Brooke Stein was reduced to tears after an elderly woman began ranting at her and son Alex, whose disabilities include cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
The woman even told other passengers on the city-bound service from Warrnanbool last month that the pair were in the wrong spot and wouldn't move.
"I was just dumbfounded," Ms Stein said. "I physically couldn't look at her, I was so upset. "I have never come across it before in my life and I did not expect I would."
A disability group and V/Line have pleaded for greater understanding, amid reports of special-needs passengers being given the cold shoulder simply for using areas they are entitled to use.
The Grovedale mother and her son boarded the train at Marshall station in Geelong. They were on the way to an appointment at the Royal Children's Hospital.
They are entitled to use special-access areas on pub¬lic transport because Alex has seizures and can be difficult to control.
"You may not see it, but he can be a danger to himself and to other passengers," Ms Stein said.
"Trains get so busy. There are a lot of people on them now, and you need that space to be able to sit with him," she said.
Scope chief executive officer Jennifer Fitzgerald, who has seen commuters with special needs given hostile looks, said disability wasn't always physical.
"It can be sensory. It can be intellectual," she said.
Australia was a signatory to a United Nations convention on rights for people with a disability, and special-access areas were part of a state government commitment to provide accessible public transport, she said.
V/Line said it was disappointed in how Ms Stein and Alex had been treated. "All our passengers, without exception, have the right to be treated fairly and equally on our trains and at our stations," a spokesman said.
Designated access areas were on all trains, and passengers were encouraged to call a conductor if they needed help.
LISA Comment: To be fair to the public, they find it difficult when the person, especially a child, is very normal looking.
Parents with children or young adults with autism, often suffer as the public see this very normal, indeed, good looking child with bad behaviours.
The public see the mother as not properly controlling the child .... This can be a nightmare for mothers!
Monday, April 16 2012
Today’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has reaffirmed the commitment of all governments to a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). COAG released the set of high level principles, to guide the reform process.
The next phase of work will focus on eligibility for support through an NDIS, portability of entitlements and funding.
COAG also released a progress report on work to date. This outlines some of the challenges we all face in working to build an NDIS together. We look forward to discussing this work with you over the coming months.
You can view the full Communiqué on the COAG website (see LINK below).
On Wednesday I gave a speech to the Grattan Institute in Melbourne ‘Rebuilding from the Ground Up ? A National Disability Insurance Scheme’ (see LINK below).
It was a great opportunity to set out the massive change we are seeking to make to how we support people with disability, their families and carers.
The insurance approach is a revolutionary idea for disability, one that I think will fundamentally change how the system works, to make it work for people with disability, their families and carers.
After the speech, I was pleased to respond to questions from the 200-strong audience including people with disability, their advocates, workers and carers.
These conversations showed the level of interest in and support for an NDIS across the Australian community and affirmed our commitment to engaging closely with people with disability to develop and implement an NDIS.
We're also getting on with the job of delivering right now for people with disability.
On Tuesday last week Senator Jan McLucas joined the Prime Minister to announce the 21 successful organisations which will be funded by the Government through the Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund. Twenty-seven projects will be constructed across the country.
These organisations will share $60 million in funding to build 169 supported accommodation and respite places by June 2014.
The funding will provide people with disability access to a much needed supported accommodation that is designed to be innovative and responsive to their individual needs. Projects will serve as models for the future as we work towards an NDIS.
Jenny Macklin and Jan McLucas
To View full COAG Communique
Rebuilding from the Ground Up-A National Disability Insurance Scheme’.
Monday, April 16 2012
People with an intellectual or multiple disability, very vulnerable people, are potentially at greater risk where their direct care staff are government employees. As government employees, public servants, have relatively and traditionally safe employment.
The following scenario, a true story, illustrates the difference between the public sector and the not for profit sector, in this regard.
A group of people with very high support-needs was taken in their group home bus, from their non-government, community service organisation , group home, to a beach around 20 Kilometres away.
The driver subsequently lost the vehicle keys on the beach. Neither of the two staff had a mobile phone. So the driver had to ask a nearby resident to use their telephone to call the group home for the spare set of keys.
Fortunately, there was a staff member at the house, but had no vehicle. So police were requested to help get the spare keys to the beach as quickly as possible.
Nevertheless, the group were not able to access their bus for over two hours. As a consequence, the staff member was instantly dismissed.
In total contrast, there have been many far more questionable occurrences than the beach incident, by staff in government direct care. At worst, these staff are moved sideways – moved to another house.
One of the main attractions of working for government, is safe and secure employment - almost no matter what the person does, or does not do.
All of this does not mean there are not a great many public sector staff with very good integrity and work ethics. What it shows is, those not in this category also have the luxury of safe employment.
This provides little incentive for good workers to continue being so. After all, why should people do it right, when others do not, and are not penalised
Wednesday, April 11 2012
by the big power brokers within two government departments who have the following hierarchical order over people:-
1. The Australian Tax Office.
2. The Department of Human Services, Victoria.
The ABC’s 7:30 Report, April 9, 2012, reported the Australian Tax Office as abusing its power.
When ATO senior auditor Ms Serene Teffaha reported things like procedural fairness and natural justice were not being appropriately delivered, her concerns were ignored!
Eventually, Ms Teffaha and five colleagues made a complaint under the federal whistleblower protection laws. But soon discovered, they did not get the fair hearing they foolishly believed they would.
In a writ lodged in the Federal Magistrates Court in Melbourne, Serene Teffaha says that after the whistleblower complaint was lodged, the Australian Tax Office turned on her.
She says she was singled out from her colleagues and falsely accused of being a bully with suicidal tendencies. She says private detectives were hired to investigate her, and her future job prospects were threatened.
It's been completely paralysing for me, because the ATO were able to systematically wage these types of behaviours and actions against me with little or no appropriate accountability for their actions.
Serene felt she been forced to actually attempt to make these individuals, these senior officials within the ATO accountable through actually going to court.
Serene has written to the Federal Government calling for a review of the ATO's governance and accountability, as the unchecked and unfettered powers of the ATO are unparalleled.
They might not be physically hurting people, but they are most certainly psychologically and mentally waging a horrific war on those who attempt to question their bureaucratic activities.
Similar horrific war is waged by the Department of Human Services against anyone who dares to expose their questionable management practices, staff lore and service provision for vulnerable people and their families.
Traditional department reactive management philosophy is not to recognise good staff, and to punish them if they make just one simple error. Yet no matter what questionable staff do or don’t do, they are not exposed, reprimanded or dismissed.
So good staff say, “If no one is interested in, or cares what I do, and no one is concerned about the questionable actions of questionable staff, then why should I bother to do more than just appear at my workplace, take the pay and look the other way”.
Sunday, April 08 2012
- A ‘Catch-22’ is a ‘no win situation’.
- Supervise or manage without conflict is a public service avoidance technique.
Public service managers and supervisors within the Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria, have a unwritten lore which expects them not to give the manager above them any problems. They are expected to be self-sufficient, and not to expect assistance to manage their staff.
Although this lore extends through all levels of management, the most affected area is that of House Supervisor in DHS group homes (SSAs).
Manage or Supervise without conflict is a traditional public sector management issue avoidance tool, allowing managers and supervisors to maintain their comfort zone and avoid the need to use fortitude and effective man-management practices to set, monitor and maintain direct care staff work value expectations necessary to ensure service level and quality is within departmental care policies, standards, values, guidelines, and community expectations.
The manage and supervise without conflict philosophy, allows the managers and supervisors of government direct care services in Victoria, services for people with an intellectual or multiple disability, to ensure that they are always considered nice people by their direct care staff. Being content to reduce service standards to clients/residents, rather than risk having discontented staff.
The majority of the residents of government direct care supported accommodation services, have insufficient capacity to effectively question their service level and quality standards. And most advocates have been driven away by the overwhelming and long standing ability of government departments to treat customers with contempt, saying that any complaint they may have is just their opinion.
The supervise without conflict principle can work, but only where the staff being supervised do not have the job security of a government captive market service.
In a government, public service, captive market, secure employment situation, like the Department of Human Service, Victoria, house supervisors do not actively and consistently set, monitor and maintain direct care staff work value expectations to ensure service level and quality to the resident is within the direction, intention and spirit of departmental care policies, standards and values. Rather, most ensure their staff are content, at the expense of the residents, to meet the ‘Supervise without conflict’ lore.
This ‘lore’ also extends to the non-government, CSO, sector. As the department funds the CSOs, it is responsible for their service standards. Where a consumer complains to the department about service quality, the department frequently sides with the CSO, to avoid conflict with the CSO, as department bureaucratic processes can easily silence consumers who have no choice of service provider within captive market service provision
Thursday, April 05 2012
Hits on the LISA Forum-item, ”Reluctance to Complain”, has exceeded 1000!
There is, as there should be, a major concern over the intimidation of those who dare to complain about the level and quality of care services, especially government direct care services for people with disabilities and their families.
The Disability Services Commissioner, Victoria, rates ‘intimidation’ as the number-one reason people are in fear of making a complaint, especially against government direct care services.
Overall ‘reactive’ management of government direct care services is the number-one reason their service provision is inconsistent between group homes and between regions, and frequently extremely questionable throughout.
In Victoria, the government controlled DSR (Disability Support Register) ensures 99% of consumers have no choice of service provider, except – “Take it, or leave it!”
Government direct services have additional restrictive practices:
• Their management and staff have secure employment within a traditional public service culture where there are few expectations on management or staff.
• No one owns the ‘company’, therefore no one is responsible for anything, including the service level and quality, but especially the problems.
• No one takes ownership of the problems. These are swept under the carpet.
• Problems, therefore, go around and around in the their revolving door.
People are an easy target for intimidation when:
• The service provider has a captive market.
• People are vulnerable.
• People have no service entitlement rights.
• People are frequently reminded they are lucky to have anything.
Some of the reasons people are reluctant to complain are:-
(a) They fear retribution and intimidation of their vulnerable family member and themselves, and the threat of service withdrawal or reduction,
(b) They don't fully understand their rights to service level and quality,
(c) They don't want to be seen as a whinger,
(d) They don't fully understand the service
(e) They have concerns about how complaining will affect their relationship with service management and staff,
(f) They have insufficient information on how or where to complain,
(g) Their previous negative experiences of complaining, put them off,
(h) They don't 'know' anything other than the service they're receiving and,
(i) They feel, complainants can lose more than what they have lost as a result of that which they were complaining about.
Thursday, April 05 2012
Report of April 2012 reveals that over three quarters of local authorities are struggling to fund services for people with a learning disability
FULL REPORT Link
The Learning Disability Coalition (LDC) has revealed the extent of the care crisis for people with a learning disability, in a report published today (Wednesday 4 April).
'Social Care in Crisis – the Need for Reform' finds that over three quarters (77%) of local authorities are facing difficulties in funding services for people with a learning disability and have made either cuts or savings. Of these, 9 out of 10 anticipate further ‘efficiency savings’.
This is the LDC’s third annual survey of local authorities, and is supported by information from people with a learning disability and service providers. It reveals a stark picture of the reality of living with a learning disability in England in 2012.
The report says that care providers are under pressure to deliver more for less – 90% of providers surveyed said the funding situation was ‘difficult’. Two thirds (66%) are expected to provide additional support within an existing contract without extra support. Furthermore, nearly half (48%) of people with a learning disability have had their support reduced or charges increased to date.
“This reveals the myth that restrictions on local authority budgets can be contained within efficiency savings,” says Anthea Sully, director of the Learning Disability Coalition. “Ongoing cuts are being made to services, causing very real difficulties for people.
“The government must urgently reform the system and invest more money to end the care crisis or many people with a learning disability, their families and carers will struggle to maintain even a basic standard of living.”
The LDC is a coaltion of 15 learning disability c, including Mencap.
5 April 2012
Being the mother of a child with autism and learning disabilities, I am very worried about what the future holds for my son. I also work full time within adult social care and am seeing more and more often that funding is being withdrawn. Residential homes and supported living houses are being closed and more and more families are expected to find their own care with direct payments or worse...having their disabled loved ones placed into homes which are not appropriate for them. The number of people born with, or acquiring a learning disability rises each year, So how is this country supposed to cope on less and less funding, and constant closures. The UK really has taken a step back into the dark ages and never have I felt more like leaving my own country!
4 April 2012
the government needs to listen to the report urgently as the lack of care which people are facing is a real concern. The future shouldn’t be about more struggling and unnecessary battles to gain appropriate care
4 April 2012
The government needs to listen urgently to the findings of this report. Really concerned on the consequences of people with learning disabilities and their families not receiving the right support. The future shouldn’t be. about more struggling and people like myself having to challenge the care system.
Monday, April 02 2012
The NSW and Victorian governments have criticised the federal government over the lack of funding arrangements for the national disability insurance scheme.
Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have been accused by the Victorian government of perpetrating a "cruel hoax" on disabled Australians by talking up a national disability insurance scheme before any funding deal has been put to the states.
And the West Australian government has cited the proposed NDIS as evidence federal Labor is in the habit of "committing fully to projects without having much idea how much the projects will cost". The comments came as a meeting between Mr Swan and state treasurers in Canberra on Wednesday emerged as a roadblock to plans to fast-track the NDIS.
The stoush also indicates the growing challenge to federal Labor by conservative governments in the five wealthiest states, following the Liberal National Party's landslide election win in Queensland last weekend.
On Saturday The Weekend Australian revealed Ms Gillard's plan to make disability insurance a central feature of the May budget, burnishing the the Prime Minister's credentials as a can-do leader with "true blue" Labor values.
But with the scheme due to cost about $13.6 billion a year following the scheduled commencement in 2018, incorporating the $7.1bn already allocated each year to disability support, the states are claiming Ms Gillard and Mr Swan are all talk.
FULL STORY Link
LISA Comment: As we said, “No way, no how, will the NDIS be reflective of the intentions of the Productivity Commission, in the near future!”
When the Productivity Commission produced its extensive proposals, state government direct care management and staff saw their comfort zone and safe employment disappearing with the Productivity Commission’s proposal of a shift from state government-funded and provided services, to services provided by a wide range of organisations.
State government direct care management and staff no longer see the NDIS as a threat to their captive market comfort zone, where consumers and their families are frequently seen as a disruption to the well being of service management and staff.
It’s back to bureaucratic business as usual.
Consumers and their families have no service entitlement, and are made to feel they are bludging on government services if they dare to question any aspect of the service they receive as a ‘charity hand-out’.
The ‘Disability Services Commissioner’ – Victoria, identifies the number-one reason why consumers and their families do not complain, as being, “The fear of intimidation of their vulnerable family member and themselves”. Where consumers, vulnerable people, have no choice of service provider, intimidation can be, and often is rife.