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.