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Monday, July 08 2013

The majority of DHS supported accommodation group homes have two basic funding avenues, (a) support service funding (staff wages and overheads) and (b) service management funding (day to day resident living expenses).

In this evaluation, we will consider just the service management funding, which    originates mainly from money paid into the residents’ trust fund, which is managed by State Trustees.

Each resident of the group home pay an amount each month to their trust fund.  This amount is equal to cost of the three components in their financial statement, which is produced by the house supervisor.  The three components are, rent, housekeeping and personal expenditure.  In dollar terms, the range is around, $800 to $1000 per month.

State Trustees send the rent component directly to DHS.  The housekeeping and personal expenditure components are sent to card accounts at the house – the group home.

There is, however, a small difference between the amount received by State Trustees from the resident’s administrator  (from their DSP), and that sent to the house.  The positive difference is kept in the residents trust fund for special requirements.  This money can be accessed by the house supervisor, but only with the authority of the resident’s administrator signing a special purchase request form (this is the first slush fund).

The personal expenditure money paid to the house by State Trustees from the resident’s trust fund, is paid into a house card account, and is accounted for on the CERS forms, a copy of which is sent to the resident’s administrator.

The housekeeping money paid to the house by State Trustees from the resident’s trust fund, is paid into a house card account, and is used to purchase food items, household items and pay utility accounts, etc, etc.  When the excess in housekeeping account gets to a DHS determined level, this money is sent back to State Trustees to be kept in an account to cover any unforseen financial circumstances.  Justification for withdrawal from this account is a special purchase form signed by all administrators. (this is the second slush fund).

CERS (Client Expenditure Recording System) Manual

Posted by: HATTON AT 09:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, May 19 2013

Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria

Increase in board and lodging fees for the residents of department managed group homes

This information sheet has been developed by the department to respond to frequently asked questions about the Board and Lodging Fee, to be implemented from December 2013, for people with a disability living in department managed group homes.

Residents are concerned the new fee doesn't seem fair - how much is the department going to contribute to the cost of supported accommodation?

The new board lodging fee will bring the average contribution per resident for supported accommodation to approximately $17,500 per annum. The average cost to Government to support a resident in department managed supported accommodation is $128,000 per annum. The fee will cover most of a residents' day to day living expenses.

Who received notification of the new Board and Lodging Fee?

The new Board and Lodging Fee applies to group home residents who pay rent to the Department of Human Services (the department). In-line with section 66 of the Disability Act 2006, notice of the new fee structure including a fee increase was sent to each resident and their administrator. This is the same notification process that has been used for all previous fee increases.

The Department has provided seven months notice of the change (the Act specifies that only two months notice be provided when implementing a fee increase). This was to provide people with an opportunity to understand the change and how it will impact their individual circumstances.

The department is also providing information about the new fee to external stakeholder groups including the Disability Services Commissioner, the Office of the Public Advocate and VALID.

How can staff assist residents and their administrators?

An announcement to staff in relation to the new Board and Lodging Fee was made as early as possible. A comprehensive staff information plan has been developed and will be implemented over the coming months. The plan includes information bulletins such as this Frequently Asked Questions bulletin, divisional information sessions and working groups.

Divisions will be collating issues raised by staff, residents and administrators to ensure that the development of communications materials respond to those specific concerns.

Can we have more detail about how Board and Lodging will work? For example, how much money will be allocated to each group home for food?

The information to residents, administrators and disability accommodation staff, distributed from 3 May 2013, only notified people of a change to the fee structure for department managed group homes and that this would include a fee increase.

Work has commenced to review current policies and practice and to identify changes that are required to implement the new fee structure. Divisional working groups will commence shortly to progress this work over the coming months and will utilise the experience of operational staff to ensure effective policy development.

Detailed information will be provided to staff, residents and administrators as this work is finalised.

What will the actual dollar amount of the new Board and Lodging Fee be?

The next increase to Centrelink payments, including the Disability Support Pension and Commonwealth Rent Assistance (Rent Assistance) payment, will occur on 20 September 2013. The actual dollar amount of the new Board and Lodging Fee cannot be calculated until the amount of this increase is known.

As a guide only, if the new Board and Lodging Fee was applied at the current rates of Disability Support Pension and Rent Assistance, the dollar amount would be approximately $1460 per month.

Note: If residents or administrators enquire, this figure should only be used as a guide to assist them in understanding the impact of the fee increase to be implemented on 1 December 2013.

How can residents dispute the notice of increase with VCAT within 28 days if they don't know the actual dollar amount?

The notice of fee increase provides sufficient detail about how the fee will be calculated and what will be included in the fee to enable a resident or their administrator to apply to VCAT to dispute the notice.

How will the implementation of the new fee impact the workload of house supervisors, operational managers and CERS officers?

When the Board and Lodging Fee is introduced, the overall process for managing housekeeping funds in a group home will be similar to the current process. Review of current policies and practice has identified opportunities to reduce workload and in some cases remove some activities entirely, such as the completion of housekeeping plans.

Developments, such as the introduction of Westpac Debit Mastercards, will reduce workload and provide greater flexibility in how finances are managed in the group home. For example, staff currently make multiple trips to the ATM over several days to collect sufficient funds to pay large utility bills. This will no longer be required as the Debit Mastercards enable online and telephone purchasing. Also, utility bills will not be paid by group home staff after 1 December 2013.

The divisional working groups will further consider opportunities to achieve workload efficiencies.

Who will apply for the Rent Assistance payment?

It will be the administrator's role to advise Centrelink that the resident's accommodation details have changed. Centrelink will then assess the person to determine if Rent Assistance is payable. The Rent Assistance will be paid directly to the resident via their administrator.

The department will work with Centrelink to discuss opportunities to ensure this is a smooth administrative process for residents and their administrators. Further advice will be provided closer to the implementation of the new Board and Lodging Fee.

What if the administrator does not apply for Rent Assistance or is considered ineligible?

The Board and Lodging Fee is equivalent to 75 per cent of the Disability Support Pension and 100 per cent of the Rent Assistance. If the person does not apply for the Rent Assistance, they will still be required to pay the equivalent amount.

If the person is not eligible for Rent Assistance as a result of the Centrelink income test, they will still be required to pay the equivalent amount of the full Rent Assistance payment.

If the person is not eligible for the Rent Assistance for other reasons, this will be considered on an individual basis.

Residents might have other income, such as Mobility Allowance payments and Continence Aids payments. Is this income considered in the calculation of the Board and Lodging Fee?

No. The Board and Lodging Fee will not consider other sources of a person's income, such as other allowances or subsidies that a person may receive to assist them in meeting their personal expenses.

What happens if a resident or administrator feels they cannot afford the new Board and Lodging Fee?

The Board and Lodging Fee will affect the income of individuals in different ways and should be considered on a case by case basis.

The Department has provided seven months notice of the change (the Act specifies that only two months notice be provided when implementing a fee increase). This was to provide people with an opportunity to understand the change and how it will impact their individual circumstances.

If a resident or their administrator feels they are unable to afford the new Board and Lodging Fee an application can be made for consideration under the 'Undue Financial Hardship' process.

What does the Undue Financial Hardship process involve?

An application form is completed by the administrator that provides details of the resident's total income and expenditure. The application also seeks additional information that should be taken into consideration. For example a resident may have very high medical costs not covered by Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme that need to be considered.

Support will be provided to staff and managers involved with this process including additional guidance around application of the policy and systems to ensure consistent decision making across the state.

Will there be reimbursement processes for residents who don't consume food because they use a PEG tube or because they are absent from the group home?

There will still be a process for reimbursing residents whose food intake is significantly reduced. The method for assessing and calculating reimbursements will be reviewed through divisional working groups to ensure there is consistency across all department managed group homes.

How will the Board and Lodging Fee apply to residents of Plenty Residential Services and ex-St Nicholas group homes who already pay a Board and Lodging Fee?

The new Board and Lodging Fee of 75 percent of Disability Support Pension and 100 percent of Rent Assistance will apply to all group homes where residents pay rent to the department. This includes ex-St Nicholas and Plenty Residential Service group homes.

The letter that was sent to residents and families in early May 2013 provided a generic list of inclusions that will be provided to all people paying a Board and Lodging Fee.

Residents of ex-St Nicholas and Plenty Residential Service group homes will continue to be provided with the same service items that they currently receive.

New residents who move into ex-St Nicholas and Plenty Residential Service group homes will receive the same service items currently provided in these group homes.

How will finances be managed at Singletons Equity, Housing Choices Australia and private rentals?

The Board and Lodging Fee only applies to residents who pay rent to the department.

If residents pay rent to a different provider, such as a housing association there will be no change to how expenditure is managed in their homes.

Will residents still be able to share the cost of some items?

Yes. Where more than one resident agrees to share the cost of something, for example regular newspaper delivery or the care of a pet, this can be done through each residents financial plan.

What changes will there be to the process of allocating and maintaining Westpac Debit Mastercards?

There will be some changes to the process for allocating Debit Mastercards to staff and for maintaining this information. These changes are designed to resolve many of the issues that are raised regarding the current process which appears to vary significantly in its efficiency across the state.

Further development of the process associated with allocating and maintaining Debit Mastercards will be progressed by divisional working groups.

Posted by: HATTON AT 02:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 17 2013

The Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria, is demanding a 50% increase in living expenses from its supported accommodation group home residents, to allow it to continue as a service provider under the NDIS, as well as help offset the state’s share of NDIS funding. This out-of-control government department is seeking to have its bread buttered both sides!

For years this department has made sure it had financial popularity to offset its very poor service record.  This was done by underfunding the non-government services, so they have to charge their residents more to compensate for the shortfall in support-service funding provided to them by the department. 

The department, consequently, being able to provide more support service funding to their own services, with their residents paying less than the residents of non-government services.

Whereas, now, the department’s priority is to stay a service provider under the NDIS.  This means it has to take a lower support service fee to compete with non-government services.  Having no scruples, the department is prepared to scalp its residents, in its desperate quest to stay as a service provider when all support service funding is from the NDIS.  Yet it can be virtually guaranteed, the service level and quality will not change for the better in consequence of the proposed 50% increase in what DHS residents are currently paying.

Therefore, if the DHS stays as a service provider under the current public service, charity hand-out regime, developed under the block-funding culture, residents will eventually pay their NDIS, ISP, for similar department charity hand-out services.

Whereas if we consider the marketplace scenario, where the families of six residents in a supported accommodation group home are financially able to pay both the service fee and the accommodation (B&L) fee, “Would they not expect a first class service in every way, and with wall to wall customer service?”  “Of course, they would!  Indeed, they would insist it was!” 

In total contrast, the captive market scenario is where the service fee is from government block funding or, in the case of the NDIS, from government in the form of an ISP,  The natural question is, therefore, “Why is the captive market service not similar to the marketplace service? 

In general, this is because service provider management and staff see residents and their families who take government funding, as bludging off the government.  And consider residents and their families should feel eternally grateful for whatever the staff do or don’t do, and should never, ever, complain.

We ask the question, “Why is the level and quality of service so dependent on the funding source?”  We suggest this is because service management and staff have a sense of safe employment in a captive market situation.  Whereas in a marketplace situation, service management and staff feel responsibility is a requirement to retain their employment.

There is significant concern the captive market situation will not be broken with NDIS, ISPs.  The captive market is far too entrenched to be enhanced by a mere change of funding source.  An over-supply of service providers would be needed to make serious inroads into the captive-market culture. 

Consequently, little more, than more of the same charity hand-out services, in contrast to entitlement services, will likely result from NDIS funded support services.                 

 

Posted by: HATTON AT 05:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 22 2013

The Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria, has total despotic control over almost every aspect of support services for people with disabilities, and of the people themselves. 

This is as a direct result of government general revenue funding for disability services being provided through this government department - rather than directly from Treasury, or via and independent agency.

With its huge public service bureaucratic infrastructure, the department has major conflicts of interest.  Just to name a few…  “It is the sole government funding body for disability services throughout Victoria.  It is a major direct service provider/ landlord throughout Victoria   And, it is the major regulator of disability services throughout Victoria”.

A large percentage of funding the department receives from government is chewed-up with its determination to have total and bureaucratic control over every service for, and all persons with disabilities, on its empire building and bureaucratic waste, and on its need to buy its way, rather than properly manage its way - a direct result of its reactive/disaster, rather than proactive management.

In total contrast, non-government, not for profit service providers, community service organisations, who provide services similar to department’s direct services, are expected to provide services equal to or better on the smell of an oily rag.  And, they are intimidated by the department’s power hungry ignorant bureaucrats at the drop of a hat.  Whereas, the department’s direct services do whatever they wish, at enormous cost.

There is little difference in the way the department’s captive market philosophy intimidates its consumers, their families and non-government service providers.

The department’s recent intimidation tool against non-government service providers is the “Funding and Services Agreement”.

The range and intensity of intimidation contained in this document forced National Disability Services to seek legal advice, advice which confirmed where the department’s despotics had worded clauses to allow the department to make, at their absolute discretion, unilateral decisions which adversely impact on CSOs – “Do what we say without question or redress, or else!”

The legal advice finds department power over CSOs has no limitations or application/negotiation benchmark/s, or natural justice such as equal opportunity for CSOs to be entitled to an independent review process.                     

Posted by: HATTON AT 12:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Saturday, March 16 2013

The recent Victorian Government Cabinet reshuffle following Denis Napthine taking over as Premier, saw the Honourable Mary Wooldridge, MLA, previously the Minister for Community Services, appointed as Victoria's first dedicated Minister for Disability Services and Reform.

This appointment sends a strong message to the Department of Human Services, Disability Services, that the new Premier recognises the absolute circus and crises within all corners of this government department which has been wasting dollars and providing questionable services for years.

We trust the new Minister will examine the future of the DHS as a direct provider of disability services.  And, as a matter of urgency, move her department out of direct service provision and make regulatory reform to enable and ensure non-government service providers are better able to focus on the delivery of customer centred, quality of life, support services. 

Direct care services should be provided by non-government, not for profit, community service organisations which, unlike government direct care services, can be made accountable for service level, quality and customer service, as service management is marketplace-proactive. 

This is in total contrast to the department’s overall, captive-market, reactive, crises driven, in-denial, issue avoidance, intimidating, consumer avoidance, dollar burning, management.

Whereas, the Department of Human Services, Disability Services, has an extensive range of very comprehensive care policies, standards and values which, if fully and consistently implemented within their direction, intention and spirit, would ensure people with disabilities and their families were at the very centre of first class, quality of life, service provision.   

Posted by: Hatton AT 09:34 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, February 21 2013

The Disability Support Register (DSR) of the Department of Human Services (DHS), Victoria, is a service allocation process for all people in Victoria with a confirmed need for supports that meet their disability needs.

Medical services are, in contrast, available to all Australians, because all pay or have paid the Medicare levy.  We do not have to stand in-line or compete with others to see a doctor.  We have a recognised and paid entitlement to medical services.

In total contrast, people with disabilities have no such entitlement to support services for their basic living needs.  They have to stand in a ‘charity hand-out line’ and compete with others for the few crumbs of support funding which is further reduced by DHS bureaucratic fudging and bludging in their ivory palaces.

The DSR application form is massive and bureaucratic, where people with disabilities must bare their most inner sole to assertively compete with each other for those charity hand-out crumbs.

Consider the outrage if members of the general population had to complete such a sole baring document as a DSR application, justifying their need for medical services.  At the drop of a hat, we can go to a GP, be referred to specialist and have the most complex range of tests - electronic and pathology.

The initial intention of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) was that of providing entitlement disability support services through a percentage on the Medicare levy.

It is sad the Australian general population, unlike Scandinavians, appear reluctant to share their quality of life with those Australians disadvantaged by disability, by fully funding the NDIS similar to medical services, to provide needs and entitlement based lifetime services for all people with disabilities.  Rather than the weak, watery and penny-pinched NDIS about to be launched on peanut funding from controversial government general revenue. 

LINK to DSR Application Form   ~   LINK to Ongoing Disability Support Handbook.
Posted by: HATTON AT 09:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 11 2013

Vulnerable children have revealed a secret life of prostitution, hard drugs including heroin and violence while living in residential care. Andy Burns - Andy.burns@news.com.au - Herald Sun – February 11, 2013.

Wards are victims of a record number of assaults and sex attacks while living in state care [Victoria] last year. Care workers say a lack of beds is a major cause of the trouble, with children as young as 12 groomed for drugs and sex work by their older peers.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show there were 512 assaults, sex attacks and rapes of children in care last year, a 130 per cent jump in three years.

Industry experts say the situation is dire, with more kids at risk of slipping through the cracks.

Three youths have told their stories, saying that during their time in care: they became users of drugs including marijuana and methamphetamines. They were introduced to prostitution. They witnessed systematic violence and abuse. They were sexually assaulted.

One girl said that as a 13-year-old, she shared a house with two older wards who began "pimping" her as a sex worker at a train station.

"They were both prostitutes, so they started giving me their drugs and stuff and they gave me a drug habit so that I would start doing that with them," the girl said.

She said she was permitted by carers to walk out of the unit on a nightly basis.

"They (residential workers) didn't care, you didn't even need to say where you were going, you'd just walk out the door," she said.

"If you have girls who are really f...ed up and you put them with 12-year-olds — it should not happen," she said.

Sandie de Wolf, CEO of the non-government Berry Street children's program, said the lack of beds for the 500 children in Victoria was leading to the mixing of vulnerable young children with older troubled teens.

"You don't put a vulnerable 13-year-old girl who has been sexually abused with three older acting-out boys, but if that's the only bed, that happens," she said.

One care worker said many children who went into residential care came out worse off.

DHS head of policy for Victoria's Eastern Region, Chris Asquini, said "the dial is definitely turning" in a positive direction since a department overhaul in 2007.

"It's about keeping your staff motivated to keep going in the face of some very complex, difficult, confronting work," Ms Asquini said.

Minister for Community Services Mary Woolridge said the Government had made progress and was committed to reform.

LISA Comment: Just like the management of group homes for people with an intellectual or multiple disability, DHS management of "Child Protection" is equally unable to properly manage the business of ensuring the provision of proper and accountable care.

Posted by: Hatton AT 12:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, February 10 2013

Traditional public service bludging and fudging takes a large percentage out of public funds allocated by the state government of Victoria to support the state’s most vulnerable people.

Jeff Kennett saw the need to get DHS Victoria out of direct service provision, but was beaten by union demands.

“Will Ted Baillieu see the value in doing this before the next state election in November 2014, or will he need to be re-elected to do this - to have government/public funds properly provide for those for whom these funds are intended, rather than a large percentage fund the traditional bureaucratic bludging and fudging in the public service comfort zones of the Department of Human Services?”

The department’s management structure is a sham of reactive rather than proactive management buying its way, rather than managing its way.

Department management has no ability to properly man-manage its direct care staff to set, monitor and maintain their work value, to ensure services are consistently with the direction, intention and spirit of the department’s care policies, standards and values.

Most department group homes, for people with an intellectual or multiple disability, float on paperwork - many with offices large enough to run BHP!

All this whilst the department hands-out peanuts to non-government, community service organisations (CSOs), to provide similar services, and then punish and intimidate them if they falter in any way. Whilst their own services can make the most atrocious mess, and nothing is said.

The department keeps the CSOs lean, whilst they keep a lion’s share of state government/public money to bludge, fudge and enjoy comfort zones at work’.

Posted by: Hatton AT 12:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 16 2013

A Judge has slammed a controversial" competency" test devised by the government for disabled workers, saying it has led to lower wages and is discriminatory

The federal government could be liable for a compensation bill for disabled workers, some of whom earn less than a dollar an hour working in government subsidised businesses known as Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), doing tasks such as filling envelopes, packing muesli bars and gardening work.

The ADEs, formerly known as sheltered workshops, assess workers using the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT), which measures their productivity as well as ‘‘core’’ and ‘‘industry’’ competencies.

Full Story LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Thursday, January 10 2013

The federal coalition has abandoned its guarantee to deliver a budget surplus a day after Labor confessed it could not keep the nation's finances in the black.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey said because the government would not reveal the size of the deficit, he could not repeat the previous promise to have a surplus in every year of an Abbott Government.

Story LINK- 22 December 2012 – Herald Sun

Real NDIS – A Bridge Too Far!

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 09 2013

The Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria, have been talking about this type of direct care work hours accountability monitoring in their group homes throughout Victoria for over three years. Yet, this has been, and still is a serious factor frequently and adversely affecting the care of vulnerable people – the residents of the said group homes.

The rorting of rostered work hours has been occurring since the DHS originally became involved in the provision of direct care services for the residents of group homes.

Many direct care staff believe that once all the domestic tasks are completed within a group home, there is no need for more than one staff member to remain in the house - so there is no need for them to stay to the end of their shift.

There is little general acceptance of, (a) at least a moral obligation to be at one’s workplace for those hours for which one is paid, (b) at least a moral obligation to be meaningfully productive for the hours for which one is paid and (c) those with limited capacity need quality of life care not just minder care.

Quality of life care is well defined in most departmental publications. The DHS Standards Evidence Guide as, “staff competency in relation to active engagement and capacity building strategies (pg. 27), the Residential Services Practice Manual, section 4.4 and, the Quality Framework 2007, section 4, valued status 6.1-3.

Most of the reason rorting of rostered hours has continued to fester, is the totally failure of all levels of management above house supervisor to properly man-manage direct care staff to ensure they are supported, encouraged and praised, or properly disciplined. If staff are ‘managed’ to be just ‘bums on seats’, they are most likely to be just that. Whereas if they are actively encouraged and well supported to be valued members of a care team, they are more likely to be so - with responsibility and job satisfaction.

Certainly, there is ample technology to monitor staff are at their workplace for their rostered hours, but little to monitor meaningful activity when they are there. Quality, meaningful and pro-active management can solve most problems within these factors (Quality Framework 2007, Handbook section 2.2.2 – Principle that underpin the quality framework are , ‘Human Rights’ and Quality Management’).

DHS Standards Evidence Guide LINK

Residential Services Practice Manual 2012 LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 02 2013

The department produced these care policy manuals in 2007, 2009 and 2012

Editions 2009 and 2012 contain a - 'Promoting Positive Practice’ preface.

Positive Practice preface of issue 2009 LINK

Positive Practice preface of issue 2012, August 2012, follows and applies to all...

Contents

  • The aim of residential services
  • Staff role
  • Practice and service accountability
  • Individualised support and resident inclusion is vital to wellbeing
  • Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities
  • Department of Human Services Values
  • Person Centred Active Support is the key

Resources 2012 RSPM LINK

The aim of accommodation services:
Residential services aim to enrich the quality of life of residents who live in them.

Staff role:
The role of Disability Development and Support Officers (staff) is to provide skilled support and use every available opportunity to actively promote resident's:

  • participation in household and community activities
  • relationships with other people
  • decision making skills
  • dignity and respect.

The Residential Services Practice Manual (RSPM) provides instruction and, information based an these underpinning practice principles.

Practice and Service Accountability

All staff should be aware that department managed Disability Accommodation Services and its staff are accountable service for the services they provide. Practice and service delivery is monitored and audited by a range of statutory accountability authorities who have the legal right in circumstances defined by their governing legislation, to scrutinise individual staff actions. investigate service delivery and adverse events, and recommend policy and practice change. These include:

  • The Ombudsman
  • The Auditor General
  • The Public Advocate, includes the Community Visitor Program
  • The Disability Services Commissioner
  • The Senior Practitioner
  • The Coroner

Department of Human Services values

Client Focus: In residential services this means:

  • using Person Centred Active Support (PCAS) approach to provide life experiences and opportunities (in the least restrictive way possible)
  • providing support which is free from personal bias, for example, religious or sexuality beliefs.

Responsibility: For staff this means:

  • making decisions within the scope of their role
  • reporting issues including suspicion of abuse, or neglect and seeking assistance, as required
  • taking responsibility for decisions made.

Collaborative Relationships: For staff this means:

  • working as part of a team with residents, their families, co workers, managers, other service providers and members of the community
  • providing the best possible assistance to residents and co workers.

Professional Integrity and Respect: For staff this means providing support with a focus on:

  • resident wishes and desires
  • practice and policy requirements
  • identifying possible conflicts of interest and ensuring these are managed, or avoided & respecting residents, their families, co workers, other service providers and members of the community 
  • ensuring communication is open and information is shared, as required, so residents are supported in the residential service and when attending other service providers. 

Quality: For staff this means:

  • working to the best of their ability and setting an example to others
  • not accepting 'near enough' as 'good enough' fur themselves, residents, or co workers.

Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

Departmental staff must be compatible with the rights contained in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. The Disability Act 2006 has been assessed for compliance with the Charter. In most instances, if staff act in accordance with the requirements, as outlined in the RSPM, they will meet the Charter's requirements. The following are examples of how Charter rights are applied in residential services: Recognition and equality before the law In residential services this includes:

  • having a current Residential Statement, RSPM 4.1
  • a current child care agreement for children and young people, see RSPM 1.1.1
  • having the right to make a complaint see RSPM 1.6.1.6.1.
  • having the right to an Independent Third Person (ITP) and legal advice, if accused of a crime
  • having the right to legal advice and assistance, if the victim of a crime.

Protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment In residential services this includes:

  • being spoken to and acted towards as an individual. see ISPM 1.1.1.1.2
  • being treated with respect see RSPM 1.2
  • being informed of activities and actions to be performed by staff, for example, when assistance is provided with meals, or personal care tasks, see RSPM 4.11, 4.12, 4.13
  • having access to timely medical treatment and health care, RSPM 5

Privacy and reputation In residential services this includes:

  • having privacy with personal care tasks, where possible, RSPM 4.11 4.12 4.2
  • Sharing information to enable support and protect wellbeing, (not fur small talk, or gossip purposes), RSPM 1.2
  • being spoken about as required, and with respect see RSPM 12. Cultural rights In residential services this includes:
  • respecting and supporting cultural identity and traditions, see RSPM 1.2, 4.9
  • respecting and supporting religious identity and traditions, see RSPM 12 4.9

Right to liberty and security of the person In residential services this includes:

  • supporting freedom of movement within the residential service and the community, unless restriction is authorised, see RSPM 1.2, 7.2, 7.3

LISA Comment: The 'Preface' to the department's 2012 care policy manual is the very first pages.

The 2009 has similar, but the 2007 manual did not have these pages. The department has clearly since learnt, that it needed to define the basis on which the rest of this important manual is based.

This manual together with the recent 'Standards Evidence Guide', the department's traditional 'Quality Framework 2007' and the Eastern Metro Region's 'Family Connections' (shown in the previous LISA Forum item), provide an awesome service foundation if properly and consistently implemented with their direction, intention and spirit.

All service providers, especially the department's direct service provision, should feel an obligation to show and prove to consumers that they are providing meaningful and consistent quality of life care within the afore mentioned policies and standards, and within community expectations. Not expect consumers to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are not.

We will be comparing the "Positive Practice Preface" of the 2009 RSPM, with that of the 2012 RSPM.

Standards Evidence Guide LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, December 30 2012

More than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability, of whom nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning. In the years ahead, disability will be an even greater concern because its prevalence is on the rise. This is due to ageing populations and the higher risk of disability in older people as well as the global increase in chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health disorders.

Disability is part of the human condition – almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life, and those who survive to old age will experience increasing difficulties in functioning. Disability is complex, and the interventions to overcome the disadvantages associated with disability are multiple and systemic – varying with the context.

Problems with service delivery:

Poor coordination of services, inadequate staffing, and weak staff competencies can affect the quality, accessibility, and adequacy of services for persons with disabilities.

People with disabilities were more than twice as likely to report finding health care provider skills inadequate to meet their needs, four times more likely to be treated badly and nearly three times more likely to be denied needed health care.

Many personal support workers are poorly paid and have inadequate training.

A study in the United States of America found that 80% of social care workers had no formal qualifications or training

Inadequate funding:

Resources allocated to implementing policies and plans are often inadequate. The lack of effective financing is a major obstacle to sustainable services across all income settings. In high-income countries, between 20% and 40% of people with disabilities generally do not have their needs met for assistance with everyday activities

Inadequate policies and standards:

Policy design does not always take into account the needs of people with disabilities, or existing policies and standards are not enforced

Negative attitudes:

Beliefs and prejudices constitute barriers to education, employment, health care, and social participation. For example, the attitudes of teachers, school administrators, other children, and even family members affect the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream schools. Misconceptions by employers that people with disabilities are less productive than their non-disabled counterparts, and ignorance about available adjustments to work arrangements limits employment opportunities.

Lack of provision of services:

People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to deficiencies in services such as health care, rehabilitation, and support and assistance

Poorer health outcomes:

Increasing evidence suggests that people with disabilities experience poorer levels of health than the general population. Depending on the group and setting, persons with disabilities may experience greater vulnerability to preventable secondary conditions, co-morbidities, and age-related conditions. Some studies have also indicated that people with disabilities have higher rates of risky behaviours such as smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity. People with disabilities also have a higher risk of being exposed to violence.

Full Report - 300 pages - 3.9MB LINK

Report Summary - 24 pages - 1.2MB LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 21 2012

DHS Victoria will not, at present, make registered service provision from ISP funding mandatory. They say that family members, for example, may provide a service from ISP funds, providing they don’t live at the same venue as the person with the ISP.

Anyone paid for their services from an ISP is defined as a ‘Service Provider’, and is required to provide these services within DHS Standards.

The DHS ‘Standards Evidence Guide’, page 3, says, "Any services working directly with clients will need to comply with the Department of Human Services Standards".

DHS Standards Evidence Guide - LINK

LISA Inc is questioning the following:-

  1. If the person with the ISP were to use a relation living at a different location, that relation would be required, by the DHS, to provide support within departmental care policies, standards and values. Therefore, the said person would be required to know, understand and abide by the department's extensive and comprehensive care policies, standards and values, similar to registered service providers - in a similar way that we are all obligated to 'know the law (common law)'. Ignorance of the law, is not an excuse for breaking it.
  2. Therefore, both registered and unregistered service providers, paid from DHS funded ISPs, must know, understand and abide by the department's care policies, standards and values. "How does the department regulate, or propose to regulate unregistered service providers with equal opportunity to registered service providers in this regard?"
  3. Broadly, "What are the "other specific conditions and guidelines (the obligations)" which make registered different from unregistered service providers?"
  4. Given the obligations, "What are the benefits of being a registered, against an unregistered service provider?"
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 07 2012

“Judgment Failure” or a need for “maximum political brownie points NOW”?? They are the only two possible interpretations of the announcements made about NDIS funding yesterday.

Julia Gillard appears to have learnt little from history. The 1990’s Commonwealth State Disability Agreement (CSTDA) was the major precursor to the proposed NDIS. CSTDA shared funding responsibility between the state and federal governments on agreed responsibilities with the states assuming major responsibility for funding of accommodation, respite and in-home support and the federal government managing supported employment underpinned CSTDA.

CSTDA, undermined by states that habitually and systematically underfunded the increasing demand for disability services, has led to the national disability crisis that exists today. Eight states and territories, changing Premiers and leaders regularly, while making short term decisions on priority funding decisions for their jurisdictions, largely focused on getting themselves re-elected has decimated disability services nationwide. CSTDA funding being split largely 75/25% with the states funding the majority does not sound very different to yesterdays announcement of a 50/50 split. The Federal/ NSW joint venture does little to change the long term funding future funding certainty that is so desperately needed for the NDIS to succeed.

Read mone LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, December 05 2012

Individualised funding continues to be the buzz word of this disability decade. It is truly a sign of how low things are in the disability community that new era solutions includes hyping new case management models that for many the benefits are problematic.

For 80-90 % of disability service clients will not be better off under individualised funding and Disability Speaks would caution consumers to proceed carefully and not be consumed by hype alone.

Can you imagine the furore that would erupt if the government announced that instead of improving Education systems to modern and acceptable levels they would simply move to package funding and shift management responsibility onto the parents of children to source and control their own education services.

Such an analogy is appropriate to today’s disability service world.

Service management is complex and complicated and comes with inherent risks and costs

Individualised funding is a service management approach and should be recognised only as such

It is not a solution to the chronic underfunding woes that dog the disability sector

Consumers need to be very careful about the future choices they are now being asked to make.

There is no doubt for some individualised funding and by extension self managed funding will be a major windfall.

For people with the acumen or the expertise to negotiate better service options may come out well in front

For others complexity, confusion and additional costs are guaranteed.

Read More LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 27 2012

This project comprises the development of a comprehensive database which will receive and compile information from people with disability, their families and carers along with disability sector organisations and the disability services workforce. This information will be used to improve the quality of services provided to people with disability.

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, November 23 2012

The intention of the State Government of Victoria in providing funding for care and support services for people with disabilities was/is that the funding shall provide entitlement services.

In total contrast, the Department of Human Services, Disability Services, sees their provision of direct care services, from this state government funding, as a charity hand-out to people with disabilities and their families – the consumer.

This department, therefore, in practical terms, sees no reason to be proactively accountable to the consumer, no reason to consider the consumer as at the centre of service provision and no reason to do other than force the consumer to prove the department is failing to provide services within the department’s care policies, standards and values. Rrather than they, DHS, having an obligation to prove to the consumer, in very practical terms and values, that they are providing services within the department’s care policies, standards and values.

One of the main intentions of the NDIS was that of moving existing care and support services out of the captive market/charity hand-out service philosophy, into a marketplace/customer focused service philosophy. This seems to have been placed in the NDIS too hard basket.

Nevertheless, marketplace/customer focused services can still be achieved within current state funding, by redefining service funding from the present ‘block’ funding, to ‘ISP’ funding, and remove the current DSR.

The residents of current group homes, for which they pay rent, would be free to, as a group, change service providers and service contracts or, individually, move to another service

NOTE: The above mentioned questionable occurrences are as a direct result of the failure of all levels of department management to properly, proactively and consistently manage the business of ensuring their direct care and support services for people with disabilities are well within the direction, intention and spirit of the department’s comprehensive and extensive care policies, standards and values.

These questionable occurrences are most disturbing to the great many direct care staff who want to do the job right, but are often intimidated by staff lore and house politics if they attempt to do so. This is especially so for those who have just completed Cert4, and are motivated by the quality of life aspect of the course.

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 20 2012

The Department of Human Services, Disability Services Management, has a long standing track record for incident reports conveniently going missing when they want to sweep problems under the carpet. In comparison with DINMA reports, this is quite easy to achieve.

DINMA reports are in a pad of duplicated sheets which are sequentially numbered, making them much easier to track in comparison with one-off, no-numbered, incident reports.

DINMA Reports

Incident Reports

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, November 17 2012

This is a project initiated by the Disability Services Commissioner to support effective relationships between service providers and the families of people using their services.

The objectives include the development of policy principles and practice guidelines for service providers and resources for people with a disability and their families.

The first meeting of the Project Reference Group took place on 14 June 2012. It is expected that the project will continue into early 2013.

We will be seeking input from individuals and organisations who have asked to be included in any future updates and broader sector consultations. If you would like to be included in these consultations, or would like to learn more about the project, please contact us at contact@odsc.vic.gov.au

We continue to be encouraged by the significant amount of interest this project has generated throughout the sector and look forward to working with all stakeholders in further enhancing this aspect of disability service delivery in Victoria.

LISA Comment: This project appears to have been mooted in mid 2011. Yet the first meeting of the consulting group, with only the Eastern Region of DHS taking an interest, did not occur until a year later, mid 2012. and is expected to continue into 2013.

With what has been a major concern of families since time immemorial, service providers working with families, especially most of the DHS Regions, who have always treated families as undesirables, especially those families who dare to question the service on behalf of their family member, the ODSC is, as always, talking the talk.

All service providers, especially DHS direct service provision, need to be obligated, to the consumer and their family, to prove they are providing services and support which is well within the direction, intention and spirit of departmental care policies, standards and values - Not expect the consumer and their family to prove they are not!

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 06 2012

“People with disabilities and support groups in Queensland say the state's disability system is in crisis, and it doesn't have the funding to provide for many people's basic needs”, said Tony Eastley on ABC National Radio, November 6, 2012.

The Queensland Government is the only state insisting that it can't afford to take part in trials for the proposed national disability insurance scheme.

Story Link

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, November 01 2012

Story Link

Single parents and people with a disability are twice as likely to have serious legal problems than the rest of the population, a study shows. (STUDY LINK)

The study, commissioned by state and territory legal aid commissions, found almost half of people aged over l5 had experienced a legal problem in the past year.

The most common types of problems were consumer (21 per cent), crime (14), housing ( 12) and government ( 11) .

National Legal Aid chairman Bevan Warner said legal problems for single parents and people with a disability were "more pronounced" than for others.

"Disability is linked to increased rates of most problem types, including clinical negligence, discrimination, neighbour issues, rented housing, unfair treatment by police and government organisations . . . whereas single mothers' legal problems are more likely to be in the poverty space.”

The findings come after the federal government plan to get 100,000 single parents of parenting payments and onto the Newstart allowance - aimed at encouraging parents to enter or rejoin the workforce – passed the Senate this week.

"People with legal problems get sick, have relationship breakdowns or lose their home. This [does] not only have a severe impact on individual but an additional burden on the health system, family counselling services, government and community services and charities," Mr Warner said.

"The frustrating aspect of this is that our clients … also qualify for other government funded programs that rarely include a legal assistance component. It would be good if government recognised that people with a disability, single parents unemployed and indigenous people are more likely to have legal problems so we should be investing in more intensive services for them."

The study, conducted by the New South Wales Law and Justice Foundation, found that while a little more than half of Australians sought professional help for their legal problems, l8 per cent took no action and achieved the poorest outcomes.

Mr Warner said only the very poorest people could now access legal aid services, largely because Commonwealth finding had dropped, "falling from half of overall funding in 1997 to only a third this year.”

Hugh de Kretser, the Federation of Community Legal Centres' executive officer, said the gap between those eligible for legal aid and those who could afford a lawyer had grown into a chasm and called for the government to double its legal assistance spend.

A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the government had pledged $l .3 billion to legal assistance services over the next four years in the largest commitment in more than a decade.

LISA Comment: Most people with disabilities and their families are overwhelmed by the arrogance of many captive market service providers, especially government direct services

Government direct service, especially, consider they are always right, and consumers are always wrong. And that consumers should be content with whatever they get, or don’t get.

In Victoria, the Department of Human Services, Disability Services (DHS), have the total support of the various pseudo government departments – the Ombudsman, the OPA, the ODSC, VCAT, etc.

These, so called, independent statutory bodies protect the DHS against all but the most blatant consumer complaints.

This all powerful government department is further protected by its huge financial resources, providing it with the very best and most experienced legal support.

People with disabilities and their families, even if they can afford, or can get pro-bono legal support, are often denied access to those legal firms with experience and expertise in the disability field. Many of these firms work for the DHS, and are therefore unable to support those who challenge the DHS - as it would be a conflict of interest.

Incorporated organisations like LISA Inc. can approach PILCH (Public Interest Law Clearing House) for legal support to challenge that which is seen to adversely affect systemic service provision. Nevertheless, it is still that of jumping through blazing hoops and walking on fire to get to the actual law firm. Then the law firm has to convince PILCH that the case has merit. This means, “Is there any chance against the DHS.”

Recently, LISA Inc, with a very smart legal team, lost at VCAT against the old DHS legal guard. The case was that of the release of service provider independent accreditation results to people with disabilities and their families… Our legal team, and almost everyone we know considers it so obvious that these results should be available to consumers – if the consumer, the person with disabilities

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, October 24 2012

Thousands of disabled young people across NSW are stuck in nursing homes because of the fragmented nature of services and agencies responsible for their care, a summit has heard.

About 6500 disabled people nationally, some as young as 20, live in aged care facilities.

In NSW about 2,500 young people are housed in facilities set up to care for those aged 65 and over.

Speaking at the Young People in Nursing Homes (YPINH) Leader's Summit, Disabilities Minister Andrew Constance said while nursing homes have the staff and equipment to support disabled young people, the quality of life for those young people suffers.

"I once met a young person forced to live in a nursing home who said to me ... he's sick of watching Days of Our Lives in the middle of the day and having to endure the same activities that are on offer to those who are over the age of 65," Mr Constance said.

YPINH spokesman Alan Blackwood told AAP more funding and better coordination between service providers and government health, housing and disability departments was needed to help young disabled people leave nursing homes.

Several programs and pilot schemes have been launched, but because they span over several government portfolios and service providers, there is a danger of people "falling through the cracks," Mr Blackwood said.

Funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will help service providers better organise their approach to caring for young disabled people, Mr Blackwood added.

"But it won't solve all of (the problems) unless we get health to actually work with the NDIS and do its bit."

LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, October 21 2012

"Community Visitors regularly report that residents have limited opportunities to realise their individual capacities".

This might be due to poor access to affordable transport or staff shortages or inadequate support. In many cases, residents are not able to make genuine choices about such things as who they live with, activities they engage in or even when they retire.

Sadly, many people still have unmet communication needs, so are unable to actively participate in the decisions that affect their lives or to understand the information that might help them to do so.

The principles of the Disability Act state that people with a disability have the same rights as other members of the community to:

  • respect for their human worth and dignity live free from abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • realise their individual capacity for physical, social, emotional and intellectual development
  • exercise control over their own lives • participate actively in the decisions that affect their lives and have information and be supported where necessary to enable this to occur
  • access information and communicate in a manner appropriate to their communication and cultural needs and services to support their quality of life.

In practice, it is often difficult for people living in residential services to fully exercise these rights.

The Public Advocate says in the OPA Annual Report:

“A pressing concern this year has been increased reporting of allegations of abuse and neglect. Consequently, the Public Advocate has implemented a ‘notification’ process to ensure staff alert her formally in writing of any serious abuse allegations. The information enables her to take the necessary informed action with the Department of Health and DHS to protect the safety of the vulnerable residents visited”.

Community Visitors Report (LINK)

Public Advocate Report (LINK)

LISA Comment: Questionable activities against vulnerable people in both its direct and indirect services will never be reduced or eliminated whilst the Department of Human Service, Victoria, totally fails to properly, consistently and pro-actively manage its care and support services.

This may be a bridge too far, as traditional public service culture is safe employment and an obligation only to be at one’s workplace. Therefore, it is almost impossible for a DHS group home supervisors, for example, to direct staff per se - certainly not to provide more than minder-care.

All our inside contacts say that most staff who attempt to provide residents with quality of life care, with regular engagement/interaction, PCAS and PBS, are often intimidated and ridiculed and told, “We don’t do all that rubbish here!” “Why are you talking to that resident, he can’t understand you?”

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, October 14 2012

The group in charge of Victoria's biggest infrastructure projects manages work poorly, increasing the risk of error and fraud, a scathing report has found.

Victorian Auditor-General Des Pearson said Major Projects Victoria was "not able to demonstrate that it operates, and manages infrastructure projects effectively, efficiently or economically".

In his Managing Major Projects report, Mr Pearson outlined deficiencies in the way MPV monitors its performance, claiming there was little transparency in its self-assessment process.

"MPV adopts employment practices that do not represent value for money and lack transparency and integrity," the report reads.

"These practices have included employees resigning and being reengaged soon after to perform the same work at a much higher cost to the public."

Mr Pearson also reported that MPV was at increased risk of fraud and error because of its poor management of internal contracts.

Major Projects Minister Denis Napthine said the report highlighted the previous Labor government's mismanagement of projects.

"This report, tragically for Victorians, is a damning indictment of major projects under the previous Labor government," he said.

He said a new head of MPV had been appointed earlier this year and the Government had installed a new system to monitor projects across the state.

Opposition spokesman Tim Pallas said lessons needed to be learned from the report, but defended experienced personnel working in MPV: "This report can be a lesson for all governments or it can be an opportunity for a government intent on allocating blame elsewhere to continue to do nothing and to live in fear of failure."

Mr Pearson said projects managed by MPV were valued at about $35.6 billion, with projected spending of around $7.6 billion in the 2013-14 financial year.

The Auditor-General made 22 recommendations that Dr Napthine said would be adopted.

VAGO Report (LINK)

LISA Comment: We see yet another example of government funding, but failing to control the public service. The Department of Human Service is a classic example of ministers being 'mediators' rather than 'controllers'.

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 18 2012

Courier Mail, Brisbane, AAP, September 13, 2012

The Taxi Council of Queensland says people who can't drive or use public transport may have to forgo work or doctors' appointments.

Premier Campbell Newman government's austere budget, delivered on Tuesday, included a $400 per person annual limit on subsidised taxi travel for those with severe mobility impairments.

The government says the cuts will only aaffect 20 per cent of users.

But the taxi council says that still leaves 10,000 disabled people who might have to quit their jobs or stop going to doctors' appointments because they can't afford to travel regularly.

"In my opinion it's not the government necessarily being mean-spirited," the council's chief executive Benjamin Wash told AAP on Thursday.

"I think what they've done is made a decision in the forward estimates without necessarily considering the broader implications."

Under the subsidised taxi travel scheme, the Queensland government pays half the taxi fare up to $25 of those who qualify.

They include the wheelchair-bound, those with difficulty walking, people with severe vision impairment or uncontrollable epilepsy, and those with dementia or severe intellectual disabilities.

There was no annual limit under the previous government, which budgeted $15 million for the scheme.

Mr Wash said the small saving might result in additional costs to the disabilities and communities sector.

Posted by: Hatton AT 06:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 10 2012

Regarding the article 'Care Affair' published in the Riv Herald (Monday, August 20). The article failed to mention some of the matters raised and there was no attempt by the chief executive officer to address the deterioration of the service.

Does he believe, sitting In his newly outfitted offices, that all is well?

Mr Wright mentioned about quality staff (and no doubt there are many staff who are just that) but did not speak of 'quality programs', nor mention the relevance of an expensive, and what we consider, top-heavy senior management structure?

The state of the building at High St is a concern. There are issues with clients who are incontinent in having their hygiene needs met; There are some staff who do not know how to fit a continence aid correctly and some clients have been left in discomfort for long periods of time. Re. the client leaving the building, (the client) was actually found by another client and returned to the safety of his group.

The client's worker did not even realise he was missing. Nor were the parents notified. Mr Wright says that parents/carers are welcome to attend bi-monthly meetings. These were well-attended once, but because of Mr Wright's unwillingness to answer questions, numbers have dropped dramatically.

On Mr Welier's suggestion, the parents submitted questions fora proposed meeting with the Chairman of the MHS Board. We are now informed that the chairman will not meet with the parent group.

Mr Weller, as ambassador for MHS, is very supportive of the work that MHS do in the community — unfortunately, there were no favorable words about the hard work and long hours the parents/carers (his constituents) put in to support their loved ones, Any parent/carer wishing to join the group, please phone 0422 928 338. The Parent Group (of MHS clients)

Posted by: Hatton AT 06:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 07 2012

Part 2.1.1– 1

Overview:

It is important that Disability Accommodation Services (DAS) staff dress in attire that meets workplace Occupational Health and Safety requirements and is suitable to the type of tasks that will be undertaken.

Staff may also be role models for residents so in addition to wearing appropriate clothing, staff should also ensure good personal hygiene and grooming.

Considering Resident Support Needs:-

The resident group and the tasks required must be considered. Staff are to remain aware of the need to work in close physical proximity to some residents, for example, dresses, skirts or sleeveless tops may not be suitable due to the amount of movement such as reaching and bending that may be required.

Each workplace should have general information about the attire best suited to the resident group and duties required. Where there is a specific risk, for example a resident who pulls hair, the requirement to have hair securely fastened must be communicated to all staff before they attend the workplace, or immediately on arrival.

Attire which is not suitable in Residential Services:-

Some clothing and accessory items are not suitable for the work environment and. These include:-

  • clothing with logo's, graphics or advertising that may be offensive.
  • excessively loose clothes that risk being caught on equipment.
  • thongs, high heels and open shoes.
  • clothing, jewellery and accessories that have dangling attachments or loops. that can he caught on equipment or pulled by residents.

Wearing rings should be carefully considered as they can pose a risk of injury when operating certain types of equipment such as hoists and specialised beds, as they can become caught in the mechanisms. In addition rings with raised parts may inadvertently scratch or injure residents when providing personal care. Infection prevention and control also advises that rings be removed for hand washing which creates the risk of them being lost

Suitable Clothing: Suitable clothing should:

  • provide ease of movement
  • give adequate coverage when reaching or bending
  • be suited to the tasks required during the shift.

Footwear Requirements:

Occupational Health and Safety guidelines recommend that footwear is enclosed and suitable for the work area.

Road safety authorities also recommend footwear that is flat and securely fastened for driving. In DAS, footwear must be enclosed and staff should consider if:-

  • footwear will be suitable for bathing and showering
  • the sole is non slip
  • the heel is flat to reduce slipping and tripping risk

Hair:

Long hair and long beards should be securely tied. It is not appropriate to provide close physical support with hair brushing a resident and it may come into contact with body fluids.

Hair and long beards should also be tied back when preparing food for residents.

LISA Comment: It should be noted that all of the above is guidelines. There is rarely mandatory directive for public service staff!

Posted by: Hatton AT 06:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 06 2012

“Too many families tell how they are threatened and intimidated when they deal with disability service providers,” said Max Jackson. “This case study is but one of these stories.”

“There are two elements to the case study,” Max explained. “The first tells of an eight-year struggle by a single mother of an intellectually disabled daughter to have ongoing deficits corrected in her daughter’s residential service.” “The second concerns the role of an advocate and his organisation in seeking to split a loving family relationship by applying to VCAT to have a guardian appointed. This threat of guardianship demonstrates a blatant abuse of power and authority by an organisation which is funded by the government to support the rights of disabled persons to make their own decisions.”

Max emphasised that while this case study depicts one story, it effectively emphasises how service providers in the disability sector use control, threats and intimidation with families and persons with disabilities. He further emphasised that, despite the myriad of so-called protections and the clarion call promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, there is still a long way to go to realise the dreams of the pioneers of disability rights.

“It is appalling to think that some five decades since the rights movement began, the rights of persons with disabilities and their families are being abused by those who are funded to promote and enact the very rights they give lip service to.”

The paper makes the case for five critical reforms. First, rather than mouthing sentiments about the important role families play, the government must show leadership and fund family advocacy. Families are currently without any such support. Second, the government must give the Disability Services Commissioner real power by amending the current Disability Act to include the power to direct. Third, greater scrutiny and transparency must be applied to funded agencies, and the results of quality audits must be made public. Fourth, existing funded advocacy services should not simply continue to be funded as though they are a “sacred cow” and beyond question. Fifth, particular recommendations of the recent Law Reform Commission report concerning VCAT powers and the guardianship legislation must be enacted.

Max said, “The paper in effect is a call to arms to people with a disability and their families to demand that rights no longer simply remain mouthed words of those with the power and control in the disability sector. Instead, rights must become the real basis on which service quality is scrutinised and funded.”

28 August 2012 Contact: Max Jackson, Mobile 0413 040 654. Margaret Ryan, Mobile 0412 409 610.

CASE STUDY LINK

LISA Comment: The Office of the Disability Service Commissioner (ODSC) very actively encourages people to make complaints - saying it is your right to make a complaint. Yet the ODSC has no power to support and protect whistle-blowers!

The ODSC is therefore encouraging vulnerable people to put their necks on the line, as complaints frequently encourage management and staff to increase their resistance.

Families/parents are often seen as villains by staff who are protected by their management with blind loyalty. In government direct care services, public service culture dictates that work value expectations must not be set, monitored and maintained on employees.

There is rarely an attempt made to work-with families, and accept that without family members, services and employment opportunities would not exist. Rather than use bully-boy tactics within a sacred cow culture of a buddy-buddy captive market service system which considers it does not need customers or customer service. And. where the consumer is almost always treated as wrong.

Control and command of consumers will continue whilst the present captive market, institutional, public service and secure employment culture (which is especially prevalent in government direct care services) exists.

Posted by: Hatton AT 06:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 09 2012

Tensions have again flared between the Baillieu and Gillard governments over the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with a proposed Victorian trial bogged down in a wrangle over details.

The impasse has left carers nervous about whether a Victorian trial due to start mid-next year will get a go-ahead. It would cover 5000 people living with a disability in the Barwon region and around Geelong.

It is believed talks have stuck on sorting out details of how much Victoria now spends for each person with a disability in the region.

The Commonwealth is demanding the state funds $20,779 for individual care and support packages for each person with a disability under the trial, with both sides still debating whether a $42 million deal put on the table from Victoria meets that threshold.

The Commonwealth also appears reluctant to agree on Geelong as the site for a National Disability Transition Agency to be set up as part of the insurance scheme, a component of Victoria's trial offer.

Officials from both governments met yesterday to try to break the impasse, with both parties saying the talks had ended on a positive note.

The talks come almost a fortnight after Victoria put its $42 million trial package on the table following a funding standoff between the two governments out of a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments last month.

The Commonwealth recently reached a formal agreement with New South Wales for a trial there, despite a similar funding dispute. Trials have also been agreed in South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.

Premier Ted Baillieu yesterday called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to confirm the Victorian trial, saying the state's proposal had met the threshold set by the Commonwealth and was consistent with other accepted trials in other states.

"Victoria has offered an additional $42 million over the period of the trial. This is more than the $40 million that the Prime Minister publicly proposed for a Victorian trial," Mr Baillieu said.

"There is no valid reason why Prime Minister Gillard cannot now agree to announce a trial for Victoria's Barwon region."

Federal Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin said: "The core question that remains is whether the Victorian government will put money on the table for the costs of care and support for people with disability, in the same way that other states taking part have done."

Daryl Starkey, chief executive of Geelong-based disability services group Karingal, said carers in the region were worried the trial might not go ahead and he was unsure what the hold-up was because the money appeared to be on the table.

LISA Comment: Support packages of $20,779.00, when a DHS group home service fee is $123,545.00 per person - figure from Auditor General of Victoria.

The basic intention of NDIS is funding based on personal assessment. It is hard to believe none of the 5,000 would be considered in need of a high support needs Group Home and a five day, Day Service.

Posted by: Hatton AT 06:55 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, July 18 2012

The Policy and Funding Plan is an integral part of the Service Agreement which is negotiated by the department with funded organisations every three years for the delivery of services to Victorians.

The Plan describes the department’s policy framework, objectives, budget and funding initiatives as well as information in regard to the service activities.

The Plan contains detailed information regarding service activities, service standards and guidelines, targets, performance measures and data collection requirements.

LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:42 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 18 2012

ABC TV 7:30 Report - May 18, 2012

Some Key Points:

This matter has been with the police for two years.

Many cases don't gather sufficient evidence.

Increase of incidents.

People are discouraged from reporting.

There may be an increase in confidence of reporting.

There is still a cover-up culture.

There is still an intimidating culture for Whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers (good staff) are not supported by Management.

That reported is as a direct result of, (a) DHS Public Service Reactive (issue avoidance) Management and, (b) the failure of successive state governments to properly control/regulate DHS Victoria.

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 02 2012

The Baillieu government, Victoria, has unleashed the biggest program of public sector job shedding and cost-cutting since the Kennett era in a desperate scramble to keep the state budget in surplus.

Delivering Victoria's most austere budget since the 1990s, state Treasurer Kim Wells outlined plans to sack thousands of public servants and rake in hundreds of millions of dollars of extra cash.

Kim Wells says Victorians understand the Government has delivered a tough budget the state had to have, despite more public sector job cuts.

Another 600 public servants will lose their jobs on top of the 3600 already announced in December, to keep the state in the black amid plummeting revenues.

Mr Wells said all the public sector job cuts would occur over a two year period from July 1 and said he was confident they would be achieved through voluntary redundancies.

Premier Ted Baillieu said the 4200 jobs to be slashed over two years from a 36,000-strong public service would bring public service numbers back to 2006-07-08 levels, saving $1 billion over four years.

Mr Baillieu said the budget would retain Victoria's AAA credit rating, keep taxes competitive, reduce Workcover premiums and set things up for a near record investment in infrastructure next year.

Mr Wells said it was a case of the Government "living within its means" and funnelling the limited funds to those most in need.

LISA Comment: The first question the people of Victoria, especially people with a disability and their families should ask is, “What are/were the 4200 public servants doing, which is now seen as unnecessary?”

Secondly, “How is the Baillieu government going to ensure the public service is providing meaningful customer service, rather than the traditional service avoidance, issue avoidance and manoeuvre every which way that people with a disability have suffered since time immemorial?”

Clearly, no one cared about the bureaucratic waste until there were financial reasons to keep the state in the black. Rather than ‘monitor and run an efficient public service’ to ensure public money is not used to fund the bureaucratic service avoidance which people with a disability, their families and non government services, CSOs, have to fight continuously to achieve just basic services.

Whilst non government services are well underfunded and struggling, government direct services are living high on the hog. They don’t properly business manage their way, they buy and blunder their way along with reactive management and staff lore!

CSO members of NDS report a rise in problems and frustrations relating to departmental processes of constraints, functionality and administration of the service system - Bureaucratic build-up and bungling, funded at the expense of front-line services for people with a disability and their families.

We should all be concerned with the potential of the state public service to build self-serving bureaucratic empires with NDIS funding, in their quest to be a launching pad for NDIS.

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.

3. God.

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”.

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 27 2012

The New South Wales (NSW) Government is committed to improving the lives of people with a disability, their families and carers. People with a disability, their families and carers have expressed the need for greater choice and control over state based disability funding and resources, and the supports and services they access in their daily lives. To ensure that these people are at the centre of decision making about the services they need, the NSW Government will implement person centred approaches by the end of 2014.

The NSW Government is conducting state wide consultations to seek the views of people with a disability, their families and carers, and service providers on person centred approaches and the outcomes people would like to see within the NSW disability service system.

The consultations commenced with the Living Life My Way summit on 7 and 8 July 2011, which was hosted by the NSW Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Andrew Constance MR

A total of 153 consultation sessions have been held with people with a disability, families and carers and service providers across metropolitan and regional areas of NSW. In addition, the NSW Government commissioned targeted consultations to engage with people from Aboriginal communities, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with intellectual disability. This report includes the findings of the consultations conducted in languages other than English. The consultations with Aboriginal communities and people with intellectual disability are continuing and will be reported separately.

The consultation sessions explored people's views, in detail, on a person centred approach and its key elements:

1 person centred planning;

2 personalised funding arrangements; and

3 person centred service delivery.

This report provides a summary of the key themes, views and suggested directions arising as a result of the consultations and the written submissions received to date.

During the consultations there was overwhelming support for person centred practice. Person centred practice is seen as an attitude or culture that translates into a way of operating that supports people with a disability to live the life they wish. In a person centred service, a person with a disability is listened to, heard, respected and encouraged to exercise choice and control to the greatest extent possible.

A number of people with a disability, families and carers and service providers shared accounts of how services have become more person centred in recent times. There were a number of positive stories of person centred practice, including direct accounts from people with a disability who had changed their lives significantly as a result.

Carers and family members strongly supported the capacity of person centred approaches to determine the 'right' mix of supports and services at key life stages. Person centred approaches could also contribute to the well being and sustainability of the family unit and continuity of care and support arrangements when family members are no longer around to take part in decision making.

Personalised planning is seen as the way to truly understand and respond to a person's service and support needs. Planning would usefully occur around a person's life stage, needs, circumstances, goals, preferences and aspirations. Families, unpaid carers and friends would frequently play an important part in the planning process, as might paid carers and other support people. All participants agreed on the need for a mechanism to change or adjust a plan as circumstances change and the need for an in built review mechanism.

A number of service providers already undertake one on one planning with the people who access their services but recognise the potential for personalised planning to go much further in responding to their clients' needs.

Personalised funding is seen as critical in terms of providing people with a disability direct control over the supports and services they access. The mechanics of how it might work in practice is the subject of rigorous debate and will require a great deal of thought given the range and complexity of needs and expectations that exist within the community.

A transition to personalised funding has significant implications for the service sector and there is a need to plan for the transition and to develop tools and supports to assist providers to make the change.

Personalised service delivery is seen as a way of thinking and behaving more than anything but there are also significant practical implications in terms of the day to day operation of a disability service.

The issues, questions, ideas and views raised during the consultations are summarised below, and will be used to develop a potential model for implementing person centred approaches for disability supports and services within NSW. The model will be developed over the next few months and presented to the community in a second round of consultations in the first half of 2012.

We would like to thank all the participants in the consultation sessions who gave so generously of their time, experience and energy.

Full Report


ADHC - NSW

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 27 2012

See link to full proposals, below ....

So far, just one DHS Region is saying this....

• Invite families to birthday parties & Christmas parties.
• Monthly news letter.
• Three monthly family meetings.
• Encourage people we support to ring their families.
• Weekly phone calls to siblings.
• Encourage family to attend important medical appointments.
• Invite families to PCP meetings.
• Arrange day trips / picnics with family and friends.
• Families over for dinner / afternoon tea
• Creating culture where families come regularly into the group home for a “meeting – afternoon tea, hang out”.
• Monthly newsletter prepared by residents for families.
• Involving families when moving / change in house setting up ‘homely’ environment.
• Technological communications – e.g. SKYPE or emails.
• Maintaining the connection through day placements.
• Home visits
• Via emails to parents to give information.
• New equipment at residence family have to access connections.
• Partnership between homes / staff.
• Key worker to send monthly photos / cards.
• Supporting home visits for people and their families
• Honest open approach
o Walking alongside families
o Involving extended family members and friends. Eg. Brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces etc.
• Afternoon teas
• Working bee and BBQs
• Families over for dinner
• Resident meetings involving families
• Parties – Christmas, birthdays etc
• Invite to special outings
• Provide individualised communication to families (newsletter
• Family involvement in PCP etc.
• Family brunches
• Most importantly meeting individuals needs
• Work with them.
• Communication
o Minutes / information / resident meeting to families
• Getting Toni’s message across to all staff
• Smaller more intimate family get togethers, rather than big functions.
• Provide “confidential” and “private” space.
• Display empathy – walking in their shoes
• What do they want to know about medical issues[color=red]
• Involving family members who are not actively involved – 3 monthly
• Inform about small issues.
• How do we connect with our residents ‘important people”
• News
• Emails/photos re outings
• Easter }
• Daily reality
• Conflict of support
• Mixed values
• Guilt
• Understanding.
• Don’t judge families
• Listen and learn

LINK to full report

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, March 03 2012

Letters to the Editor, The Age, 3 March 2012

Speculation that the Coalition would fund generous parental leave payments ahead of the National Disability Insurance Scheme ("Division over Abbott's parental leave plan", The Age, 29/2) would be a cruel blow to our many people with disabilities, who often do not have basic needs met due to inadequate funding and a chaotic system allocating whatever funds are available.

Much money is wasted by endless bureaucratic meetings to placate people not receiving the services they need. In our case, the more strident we became about our daughter's complex needs not being met, the more DHS and service provider workers attended these meetings —14 in one instance. People with disabilities can wait their entire lives without receiving the help they need. Provision for adequate resources needs to be the priority.

Marianne Darton, Balnarring, Victoria

LISA Comment: "Well said Marianne!"

Bureaucratic waste is everywhere within DHS Victoria!

Unlike non-government services (CSOs), the department’s reactive management has endless government money to ‘buy its way’, rather than properly and proactively manage its way.

CSOs have to efficiently manage their services, whilst the department keeps most of its state government budget for itself – to blunder from one disaster to the next. As no one cares, no one ‘owns the company’ and nothing is anyone’s responsibility in this public service captive market where consumers have no choice and must feel eternally grateful for any crumbs they may get from the totally out-of-control juganaught – DHS Victoria.

Posted by: Hatton AT 12:47 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 01 2012

Introduction/Overview:

The freedom to make decisions which affect our lives is a fundamental right that each of us should enjoy.

The decisions and choices that we make are a reflection of who we are as individuals. They allow us to express our views, our personalities, our desires and goals as well as to reflect what we think is important in life. Through these choices and decisions we can pursue the lifestyles that we want.

Outcomes of decisions - good and bad - help us learn and grow as individuals. Through involvement in decision making we can gain experience, confidence and knowledge which enrich our lives.

Making and being involved in decisions also allows us to participate in our communities and broader society. Through this active participation we feel greater connection to and responsibility for our communities. A sense of control in home life and at work is also linked to better health and wellbeing outcomes.

Where people are denied the right to make decisions, or are restricted by others as to the type of decisions they can make, they are potentially being denied their human rights.

We all make decisions based on the best information that is available to us. This includes advice and support from friends, partners, family members and other significant people in our lives as well as past experiences.

People with a disability are no different in this regard. However some people may require some additional assistance in order to be able to make and express choices. Such assistance might include access to communication aids or translators, information in different formats, longer timeframes or different environments in which to make decisions.

Some people may require more specific support to make decisions, including reminders of previous decisions and more explanation of the implications of their decisions.

People with a disability may also be excluded from decision making processes that affect them because others make incorrect assumptions they don't have capacity to understand issues or consequences, or others believe they know what is best for them.

Where assistance is required but not provided people with a disability are not fully involved in decision making.

Self-directed support:
This guide recognises and supports a human rights-based approach to services for people with a disability. It has been developed as part of the Victorian Government's reorientation of disability services to self-directed approaches and to make it easier for people with a disability to pursue individual lifestyles.

This reorientation changes the roles of service users and providers. Rather than being service 'recipients', people become active participants in planning and obtaining the supports they feel will best meet their needs and goals.

Whilst service providers retain a responsibility for service quality and outcomes, their role is more in enabling; providing advice and support to help people with a disability exercise as much choice and control as possible over their life.

These changing roles will require adjustment by people with a disability, and support workers and service providers. This guide is intended to assist in this process for service providers, people with a disability and their supporters by providing approaches to decision making which underpin lifestyle choices.

The guide offers a principles-based approach to supporting decision making by people with a disability for use by the disability sector as a whole. It represents one step in communicating and facilitating the change that needs to occur in disability services to ensure that people with a disability can, to the greatest extent that they are able, exercise the basic right to make choices and decisions.

.

Posted by: Hatton AT 12:49 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 01 2012

WEB LINK

On 1 March 2010, the Australian Government introduced the new and improved Disability Employment Services, delivering more effective employment assistance for job seekers with disability.

Representing an investment of over $1.7 billion over the next three years, Disability Employment Services are a significant improvement in services for people with disability, their families and carers and employers. Job seekers with disability will have immediate access to tailored services that are flexible and responsive to both their needs and those of employers.

Posted by: Hatton AT 12:42 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, February 28 2012

The Department of Human Services is embarking on major reform to deliver more integrated, family-centred services for vulnerable Victorians.

This follows last year’s announcement of a new approach to case management and service delivery, which is being trialled in Dandenong and Geelong and the South West Coast.

A comprehensive review of the department has taken place and we have proposed how the department will restructure to improve the quality of its services to make a real difference for Victorians.

Last year alone, the department managed 55,000 child protection reports, provided 31,000 clients with disability aids and equipment and supported 39,000 homeless people.

Victoria’s population is projected to increase significantly over the next 20 years. Demand for community services is very high already and is expected to increase.

To meet these demands, we are proposing major changes to the department’s structure that will help us to provide more responsive, family-centred services for vulnerable Victorians.

The key changes are:-

The department’s regional operations will be organised into 17 local areas, putting more focus on the frontline and providing improved services when and where people need them. The 17 local areas will be based on geographic catchments reflecting trends in population growth and service demand across the state.

- The 17 local areas will be supported by four regional divisions (North, South, East and West).

- The areas will manage service delivery with government and non-government organisations in a more integrated way, along functional rather than program lines.

- The areas will have greater decision-making power over local services and the ability to allocate resources depending on the needs of that area. Some of the local areas will have – for the first time – a senior manager to drive better, and more coordinated services at the local level, integrated across housing, disability and family services.

- The areas will have a greater focus on achieving lasting outcomes for people through early intervention and building opportunities for social and economic participation.

The department’s central office will be consolidated to remove program silos, reduce duplication and increase efficiency. There will be three central office groups: Policy and Strategy; Service Design and Implementation; and Corporate Services.

- The three groups will replace the current seven divisions in central office.

- This arrangement reorganises central office along functional rather than program lines, by integrating policy, program management and corporate functions across the departmen.

The creation of two Deputy Secretary roles to respectively oversee a Community and Executive Services portfolio and a Housing, Youth and Women portfolio.

- These roles will have primary responsibility for providing high quality and responsive policy advice to the Secretary and Ministers.

A comprehensive consultation process with the department’s staff has begun, with implementation of these important changes happening over the next 12–18 months.

This restructure is just part of our broader service reform program, which will build a strong and responsive human services system – one that is set up to achieve the best possible outcomes for our most vulnerable people.

MAJOR CHANGES

WHAT GILL CALLISTER SAID

Some of the key points - “What do they mean in nuts and bolts?”

  • “Focused on improving client outcomes through service delivery reform and developing a sustainable workforce”
  • “How it needs to change to be able to provide more joined up and responsive services for our clients”.
  • “Two leading experts have guided a comprehensive review”
  • “More integrated, family-centred services for our clients”
  • “Build a strong and responsive human services system – one that is set up to achieve the best possible outcomes for our most vulnerable people”
  • “Focus on business excellence and continuous improvement”
  • “Vision for improving the way we deliver services”
  • “Develop a new ‘joined up’ model of case management”
  • “Improve our services if we listen to our clients’ experiences of them”

 

Posted by: Hatton AT 12:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, February 22 2012

It’s a government lottery, with no guesses as to which will be last or never occur in a meaningful way.

Bill Shorten says the NDIS pit is so deep, we will never hear the coin touch the bottom. Yet with that philosophy, Mr Shorten, on Q&A, claims it will occur. What he does not say is, how much it will be watered-down, if it does occur.

Certainly, there is an urgent need for NDIS funding to provide for the huge level of unmet needs – those families doing it tough with little or no hope for the future but to keep on keeping-on caring for their adult family member ‘till they drop. However, there is a lot of cleaning-up of existing services pending any level of NDIS, or similar.

The Victorian Government has produced an action plan entitled “Human Services – The Case for Change”.

This document explains how we can, and should be, building on the strengths of the existing system to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable Victorians and their families. But despite our common purpose of supporting people out of disadvantage, major improvements can still be made to connect individual efforts and achieve better life outcomes for vulnerable people.

If existing services can be made more accountable for their service provision, including better customer service, then when some NDIS funding finally arrives, consumers and their families will have less battle to achieve reasonable quality of care for their family member.

Bill Shorten speech to ALP National Conference, NDIS

Human Services - The Case for Change

 

 

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 18 2012

The Department of Human Services fails to condemn and properly control the driving of department vehicles in unsuitable footwear – especially thongs.

Failing to properly control quality of care practices, like driving department vehicles in unsuitable footwear, is yet another example of the department’s overall reactive management of its services for vulnerable people.

The department’s disability services has policies regarding the wearing of unsuitable footwear for staff safety, client safety and the ability of staff to provide a duty of care in often adverse circumstances in its group homes. Yet this department has no firm policy on the driving of its vehicles in unsuitable footwear!

There is almost an epidemic of direct care staff wearing basic thongs whilst on duty, even in the sight of their management. This is yet another a very clear illustration of strongly supported findings of ‘reactive’ rather than ‘proactive’ management being number-one reason for the massive range of on-going care problems throughout disability services.

Victoria Police say it is not against the law to drive in unsuitable footwear, but they strongly condemn the practice. Yet, there is no restriction on driving state government vehicles in unsuitable footwear. Therefore, DHS direct-care staff are free to drive vulnerable group home residents, in house mini buses, wearing basic thongs.

Many of these residents have little ability to help themselves if the vehicle was involved in an accident where there was significant damage and/or fire. The driver wearing just basic thongs (assuming they were still on the person’s feet) would be seriously limited in their ability to assist those for whom they have a duty of care, let alone a moral responsibility

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:12 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 12 2012

By Maris Beck of The Age, Melbourne, Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Department of Human Services showed an "adversarial, ‘win-at-all-costs’ attitude, the likes of which I have rarely seen", said a magistrate in Melbourne.

A foster mother wept in court yesterday as a magistrate ordered she be reunited with her long-term foster children and berated the Department of Human Services, which he said psychologically harmed the children by removing them against their will almost 11 months ago.

The Children's Court magistrate said the department had shown an "adversarial, win-at-all-costs attitude, the likes of which I have rarely seen" and had done "whatever it could" to prevent the return of the children to their foster mother.

The children, who had been in their foster mother's care since 2007 and called her "Mum", were removed last March after the department disagreed with her on issues such as her attempt to enrol the children (some of whom are intellectually disabled) in a special school, and the carer disagreed with the department's view that the children should be prescribed Ritalin, a drug for attention deficit disorder.

The magistrate said the children were "suffering ongoing emotional harm" since the removal, in which the court previously heard the department had arrived unannounced at their school and taken them under a police guard to live almost 200 kilometres away, with their carer permitted infrequent and supervised contact.

He recommended the children, aged seven to 11, go back to their carer immediately, ordered the guardianship of the department's secretary be extended only until February 13, and ordered the department to apply to place the children in the foster mother's permanent care.

The magistrate said the department's attitude was "now so hostile that ongoing involvement of the department in their lives is contra-indicated".

In defiance of the non-binding recommendation the children's return be immediate, counsel for the department said they would not be returned yesterday. The department was considering its rights of appeal.

The magistrate, who had earlier in the hearing noted a recalcitrant attitude by the department, told it that if it did not return the children, it could be considered to be causing ongoing harm and be open to Supreme Court action.

He ordered it to pay some of the carer's court costs, a total of $1760, to cover three "fairly small" instances in which he deemed the department had acted irresponsibly or mischievously to prolong proceedings.

Speaking outside the court, the carer said the children were "my angels" and the magistrate's order "meant everything" to her.

The children's lawyer said it was disappointing the department had not agreed to hand them back immediately and they would suffer as long as they were away from their foster mother.

A department spokesman said it was "reading the judgment very carefully and we will act in the best interests of vulnerable children". Identities of those in the case cannot be published for legal reasons.

LISA Inc Comment: This is a very traditional attitude of this totally out of control government department. The ‘power over people’ attitude, is very similar for people with disabilities and their families. Vulnerable people suffer in the hand of the power hungry, captive market, secure employment, no need for customers or customer service, public servants. Successive ministers have totally failed to reign-in the overwhelming and ever growing power of this out-of-control juganaught!

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, January 01 2012

DHS Victoria pulled the contract on a NFP, CSO.

ABC Report - November 2011

The State Government terminated its contract with Community Connections Limited, after the DHS found a series of breaches had not been addressed.

The group runs a care home for 12 children at Warrnambool.

The chief executive of Community Connections, Bruce Du Vergier, says the breaches have been addressed and is seeking legal advice.

"They have no reason whatsoever, no substantial reason to withdraw the contract of residential care program," he said.

The assistant secretary of the Australian Services Union (ASU), Lisa Darmanin, says the moves validate its concerns about the organisation.

"The ASU is pleased to see the Department of Human Services take some action on concerns raised over an extended period of time," she said.

The DHS will transfer care of the children to other agencies in the region from December 6, 2011

LISA Inc. maintains CSOs can be made accountable for service level and quality through the potential to terminate service contracts, in contrast with DHS direct care service which have no such potential for accountability for service provision.

Although this example demonstrates the DHS do have the guts to terminate CSO contracts, there should be an independent of government tribunal to review such cases 

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:20 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 22 2011

On Wednesday 14 December 2011, the Victorian Government released Human Services: The case for change.

The Hon. Mary Wooldridge, Minister for Mental Health, Women’s Affairs and Community Services, and The Hon. Wendy Lovell, Minister for Housing, Children and Early Childhood Development, launched the document to key sector partners at the Human Services Partnership Implementation Committee (HSPIC) Partnering Dialogue - Realising our potential: department, sector and community.

Minister Wooldridge and Minister Lovell said the document outlines the need for system-wide change, and explains how we can, and should, be building on the strengths of the existing system to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable Victorians and their families.

Many improvements have been made in all of the services that DHS funds and delivers, and in the human services system more broadly, but we need to consider whether our services are making a lasting positive impact on the people we assist.

Despite decades of growing prosperity, significant levels of disadvantage persist in Victoria. Even where services have positive outcomes, external drivers – in particular population growth and ageing – make it more difficult to reduce overall levels of disadvantage. If growth in the volume and complexity of demand is not addressed, the system will be unsustainable over the medium to long term.

A new approach is needed to reverse this trend, starting with changes in the way DHS does business.

The document outlines a vision of a service system which supports and protects the vulnerable as its first priority, which is client-centred and demonstrably achieves improved outcomes for clients, to reduce disadvantage in Victoria in the long term. It sets out five core principles that will guide our approach to moving towards such a system:

People are at the centre of everything we do.

We take all of our clients’ life circumstances into account, and work with individuals and families to improve their outcomes. We recognise the diversity of our clients and are guided by their needs and choices

People in need should have access to the right support, provided in a cost-effective way.

Supporting clients to lead independent and meaningful lives by building their capabilities is the long-term goal.

All parts of the human services system should work together.

By aligning and integrating the human services system we can reduce duplication and focus on shared outcomes for our clients.

A skilled workforce is key to a more integrated system and to better client outcomes.

Our workforce should have the skills, tools and the right accountabilities to support clients to improve their lives.

Victorians who access our services will be valued, respected and treated fairly at all times.


The first step in this process of change will be delivering on the Government’s commitment to reform case management in two lead sites: Dandenong and Geelong/South West.

Case management reform will immediately assist those clients in most need, with the most complex problems, while providing a strong platform for larger scale system reform.

Consultation with the broader human services sector, our workforce and service delivery partners and other stakeholders will be undertaken in the coming months to inform the next steps on this reform journey.

The Case for Change - Full Report

LISA Comment: Clearly there is either a 'hidden-agenda', or a 'too-hard-basket'. As the serious need to reform or remove DHS/DS/DAS direct care group-home services is conspicuous by its absence.

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:27 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 08 2011

Liberal spokesperson on disability Senator Mitch Fifield has called the bluff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the desperately needed National Disability Insurance Scheme

Fifield’s comments echo the thoughts of over 80% of the respondents to the Disability Speaks online survey on NDIS.

In an address to CEO’s of major disability organisations in Canberra Fifield has indicated that Bi Partisan support by the Liberals was no longer a given.

In strong language the Liberal spokesperson has belittled the financial commitment of the ALP to additional disability support claiming

· The ALP has provided no guaranteed timeline for NDIS

· The recently announced NDIs agency is questionable

· There is no new money for NDIS

In what will be seen by the disability sector as a devastating blow to NDIS, anger is sure to erupt particularly given the failure of Fifield to suggest an alternative to NDIS given his personal admissions of the depth of understanding of the disability crisis.

Disability Speaks knows if Gillard wants to regain the faith of the disability sector she has only one option available to her.

That is to put her money where her mouth is!

This needs to be in the form of short term crisis funding as recommended by the Productivity Commission and a long term NDIS funding plan attached to a commencement date.

NDIS now officially has the wobbles. Only Gillard and the ALP can save it!

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/national/national/general/liberals-rear-up-over-disability-scheme/2383876.aspx

David Holst
Chair - Disability Speaks Steering Committee & Intellectual Disability Association of S.A (IDASA)

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:41 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 01 2011

Little wonder a report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers shows Australians with a disability are at greater risk of living at or below the poverty line than people with disabilities in other OECD countries.

“The Federal government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook mini-budget has not budgeted a single red cent for establishing a National Disability Insurance Scheme, not a cracker.

And in the week leading up to the celebrations of International Day of People with Disabilities, not much to celebrate ” says MaryLou Carter, secretary of the Carers Alliance.

“Since 2008 people with disabilities, carer-families and people who care for and care about people disabilities have had their expectations raised with a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in prospect, what now?”

“As recently as a week ago, at the National Disability Awards Night, Ms Gillard was assuring people with disabilities that her government was committed to the introduction of the NDIS.”

Yet when it comes to backing that commitment with the dollars necessary for establishing such a Scheme by 2013, the Federal government has squibbed.

Over 24,000 new Commonwealth Public Servants have been employed by the Federal government since 2007 – how many of those were people with disabilities?

While the Federal government has spoken many worthy words in earnest about a National Disability Insurance Scheme, the cruel reality was clearly shown in this week’s mini-budget: The Federal government’s intention is to do nothing to implement the very initiative that will give people with disabilities and their families .

Carers Alliance calls on the Federal government to make good its promises. Introduce the legislation to implement a National Disability Insurance Scheme. There is this guarantee Tony Abbott will not say No.

“It’s not what is said but what is done that matters. The recent Census made sure every Australian was counted it’s up to the Federal government to make sure Every Australian Counts.”

Media Contact: MaryLou Carter , Secretary, Carers Alliance 0425 363 422

Carers Alliance is a federal political party formed to promote a better life for and advance interests of people with disabilities and carer-families who support them

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 29 2011

Media Release, The Hon Jenny Macklin MP. Minister for Family, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 21 November 2011

The Impairment Tables used to assess people’s eligibility for the Disability Support Pension will be able to be updated for the first time in more than ten years, as a result of legislation passed through Parliament today.

People who apply for the Disability Support Pension from the 1st January 2012 will be assessed under the new Impairment Tables.

The legislation will ensure the Impairment Tables are able to be updated regularly and enable the introduction of new Tables that are consistent with modern medical and rehabilitation practice. The Impairment Tables are used in Disability Support Pension assessments to measure how a person's impairment affects their ability to work.

They were last reviewed in 1993 and contain anomalies and inconsistencies which have distorted the assessment process. For example, when hearing impairment is assessed, a person with a hearing aid is not required to wear it but someone who is having their sight impairment assessed must wear their glasses.

An Advisory Committee consisting of medical, allied health and rehabilitation experts, representatives of people with disability, mental health advocates and relevant Government agencies was established in April 2010. Following a thorough review and extensive consultation, the Advisory Committee found the current Impairment Tables are longer consistent with contemporary medical and rehabilitation practice, and recommended new Impairment Tables.

The Government has been continuing to consult with disability stakeholders and medical experts to ensure the recommended new Tables are implemented fairly and effectively from 1 January next year. The new Impairment Tables focus on what people are able to do, rather than what they can’t do.

From 1 July 2012 we are introducing a range of reforms to encourage greater participation by DSP recipients.

• Introduce new participation requirements for disability support pensioners under the age of 35 with some capacity to work to build their capacity

• Provide more generous rules for existing disability pensioners to encourage them to work more hours

• Support employers to take on more disability pensioners through new financial incentives

The Advisory Committee’s review of the Disability Support Pension Impairment Tables and recommended new Tables can be viewed at:

http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/payments/Pages/dsp_impairment_tables.aspx

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, November 27 2011

“The impetus to always keep CRUs looking clean detracts from the need to provide support to residents [PCAS/PBS etc]”, says the office of the Public Advocate (OPA) – Victoria. More from the OPA attached.

“Current disability support arrangements are inequitable, underfunded, fragmented, and inefficient and give people with a disability little choice. The current arrangements cannot be called a genuine 'system'”, says the Productivity Commission’s Report of July 2011, Volume 1, ‘Overview’, page 5.

“Some houses operate from an 'institution' mindset, catering for residents' physical needs rather than operating like a home where residents are encouraged to develop an independence limited only by their own capacity". The reactive nature of DHS's response to accommodation needs, combined with the stringent prioritisation criteria, is likely to continue, and therefore perpetuate a crisis-driven system”, says the Victorian Auditor General's Report, Mar 2008.

The million dollar question is:

Will the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) have the charisma/power to change these extremely powerful and entrenched detrimental attitudes which have developed as a direct result of:

“Captive market ‘reactive’ not ‘proactive’ service management”, especially government direct service provision, and which people with a disability and their families have suffered for decades”.

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:12 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, November 25 2011

These are just the living expenses, not the support costs

The expenses are not comprehensive, but a common example

CSO (Community Service Organisation):
The DSP is $689.00: 75% of $689.00 = $516.75 + Rent Assistance of $47.20 = $563.95 paid to CSO as an Accommodation Fee. Client, therefore, has $172.25 + DSP Supplement of 59.80 = $232.05 for personal expenditure, clothing, etc.
All figures are pf.

With an annual expenditure of (example):-

ATSS Placement Fees $1019
ATSS Program Fees 960
Clothes 500
Pharmacy 500
Personal Expenditure 1440
Total pa 4419

CSO Client's surplus after "Living Expenses" (see above) $232pf = $5568pa
4419
1149pa
Client has remaining $48pf

DHS (Department of Human Services - Victoria)
The DSP is $689.00 + Supplement of $59.80 + Rent Assistance of $47.20 = $796.00 - $321.76 Rent & Housekeeping/Utilities (Accommodation Fee) = $474.24 client, therefore, has for personal expenditure, clothing, etc.
All figures are pf.

With an annual expenditure of (example):-

ATSS Placement Fees $1019
ATSS Program Fees 960
Clothes 500
Pharmacy 500
Personal Expenditure 1440
Total pa 4419

DHS Client's surplus after "Living Expenses" (see above) $474pf = $11376pa
4419
6957pa
Client has remaining $290pf

Please feel free to comment on these figures. We are interested in your feedback, good or bad. Contact details are on the website. By mail to be covert.

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 21 2011

Experiences of Restrictive Practices: “A view from people with disabilities and family carers”

Some extracts/key findings from the Report:

• The report finds that advocates and families often have to fight to the very top for their views to be heard – page 2.
• The report finds that restrictions are never recorded but are implemented by staff to maintain overall control of a setting – page 2
• The report finds services are withdrawn, changed or reduced where staff attitudes are negative – page 2
• The report finds that because of the behaviour of a few clients, other clients have had to sacrifice rights and choices –page 3.
• The report finds that there should be an open door policy for families and advocates – page 3.
• The report finds that behaviours of concern is a potential for lack of staff interaction with clients – page 3.
• The report finds the department (DHS/DS Victoria) should listen to the voices of people with disabilities, families and carers (customers) – page 4.
• The report finds that the department (DHS/DS Victoria) should work with families and people with disabilities, collaboratively and cooperatively –page 4.
• The report finds that families, carers and advocates should have access and scrutiny rights – page 4.
• The report finds that there should be a review of incident reporting mechanisms at department (DHS/DS Victoria) level page 4.

LISA Comment: Our restrictive practice and questionable activity findings are these and many, many more, for which the department is in total denial, with its reactive management compounding service level and quality problems for clients, in preference to staff welfare.

LINK to Full Report

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:30 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, November 02 2011

One of the major problems for people with an intellectual or multiple disability, and their families, is service level and quality outcomes – What is happening, if anything, behind those closed doors? Is the service meeting consumer expectations, service agreements and service standards? Is the service actually meeting consumer needs and family expectations?

Those in our society who are limited in their ability to enjoy all the facets of the life most of the general population take for granted, deserve the very best their ability will allow, and the best they can be proactively encouraged to achieve.

With the present captive market service provision, as a direct result of an under supply of services directly resulting from inadequate funding and government bureaucratic waste, service provision attitude is mostly: “take it, or leave it”.

Therefore, with little opportunity for market-place driven quality until NDIS, there are a few factors intended to look behind those closed doors. Although the present captive market service providers are not too keen on being scrutinised by such as, “Community Visitors and Independent Accreditation”.

They are certainly not keen to release the outcomes of such scrutiny. Despite DHS publications which say, (a) "It is the responsibility of the disability service provider to communicate audit findings to service users, family members and carers", (b) "Disability service providers must inform service users, family members and carers about how they can be involved in the audit process" and, (c) “Service user participation is an important part of the audit process. Disability service providers are required to inform all service users of the audit and provide them with an opportunity to:
• participate in the audit, particularly providing an invitation to attend the
opening and closing meetings.
• be involved in the continuous improvement process.

The initial phase of NDIS should bring new service providers, as more federal funding gets into the market place to provide services to those on the waiting list. It is the second phase which should be of concern, as this will provide ISPs (Individualised Funding) to the current residents of group homes, many of these being government direct service (DHS in Victoria).

Having had captive market and power over people luxury for years, these large government services will not wish to compete for ISP business with non-government services, We, therefore, estimate they will be devising methods to retain their empire at the expense of consumers. Many residents of DHS group homes have no family or no interested family, and many families would do little more than hand a NDIS ISP to the DHS, to carry on as usual.

Currently in Victoria, the DHS is an out-of-control juganaught. It is the landlord and service provider of a large number of group homes in the state, it funds and regulates most non-government services, it controls most placements in Victoria, it retains its group home residents by refusing to give them residential tenancy rights and individualised funding. And the same despotic action restricts its residents bringing in a non-government service provider.

Without serious Federal Government intervention, there is little hope for the existing residents of DHS group homes ever realising the primary intention of the, “National Disability Services (NDS)” – Victorian Disability Services Transition Plan – that of:-
• People with a disability, their families and carers at the centre of service delivery.
• Real outcomes for people with a disability

 

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, October 28 2011

The Gillard Government’s controversial changes to the Social Security Act – which includes changes to the Impairment Tables used to determine eligibility for the Disability Support Pension - have passed through Parliament.

With the legislation passing through the Senate with coalition backing, people who apply for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) from the 1st January 2012 will be assessed under the new Impairment Tables.

The Impairment Tables are used in Disability Support Pension assessments to measure how a person's impairment affects their ability to work, and were last reviewed in 1993.

The government unveiled its plan to get people off the Disability Support Pension and into the workforce in July, revealing that the number of people receiving the DSP had reached 800,000, growing by 100,000 over the last 2 years alone. The changes to the Impairment Tables are estimated to save the government $35 million a year.

The Gillard Government said the legislation will ensure the Impairment tables “are able to be updated regularly and enable the introduction of new Tables that are consistent with modern medical and rehabilitation practice.” The Gillard government said the new tables “focus on what people are able to do, rather than what they can’t do”, however this has not stopped criticism of the changes.

The Greens say the government and coalition have united in supporting changes to the Social Security Act that are likely to lead to deeply unjust outcomes for vulnerable people. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said her party supports efforts to assist people into the workforce, however the changes will push large numbers of people with disabilities onto the Newstart allowance, a payment which is $131 a week below the DSP.

It has been estimated that as many as four out of every ten people who qualified for the Disability Support Pension earlier this year would not qualify under the new regime which is set to come into effect in 2012.

As well as less financial assistance, people will be forced to meet stricter activity requirements in a deeply inhospitable labour market

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, October 20 2011

The “Office for Disability” is now within the power- base of the “Department of Human Services”!

The “Office for Disability” was set-up within the “Department of Planning and Community Development”, in 2006, independent of the “Department of Human Services”, with a mandate to put disability on the agenda across the Victorian Government.

The Office's role was to provide independent expert policy advice and support for the Minister for Community Services to implement a coordinated whole-of-government response to disability. And, to encourage all government departments, including the DHS, to have the right policies and practices for people with disabilities.

One of the main aims of the “Office for Disability” was to encourage and influence Victorian Government policy and activities to improve outcomes for people with a disability and to deal with barriers to participation in our communities.

Given there are few, if any watch-dogs over the DHS, it was refreshing to have the “Office for Disability”, isolated from the DHS, at the “Department of Planning and Community Development”, despite their gentle bark and no bite.

With the “Office for Disability” having no independent statutory, it was easy meat for the DHS to takeover this external voice - to tow the party-line from within their ranks.

Even so, those “Independent Statutory Bodies”, pseudo government departments, circle and protect the DHS from public scrutiny.

There is, therefore, only one person in the State of Victoria who can direct the DHS juganaught – “The Minister for Community Services”! It is, however, traditional government practice for Minister’s to defend their department from any form of customer or public scrutiny. 

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:24 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, October 07 2011

DHS, DSR, Restrictive Practice – Victoria

Those with high support needs require two basic support packages – “Accommodation Support” and “Day Service”

Everyone who lives in a state government funded supported accommodation group home for people with an intellectual or multiple disability, has a level of unit-cost funding depending on the level of support they are considered to need. This is the cost of support. The cost of living (rent, food, utilities, clothes, recreation, etc), is from the person’s DSP, or other sources of income.

Traditional accommodation support, unit-cost, funding for each person in a group home is through “bulk-funding”, for which the person or their family, currently, has no right of access. A ball-park figure for each person is around $120,000pa.

Placement and re-location of those on “bulk-funding” is through the DHS controlled DSR (Disability Support Register). With “bulk-funding”, both the person and the service provider are under the total control of the DSR Committee.

In contrast, where a person has “Accommodation Support ISP-Funding”, they may directly seek a supported accommodation service. Whereas, a person on similar unit-cost “Accommodation Support Bulk-Funding”, the DSR select the service provider – the person has no choice of, or say in the matter. And, they are not permitted to convert their existing bulk-funding to ISP-funding.

With the Accommodation Support unit-cost funding called “bulk”, the person has to go through the DSR, with no choice of service provider. Whereas, if the similar unit-cost funding is called “ISP”, the person is free to directly seek a service provider of their choice.

If all DHS bulk-funded accommodation support unit-cost funding was directly to ISP funding, a mere name change, almost all group home residents in Victoria would have early taste of NDIS intentions - CHOICE of Service provider, rather than a despotic and restrictive practice DSR, and their residential tenancy rights blocked by section 23 of the Residential Tenancies Act - Victoria. 

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, September 11 2011

The NSW Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Andrew Constance MP, would be pleased to receive nominations for membership of the NSW Disability Council for a term of up to four years duration. The Minister seeks to appoint up to a maximum of 6 members to the NSW Disability Council.

The NSW Disability Council is the official adviser to the NSW Government on issues affecting people with a disability, their families and carers.

The Minister values the diversity of membership on the NSW Disability Council and strongly welcomes applications from people with a disability from diverse cultural backgrounds, from Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities and from regional, rural and remote NSW.

Selection Criteria

Appointment to the NSW Disability Council will be made on the basis that applicants can demonstrate that they meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Personal experience of disability, as a person with a disability or as a family member or carer of a person with a disability;
  • Knowledge, skills and experience in policy development, delivering disability services, providing advice to government and/or driving change in disability or other social policy areas;
  • Commitment to participation within networks that enable the development and dissemination of sound advice based on community contact;
  • Expertise, knowledge or experience in relation to one or more of the following: Aboriginal people with a disability; People with a disability in regional, rural or remote communities; and People with a disability from CALD backgrounds.

The Council usually meets on a monthly basis in the Sydney office.

Members receive attendance fees and out of pocket expenses for approved participation in meetings and events in accordance with the remuneration guidelines of NSW Premier and Cabinet for NSW Board and Committee members.

Further information: For an information package on how to apply for membership, please contact

Adam Bannon, Project Officer, NSW Disability Council:
Level 19, 323 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW 2000
Telephone: (02) 8217 2805
Email: adam.bannon@dhs.nsw.gov.au

For additional information about the work of the NSW Disability Council contact

Melinda Savvides, Executive Officer, NSW Disability Council:
Telephone: (02) 8217 2809
Email: melinda.savvides@dhs.nsw.gov.au

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, September 10 2011
  1. Both DHS and CSO managed services will be subject to independent monitoring.
  2. Independent quality monitoring will commence from July 2009 and will focus on outcomes, involve support users, their families and carers in the process.
  3. A quality system assists us to consistently implement the standards across the disability sector, continuously improve and achieve a culture of quality in our services, focus the delivery of our services on outcomes for people with a disability and strengthen safeguards for people with a disability.
  4. Providing high quality services is about meeting the needs, requirements and expectations of people with a disability, their family members and carers.
  5. Principle that underpin the quality framework is “Human Rights” and “Quality Management”.
  6. The principles provide the means to ensure there is a consistent approach to quality management practice across disability service provision in Victoria.
  7. People with a disability and their family members should have opportunities to have a say and be involved in decision making about the service.
  8. People with a disability and their family members and carers should be empowered to have a say in the services we provide. By listening to and acting upon the needs, concerns, ideas and suggestions of support users, we can use their knowledge, expertise and experience to make improvements to the quality of service delivery and outcomes for people with a disability.
  9. Benefits of effective consumer participation provide opportunities for improved, more positive, relationships between people with a disability, their family members and carers and service providers.
  10. Family members and carers must be involved in decision making an choices.
  11. The service provider must include family members, carers and personal networks in processes to monitor service quality, consumer satisfaction and outcomes.
  12. People with a disability are supported to extend hospitality to family and friends in their own homes.
  13. Our practice includes how we work with families.
  14. Managers should develop a culture of continuos improvement and spend more time and resources on planning rather than reacting to problems and crises.
  15. Does our quality system enable us to reflect on the way the service works and what results are being achieved.

QUOTATIONS FROM THE DHS PUBLICATION RESIDENTIAL SERVICE PRACTICE MANUAL

  1. The role of direct care support staff is to provide consistent and high quality support according to a range of policy and legislative requirements.
  2. Direct care support staff should assist people with a disability by doing things with them not so much for them, and in developing their skills.
  3. Direct care support staff need to understand and work according to departmental policies and standards.
  4. Direct care support staff should work cooperatively in a team.
  5. Objectives of the Disability Act 2006 makes disability service providers accountable to persons accessing disability services.
  6. Transition planning must cover a communications strategy for families of existing residents.
  7. People living in the service have limited opportunity to determine whom they live with.
  8. Written records must be legible, logical, sequential, signed and dated.
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 05 2011

“Residents and families know their place in our workplace!”

If caught infringing road rules, one faces an almost zero tolerance, non-negotiable penalty! Whereas, public service direct care staff breaking the Department of Human Services, Disability Services (Victoria), care policies, standards and values for the care of very vulnerable people (people with an intellectual or multiple disability) face little more than being moved to another group home, to potentially do the same again.

It is well known, some direct care staff have even openly bragged about their questionable treatment of the residents of department group homes, knowing their public service management are powerless to do more than, at best, and with difficulty, move them to another group home.

A former care worker who witnessed the torture of an intellectually disabled man says he did not come forward immediately, because he feared for his job and safety.

This former care worker, and another, witnessed a fellow Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Disability Accommodation Services worker assault a resident of a DHS group home.

The resident’s feet were burnt with cigarettes. He was forced to drink detergent, was hosed down with a cold water hose in the garden and was pushed hard against the garden fence. And that was only the reported incident!

The witness said he did not report the incident for about 18 months, because he did not believe the Department of Human Services would protect or support him.

This witness said he had been ostracised from his workplace after reporting an incident of abuse in a DHS group home, previously. "I was moved from the group home, threatened with my job and ostracised," he said.

"If you report something, you're seen as a trouble-maker", he said. Despite claiming to uphold the principles of the “Whistle-blowers Act”, this government department’s management (above house supervisor) will persecute and intimidate anyone who attempts to report questionable occurrences against the residents of their group homes.

Why is this, you may well ask? Well, 98% of problems in DHS group homes are caused by the direct care staff. The standard cry of most house supervisors is, “The residents are no problem, it’s the staff!” Quite naturally, therefore, management want to keep the staff confrontation to a minimum, so they can, “Take the pay, and look the other way!”

Therefore, it matters little what happens to the residents, so long as staff keep it quiet, and don’t dob-in each other. Incidents involving residents can easily be covered-up, so long as no one writes an incident report. Even so, most of these conveniently go missing, anyway!

Any direct care staff who feel the urge to raise or report the questionable activities of other staff - don’t. You will be treated as if you are the guilty person! Best to take the pay and look the other way, anonymously (by mail) tell LISA Inc. about it, and/or leave the DHS.

As it is very frustrating for the great many direct care staff who really want to provide real quality of life care, but are frustrated by those who want to do little more than basic minder care.

What Constitutes Lifestyle Quality? What Makes a Good Group Home? See Our Personal Care section on the Resources page

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 31 2011

The recent high court immigration decision (LINK) demonstrates the level of legal and media support available to those seeking to become Australians. Whereas, Australian citizens with a disability get little legal and media support in comparison.

There is an enormous amount of legislation and regulation governing the lives of people with a disability, especially those with an intellectual or multiple disability.

Yet these Australian citizens and their families, have little real access to legal support to help ensure the legislation and associated regulations are effective and implemented to ensure their often limited lifestyle is enhanced to the best possible.

In Victoria, residents of government supported accommodation group homes are denied residential tenancy rights under section 23 of the Residential Tenancies Act, despite they pay rent.

When those unable by reason of their disability to make reasonable judgements in respect of all or any matters concerning their personal circumstances and/or estate become adults, their family support is legally cut by common law which says any person is an adult, with adult ability and responsibilities, at 18 years.

Families who try to reinstate support for their member, through plenary guardianship, face the wrath of VCAT in its use of section 22(c) of the Guardianship & Administration Act to block the family’s application. This is despite their adult family member may be functioning at the level of a 3 year old child.

Even those families who are formal (VCAT) Administrators, for their family member with limited intellectual capacity, face legal constraints. These administrators are legally responsible for the finances of their family member. Yet, legally, they are not permitted to check their family member’s clothing and property, especially if their family member lives in a group home.

Families, naturally, have concerns about the treatment of their family member with limited intellectual capacity living in a supported accommodation group home, and is attending an adult day centre.

These facilities are often covert, with their clients unable to communicate concerns. Yet families are legally blocked, under the common law rule, from accessing their family members activity records.

So no one independent of the service provider ever sees these records. With such barriers to scrutiny and credibility (transparency), it is perhaps not surprising many families are looking towards self-directed services (SDA), through individualised service packages (ISP), in an attempt to move away from the service barriers produced by entrenched bureaucrats.

Whereas, families should not have to seek alternatives to questionable services and processes, as the legal and media fraternity should be willing to assist, as they have and are doing for those seeking to be new Australians.

We call on the legal and media fraternity to give people with a disability and their families more profile and assistance to break down the bureaucratic, restrictive practice, barriers.

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 29 2011

Government ministers are responsible for government departments.

When a member of the public has exhausted all complaint areas within a government department, they refer the matter to the Minister.

Quite naturally, they expect the Minister to question his or her department on their behalf. After all, the Minister was elected by the public, to serve the public.

Whereas, it has become common practice for Ministers to send an original complaint directly to their department, the very department the complaint was against. And to allow that department to reply directly to the person who made the complaint.

So the person making the complaint receives a letter from the department, stating this is a response on behalf of the Minister, referring them back to the actual area to which the original complaint was directed. Ater at least two months, the complainant is no further forward!

Whereas, the responsible action is for the Minister to send a copy of the complaint to his or her department, with a, “Please-explain directly to me!”

Then, it is the Minister who should respond directly to the complainant, having first checked the department’s response for credibility and relevance.

Posted by: Hatton AT 03:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 26 2011

“DISABILITY SPEAKS” from South Australia of, “The widespread concern that the Federal Government has no real intention of attacking the disability crisis in the short term is increasing.

The government while positive in its rhetoric is being highly selective in which parts of the report it wants to highlight and action and of course all this is being done under an umbrella of secrecy of how the Prime Minister intends to pay for the $6.5 billion dollar per annum bill.

Until the Prime Minister details a funding model the chances of NDIS ever happening remains effectively zero.

It’s time to find out how serious Julia is about NDIS. The disability sector cannot wait another 8 years subject to the vagaries of politics and the economy for a solution.”

“LISA INC.” from Victoria says, “This is because ‘Disability’ has a very low profile!"

This is demonstrated in Victoria, where group home supported accommodation is a despotic lottery. Where the lives of disadvantaged people are totally controlled by a government department power broker – the DSR.

If the residents of both government and non-government group homes were given the "service bulk funding" in an ISP, they could have choice of service provider right now.

Posted by: Hatton AT 03:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 26 2011

Department of Human Services, Disability Accommodation Services (DAS), Victoria, Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines for Clothing, Footwear and Accessories Information Bulletin: 11 October 2010 states:

Direct support staff should wear shoes which are:

  • Fully enclose the foot to limit the entry of liquids, sharps, insects or spiders and to minimise injury.
  • Low heeled and flat soled of a material (tread preferred) that reduces the potential of slipping.
  • Thongs are not acceptable footwear.

The guidelines were developed in consultation with Health and Safety Representatives, Work Health staff and members of the DAS Area Occupational Health and Safety Committees.

If a member of staff does not adhere to these guidelines, their line management will take appropriate action

Posted by: Hatton AT 03:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 16 2011

Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) - specifically designed to set and measure goals set jointly between the worker and a service user.

Participants will develop a working understanding of Goal Attainment Scales (GAS) and their application to their work, with particular focus on setting, reviewing and measuring SMART goals. The scales provide an individualised, criterion referenced measure of change, providing a clear expression of plans, outcomes and a measure of attainment of these goals.

Posted by: AT 03:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, August 13 2011

The review of the “Defence Accountability Framework”, by Professor Rufus Black, in the Executive Summary, said:-

Defence has a complex accountability system that has evolved over many years. It has its strengths and weaknesses, however Defence has reached a point in its evolution where there is a strong case to redesign its accountability system

Current arrangements are under stress and their failure damages Defence. This stress is manifested in poor outcomes for Defence. Recent examples include: delivery failures for capability projects; non-compliance with AusTender reporting; poor or inappropriate procurement decision-making; poor outcomes in pay for Special Forces and a lack of cost consciousness in the management of day-to-day activity.

Current accountability arrangements also constrain leadership capability and management capacity by reducing the ability of decision makers to exercise strategic control over the construction and implementation of decisions.

In total contrast, government departments funding, directly supplying and regulating services for people with a disability have little or no accountability framework to review. They need an effective accountability framework. The above negative factors in Defence, are very relevant to government direct and indirect services for people with a disability, especially those with an intellectual or multiple disability.

Perhaps Professor Black can be encouraged to review the accountability and governance of services across Australia for people with a disability, especially those where government departments are directly and indirectly involved.

DEFENCE REVIEW LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 03:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 07 2011

An elderly long time widowed mother, with a son in a Department of Human Services (DHS), Victoria, group home, visits her son each week to take him into the community and lunch with him.

Most time she takes him out, he is poorly dressed. Yet she says he has good clothes, and she can’t understand why he is not dressed better per se, but especially when department staff know he is going out with his mother into the community

This mother feels so intimidated, she does little more than pass the time of day with the house direct care staff.

The mother feels so embarrassed when meeting people she knows, that she pro actively apologies for the way her son is dressed.

Yet, the Office of the Disability Service Commissioner (ODSC), Victoria, an independent statutory body, set up specifically to deal with complaints, actively encourages parents/families to complain, but does little to shield them from the wrath of the all-powerful DHS.

The ODSC, a pseudo government department, certainly does not actively and assertively encourage the DHS, a government department, to provide real customer service within the principles of its ‘Quality Framework’, Section 5.2, ‘Consumer Assessment’, and within the principles of AS ISO10002 - 2006.

Rather, the ODSC has a philosophy of “Equal Opportunity” for both the DHS and the parent/family.

The ODSC feels it is providing a level playing field, with the all-powerful DHS (with no reason for customers or customer service) at one end of the table, and a very weak parent/family at the opposite end. And, the ODSC conciliator in the middle, with a mandate not to help either side.

So why would any parent/family feel other than intimidated in the presence of a service provider who considers the parents/family are lucky to get any service, and should be extremely grateful for whatever they get, as there are many on the ‘Disability Support Register (DSR)’ who are only too willing to take anything on offer for their family member.

Posted by: Hatton AT 03:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 07 2011
The Office of the Disability Service Commissioner in Victoria say the top reason people with a disability and their families don’t complain about questionable services is, “Fear of Intimidation”.

This also applies to direct care staff in supported accommodation group homes.

Despite the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2011, staff who speak out about questionable activities are treated like undesirables – sent to “Coventry”, at best.

Those who are really effective in penetrating bureaucratic green zone defences, can expect to receive the full impact of their missile defence system…..

For the past five years, the Department of Human Services in Victoria, with ministerial support, has electronically blocked/redirected, within the firewall of their statewide web-server, the Emails of LISA Inc Coordinators, Tony & Heather Tregale.

This all powerful government department implemented its discriminatory action with no consultation whatsoever. Tony & Heather had no knowledge of the six page, ministerial approved, directive against them.

It's presence was mooted by the State Ombudsman, and revealed by FOI application. But only two pages would be released. The DHS say they periodically review the matter, but Tony & Heather are never part of that review.

This government department has never justified that which they used to convince the then minister to approve the restriction order. There is no termination date - So it is a life sentence!

These despotic actions of this state government department is little better than those of many third world countries.
Posted by: Hatton AT 12:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, July 27 2011
A resident of a DHS group home where most of the direct care staff were “casual staff”, had just sneakers – these were worn summer and winter.

With the very wet weather this year, the young man’s feet got wet, and remained wet all day at his day service. As a direct result, he got very badly infected feet.

No staff saw it as their responsibility to purchase the young man a good pair of shoes. And many day centres have been intimidated by the DHS not to report questionable occurrences, such as poor clothing, poor grooming and poor lunches.

Indeed, one day service got so sick of DHS clients arriving in unsuitable footwear, that they sought donations of shoes from a shoe store.

Yet another resident of a DHS group home, arrived at his day centre in just socks!

NOTE: “Parents must live forever!”
Posted by: Hatton AT 12:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 19 2011
This state government department provides a large percentage of direct care services throughout the state, funds most of the non government direct care services and controls almost all placements throughout the state, through the DSR (Disability Support Register) – The waiting list for all services funded by the DHS – which is almost all of them.

The department considers the relatively few complaints it receives, in comparison to the number of services it provides, shows it must be doing it right.

It does not consider that any complaint, demonstrates it is not getting it right. The level of complaints is low for the reasons detailed by the ODSC:-
  • fear of being victimised for making a complaint
  • fear of having the service withdrawn
  • being branded as a trouble maker or appearing ungrateful to the service provider
  • lack of confidence that any real or lasting change will eventuate from the complaints process
  • costs that may be associated with pursuing a complaint.
These fears, combined with high levels of unmet need and a lack of alternative service options, are often a strong motivation for people with a disability and their families to put up with a poor service rather than complain. This is further complicated in regional Victoria, where there may be only one disability service provider in an area.

The following factors affecting frequency of complaints also need to be considered by providers when developing, putting into practice and assessing their complaints process and management:
  • Complainants may not be aware of the process
  • The complaints process may not be readily accessible
  • If a complainant has had a negative experience in the past, they may fear unpleasant or unfavourable treatment by the service provider when lodging a current complaint.
Whilst disability service providers may believe that they have sound complaints management systems in place it is important to ascertain the views of service users in order to confirm that this is the case.

Although DHS policy state this should occur, it does not consider complaints as tools to service improvement.

Its management is reactive, not pro-active. Consumers with service level and quality concerns have to repeatedly raise their concerns against department opposition and denial.

Department management frequently state, ‘complaints are the complainants opinion’. Inferring, the complainant is wrong from the outset.

They never come to consumers who have concerns - like good business in the market place who want to enhance their customer relations

It does not consider that 90% of solving a problem, is admitting you have one. The department spends more resources supporting its in-denial strategies, than it would have fixing its strategic problems.

It has no reason to solve customer concerns, as it has a captive market, and consumers can go to no other service which takes funding from the DHS, unless the DHS agree, as the DHS controls the DSR state wide

It cannot solve customer concerns caused directly or indirectly by staff lore, as its management cannot man-manage staff lore.

Staff with secure, public service employment, can claim bullying, intimidation and interference under work cover legislation.
Posted by: Hatton AT 12:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, July 16 2011
A senior manager of Department of Human Services, Disability Accommodation Services (Victoria) said, “I want to be able to sleep at night!” So this manager moved out of DAS!

The manager was unable to sleep well at night, due to the stress of being in a catch-22, and wishing to do meaningful management

The catch-22 was, the manager unable to man-manage traditional public service staff lore. And was, therefore, unable to ensure residents in DHS group homes received quality of life care within departmental care policies standards and values.

Managers and supervisors within DAS and the traditional public service world of secure appearance employment have little choice, to keep their peace of mind, but take the pay and look the other way, or move out of this disaster situation where staff lore is king.
Posted by: Hatton AT 12:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, July 09 2011
The iceberg does not exist according to the Department of Human Services.
Disability Services (DHS) Victoria!

The Office of the Disability Services Commissioner, in Victoria, is an independent statutory body - a pseudo government department - a ‘so called’ independent complaints body for people with a disability and their families.

The Disability Service Commissioner (DSC) says, “A positive complaints culture is one in which people feel comfortable to provide feedback, positive or negative, about the disability supports they receive. This not only empowers the people you support but can also assist in improving the overall quality of the services you provide”.

In contrast, the DSC considers the number of complaints received is just the tip of the iceberg, and the most common factor limiting complaints is fear of intimidation. This is not surprising, given the DHS is in total denial they have any service level or quality problems. They argue this to the extreme, with anyone making a complaint. And the complainant is made to feel guilty/punished/intimidated for daring to question their services.

The DSC is restricted to only being able to accept complaints in relation to ‘individual or personal issues’. They are unable to accept complaints in relation to ‘systemic issues’

As it is the systemic issues which generate the individual issues, the individual issues are “fixed today and back tomorrow” in the revolving door of public service, captive market, safe employment, staff lore - in contrast to management law (departmental care policies, standards and values).

It is the inability of DHS management to properly man-manage staff lore, which allows the generation, festering and re-festering of individual service level and quality issues.

With the DSC unable to consider complaints regarding the failure of DHS management to properly man-manage staff lore, individual issues go around and around in the issue avoidance revolving door.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, July 07 2011
It's over two years since people made submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Supported Accommodation in Victoria.

It’s 12 months since the Victorian Government responded to the Inquiries into the Provision of Supported Accommodation for Victorians with a Disability or Mental Illness

What improvements/changes has the Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria, made to the services for people with an intellectual or multiple disability as a result of this Inquiry?

Terms of Reference

Submissions

The Committee tabled its report for the Inquiry into Supported Accommodation for Victorians with a Disability and/or Mental Illness out of session on 12 January 2010.

The Government Response to the report was tabled out of session on 12 July 2010.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 30 2011
The Victorian Disability Act is a set of laws passed by the state government in 2006. Amongst other things this provided for the set up of a disability services commissioner (DSC)

One of the functions of the DSC’s office is to receive enquiries and complaints about disability services people receive or wish to access. The DSC has no real power to make providers do anything and can generally only conciliate. This means talking about the problem and trying to get a solution.

The commissioner is an ex-DHS employee and some consumers have expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of ex-DHS people in the DSC organization. Additionally they have had teething problems with communication and systems.

The DCS is required to produce an annual report and the 2009-10 report can be viewed on their web site www.odsc.vic.gov.au. This sets out a very detailed analysis of the enquiries and complaints made to the Office of the Disability Services Commissioner (ODSC) as well as the statistics reported by service providers about complaints made directly to them - known as annual complaints reporting (ACR).

In summary the amount of enquiries and complaints reported as being made to the ODSC and to providers has increased by about one third each year and about one third of all complaints involved supported accommodation.

For 2009-10 the ODSC received 571 enquiries of which 157 resulted in a complaint and 63 of these were resolved. Service providers reported having received 1364 complaints.

The ODSC web site encourages complaints – “Its OK to complain” – and does some work in publicity and training to assist people speaking up. But many consumers do not have family or other support, do not know what service quality they should be receiving, do not know their rights, and may be intimidated by the support system that they are so reliant upon. Additionally issues of fear of retribution, language or cultural diversity, and frustration of trying to deal with seemingly huge government departments and service providers suggests that the level of reported complaints is probably only a fraction of the real level of justified dissatisfaction.

Do you have an experience with a complaint? Post a comment.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 22 2011
House Supervisors are expected to be totally responsible and accountable for everything in the house. Yet they have few rights and little authority. They are unlikely to be supported by line management when attempting to set, monitor and maintain direct care staff work value within departmental care policies, standards, guidelines and values, and within staff job descriptions!

If a House Supervisor comes into the house at times when not “rostered-on”, stays after their shift, comes in early or phones staff at the house when he or she is not on duty…. This is frequently grounds for a successful harassment complaint by direct care staff with HACSU support against weak DHS management who are also intimidated by direct care staff into not visiting a house without giving prior notice to staff.

So although held responsible and accountable, a House Supervisor is rarely permitted to be a pro-active and responsible supervisory person. And, is not sufficiently empowered to address the needs and aspirations of the residents for whom he/she is responsible

People promoted to the position of supervisor should be made aware that:-

“Although you are now officially a House Supervisor, under no circumstances should you attempt to supervise!” This is because:-

1. In most circumstances, you are unlikely to be supported by your line management!

2. You will have to fight the public service management issue-avoidance bureaucracy alone, in every way, to support your residents to receive the care and quality lifestyle set by the department’s own care policies, standards, guidelines and values.

3. At any time you could have HACSU supported, militant direct care staff undermining any attempt you make to have residents receive quality care and support. These staff wish to have “leisure time at work”, and will claim you are bullying them if you make any attempt to direct them, or question their actions!

4. Management will most likely cave-in to your subordinates complaints and demands, no matter how unreasonable or unfounded these may be!

5. Management will almost certainly make you the scapegoat, to help make the problem/s go away, and to cover their own backsides!

Are you still feeling lucky in getting the position? No! Maybe? Well, see how you feel after attempting to do just a fraction of what is in your job description!

Even with good staff, you are likely to battle every day against the entrenched management attitudes and practices described above. With entrenched staff - forget it! Either keep your head low and ignore what is going on around you, or move to the NGOs.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 21 2011
The Productivity Commission is proposing NDIS have “Market Driven Quality”. This makes it easy on the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency), but hard on the person with a disability and their family, as they have to shop for service suitability and quality. And, services which operate on just the person’s federal funded service package, will be exempt from service quality standards… Unless NDIA develops a standards package.

In this regard, it is interesting to see the DHS in Victoria is just in the process of developing yet another standards package. CSO (non government) service providers just get settled on being compliant with a DHS standards package, and the DHS change it. So here we go again! CSOs will just get settled on this “One DHS Standards” package, and the NDIA will develop standards for its individualised funding packages.

If the NDIA does not develop service quality standards, it will be easy for commercial (for-profit) service providers to enter the disability service market!

Market driven service quality is great for telecommunications, for example. Just one phone call, and you have a fresh service provider!

Moving a person with an intellectual disability/Autism can be very difficult and time consuming. A task not to be taken lightly! In practice, those with high support needs, and little or no family support, will be left in a service "not suiting their needs" - despite having choice to move, through a federally funded individual support package (ISP) under NDIS.

We call on the Productivity Commission, not to rely on “Market Driven Service Quality” for the NDIS, but to ensure all ISPs have mandatory service quality standards attached.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 20 2011
The interim decision of Fair Work Australia in May, needs the Commonwealth and all other governments to commit to fully funding their share of the outcome of the case if we are to achieve national parity.

In Victoria, there are ‘Community Service Organisations’, non-government service providers, and government, Department of Human Services, direct care services for people with an intellectual or multiple disability living in supported accommodation group homes, or similar.

It has been traditional for many years that CSO workers are paid less than the DHS workers doing almost identical work. “Why is this so?”

We suggest this has occurred, not because of an initially strong union for DHS workers, but because they became strong as a direct result of captive market DHS management with government money to keep their staff content, whilst short funding the CSOs.

Fair Work Australia should ensure all direct care staff in supported accommodation group homes, government and non-government, are paid equally.

LISA Inc has no reservations in respect to direct care staff being well paid and well trained. The reservation being, that of work valve expectation being set, monitored and maintained to ensure the residents of these group homes receive real quality of life care in their home - not minder care in a staff workplace.

Work value expectations fail to occur in government direct care services, as traditional public service culture seriously limits the ability of management to man-manage direct care staff lore to ensure services are with the direction, intention and spirit of recognised care policies, standards and values.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 15 2011
The Department of Human Service, Victoria is integrating the quality standards and accreditation processes operating across disability services to reflect, empowerment - rights promoted and upheld, access and engagement - a right to access transparent, equitable and integrated services, a right to well-being and safety and a right to choice and decision making.

Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA) has developed a draft standards guide to be used by standards bodies when undertaking audits.

Click here to see draft standards guide.

LISA Inc questions the effect of this on group homes, and similar, where the DHS is the direct service provider.

At present, the residents of these homes have no residential tenancy rights, no individualised funding and few rights in the home for which they pay rent. Many of these homes are mainly staff work places, where residents and their families are looked on as intruders.

If the residents of DHS group homes had residential tenancy rights and individualised funding, they could replace DHS service with a CSO service, and define the service contract. And, if a CSO was not to their contract standard, the contract could be moved to another CSO.

Unlike the NDIS (Productivity Commission) proposal of market driven service quality, where residents must take themselves and their funding package to another service if they are not satisfied, this way the service providers come to them.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 07 2011
Government departments, but not their ministers, can be scrutinised by the State Ombudsman.

If a government department wants a matter not to be subjected to scrutiny by the Ombudsman, they can get their Minister to approve or sign-off on the matter - and they are fire-proof.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 07 2011
Community Visitors, under the Disability Act 2006, within the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA), visit government and non-government group homes throughout Victoria. Yet, their specific reports on group homes are not available to the residents and their families from the OPA, not even under “Freedom of Information (FOI)”.

As the OPA is not subject to FOI! So here we have a pseudo government department, the OPA, responsible for monitoring the care of vulnerable people, and they are not obligated to show their findings to the very residents of the house they are visiting.

As we (LISA) have said many times… The residents of group homes have few reasonable rights. In group homes where the Department of Human Services (DHS) is the direct care service provider, the residents are specifically denied residential tenancy rights by this all powerful government department, or individualised funding, so they can choose their service provider.

If the residents of DHS group homes had residential tenancy rights and individualised funding, they could choose their service provider, and have an agreed quality of life service contract, where they could change contractors if not satisfied.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 07 2011
Mornington News, Victoria, June 6, 2011
By Terri Rew


A Mornington Peninsula carer’s group wants to stop unscrupulous landlords preying on people with intellectual disabilities.

Community Lifestyle Accommo¬dation is appealing for donations of land or money to build accommodation for adults with disabilities.

CLA chairman Paul Lyons said housing was desperately needed for carers and families who were missing out on support and services.

Dedicated carers with varying skills, knowledge and expertise in CLA say they are committed to tackling the critical lack of suitable accommodation, combined with the changing needs of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

The not-for-profit, CLA, wants individuals, businesses, private organisations and government organisations to donate land and cash for a new building on the peninsula.

In a two-part submission in response to the February 2011 Disability Care and Support Productivity Commission's draft report, CLA said many people with intellectual disabilities were living in poverty in boarding houses where they were vulnerable to exploitation by landlords and abuse by other residents.

The CLA submission stated: "They have no one to monitor their medications or medical appointments and are surrounded by co-residents - typically people with serious mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse.

CLA is concerned for elderly carers with adult children suffering with physical or intellectual disabilities … If the parent is incapacitated in any way and can no longer care for their child, the concern is many are vulnerable to financial, physical and sexual abuse and do not have the skills to manage abusive situations. In fact, it is highly likely that they would not recognise the dangers or realise what is happening is indeed, abuse.

“This is an extremely urgent issue to address”, said CLA secretary, Marie Hell, who is a carer of her adult son.

Mr Lyons and board member Jenny Hopmans told The News they were concerned at the lack of support for carers as well as inadequate aid for people with disabilities aged over 18.

Many caring families were missing out on support and services that were desperately needed for them to enjoy “a simple life, as others do in our community”.

According to the Productivity Commission’s draft report "the disability support system is inequitable, under-funded, fragmented, inefficient and gives people with disabilities little choice” ;

Mr Lyons said CLA believed people with an intellectual or physical disabilities deserve entitlements, not charity hand-outs.

The CLA agreed with the commission’s recommendations that the Australian, state and territory governments form a task force to implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the reporting structure to the Council of Australian Governments and Heads of Treasury meetings.

"People have to act now. There are ageing parents caring for their intellectual or physical impaired adult child with hardly any support. Who will care for their children when they are dead?" Mr Lyons asked.

He said CLA was committed to providing a flexible, individual ser¬vice model that would enable adults with an intellectual disability to live independently of their carers.

Anyone wanting to help Community Lifestyle Accommodation can call Marie Hell on 03-5983-8785, or visit:
www.communitylifestyleaccommodation.org.au
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 03 2011
27 May 2011.

Mr John Walsh
Disability Care & Support Productivity Commission
GPO Box 1428 CANBERRA CITY 2601

Dear Mr Walsh,

“Disability Care and Support” In your draft report, Vol 1, Page 2, Key Points, Dot 1, you define the current disability support system as “unsatisfactory”.

In the area of our primary focus, that of “Supported Accommodation Group Homes”, we add to your findings - “failure to provide consistent quality of life care and customer satisfaction”. Especially those group homes where the Department of Human Services (DHS), Victoria, is the direct service provider.

Many families who have managed to secure a group home, or similar, for their adult family member with a disability, have had to fight long and hard for the place. Having been totally burnt out and stressed out to get a place, they find the fight continues, “24/7”, for a resemblance of reasonable care and respect for both their family member and themselves.

Those still having to fight for reasonable care and respect, have little hope of departing this world in peace their adult family member will receive consistent quality of life care, are hanging their hopes and dreams on the NDIS process.

Having read some of your extensive, two volume, report, we perceive the primary focus of your defined NDIS principles, as that of “individualised funding” and ensuring the “have nots” – have services.

Whilst we are in total agreement that everyone should have services, we are concerned this could be just “more of the same”, from a different funding source. It is not right that those subsequently getting services as a result of the NDIS process, should then have to fight “24/7” for service right, level, quality and customer satisfaction, as many families have under the present state system.

We, therefore, put the following scenario to you, for consideration and comment, please:-

Many group homes, considered the person’s long term home, consist of regular houses in the community, with up to six residents with high support needs, and the necessary support staff.

Consider the direct care service provider as being the Department of Human Services, Victoria, and the six residents all have no, or no interested families or others.

On a hypothetical day, the “NDIS Process” starts….. The DHS suck their funding, say $130, 000 for each resident, out of the house. This is replaced by six individualised funding packages, provided by federal funding, after a needs assessment on each resident.

Let’s say, the funding package for each resident remains at $130, 000. This amounts to, one funding source being replaced by another, with the service remaining the same. If the service was rotten, it will remain this way!

We see the NDIS process being of little benefit in this situation – Please advise where and if you consider this will not be the case, in this situation.

Forwarded for your attention, consideration and early response please.
LISA Inc.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 03 2011
See our related story here

Concerns parents/families have with the care of their family member with a disability who is living in a group home, especially those where DHS, Victoria, is the direct care service provider.

Almost all clothes are washed almost every day! This is often not because they require washing, but because the system of care is fragmented, and has difficulty determining those clothes which the general population determines can be worn for a period before washing or dry-cleaning.

Therefore, the resident’s clothes become worn-out, and look shabby, far more quickly that those of the general population.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 20 2011
Whilst discontent with services for people with a disability and their families remains fragmented, governments need do little.

Government bureaucrats say, “You all need to be on the same page to get our attention. We see the majority saying little or nothing, so we see them as content. We see just the fragmented few with concerns - So we must be doing fine!”
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 18 2011
Manage or Supervise without conflict is a traditional public sector management issue avoidance tool, allowing managers and/or 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 care policies, standards, values, guidelines and community expectations.

Manage and Supervise without conflict philosophy allows the managers and/or supervisors of government direct care services in Victoria, 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.
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, May 08 2011
Government Direct Care Services are Fire Proof
Mother blocked by VCAT (Victoria)

The best place for family members with a disability, is to living with their family.

Despite advances in medical science, parents do not live forever, or are able to provide care for ever.

At some point, parents have to make that dreadful decision of relinquishing care of their vulnerable family member to “paid strangers” - as Michael Kendrick says.

Having reluctantly made the decision, caring parents naturally look for every avenue to monitor their family member’s quality of life.

In most supported accommodation group homes, these are a number of avenues which can assist parents to ascertain the level and quality of care being provided behind those closed doors. Unfortunately, many are not made available to parents for bureaucratic and so called privacy reasons. Progress notes are the most obvious avenue, if you can get access to these.

As these were blocked from this mother by the government direct service provider, she took the matter to the “Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)”, where she was, again, blocked from access to her family member’s “Progress Notes” on the grounds she would use them to scrutinise the government’s service provision.
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:42 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 04 2011
"INDEPENDENT MONITORING OF SERVICE LEVEL & QUALITY"

Information on the audit of DHS supported accommodation group homes (Disability) by one of the contractors listed below.[/b]

Disability service providers (DHS) are required to be certified as compliant by 31 December 2012.

The Independent Monitoring process, which verifies if a disability service provider meets the relevant performance measures in respect of the Standards for Disability Services in Victoria, involves two stages. It started, 25 October 2010, and is due for completion 31 December 2011.

Stage one: Consisted of a review of policy and procedure, and did not involve the visiting of group homes.

Stage two: The monitoring process is due to occur in June/July 2011, and will involve visiting a group of homes selected as a representative sample.

As the sampling exercise has not yet been undertaken by the auditor it is not possible to advise you whether 25 Peugeot Pursuit, Mill Park will be one of the group homes audited.

Contractors:
  • BSI Group (Australia & New Zealand) Pty Ltd
  • Global-Mark Pty Ltd
  • Health and Disability Auditing Australia Pty Ltd
  • International Standards Certifications Pty Ltd
  • NCS International Pty Limited
  • SAI Global Certification Services Pty Ltd
Certification audit against the Quality Standards for Disability Services in Victoria as per JAS ANZ Procedure 34.

LISA Inc  suggests that as there is no formal indication of parents/families being consulted, parents/families with a family member living in a DHS group home should ascertain which of the above contractors has be allocated to accredit the group home in which their family member is living.

If not provided with this information on making a request of the Regional Director, make an FOI request to: Manager, FOI Department, Department of Human Services, 50 Lonsdale Street, MELBOURNE 3000.

Having ascertained your contractor, any concerns you may have about the care of your family member can be presented to the contractor.
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 28 2011
With almost all the present supported accommodation services in Victoria under the despotic control of the DHS, through its DSR - services are a charity hand-out, with consumers having no entitlement or right to a service. Service provider management and staff do not, therefore, consider they have any need to provided customer service and satisfaction.

DHS, Disability Accommodation Services, argue every which-way with consumers who dare to question their service level and quality. Complainants frequently lose more than what they have lost as a result of that which they were complaining about!

“How will the NDIS change this in favour of the consumer?” Apart from removing the DHS from direct service provision, this is a million dollar question!

Taking the bottom-line scenario in a DHS group home of six residents with high support needs, little meaningful communications and no effective family or friends. DHS central funding will be replaced with individualised NDIS Federal funding to continue to support the residents in the same house, with the same management and the same staff.

If the management and staff did not see the residents having a service entitlement – customer service and satisfaction, before – “Why should they with just a change of funding source, unless the new funding source has significant service level and quality prerequisites?”
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, April 22 2011
The Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Disability Accommodation Services, Victoria, has, from time immemorial, had major systemic problems with many of their direct care staff, in their isolated, in the community, group homes, rorting their work hours. This is generally referred to as “Ghost Shifts”!

What do ghost shifts mean to the government? Not much! The money is already allocated!

What do ghost shifts mean to the residents? Ghost shifts mean loss of potential quality of life care – PCAS/PBS. In some cases, loss of basic care.

Departmental management have been in denial of the rorting of work hours for years! They have, however, finally been shamed into taking some action.

In late 2009, this government department started trialling electronic staff attendance recording machines. Yet in 2011, they are not in use! This is mainly as a result of the staff union opposing their overall introduction on many grounds. Whilst the staff have rights, the residents have none or few!
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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