Dear families and friends of people living in DHHS residential services,
Thank you for signing the petition to stop the privatisation of public disability services. HACSU believe that quality service provision relies on a quality workforce, and thus are campaigning to save public disability services. We would like to ask you to further show your support for the campaign by joining our rally on,
Thursday April 14th at 11am at Parliament Gardens, Melbourne.
See a map here
Further to this rally, The Union would like to host a meeting for family and friends of people living in public sector disability accommodation, on the privatisation of these services. This meeting will seek to provide a forum in which family members can share concerns and ask questions.
We are aware that the DHHS has not been able to provide adequate information for families. Whilst the Union does not necessarily have all the answers, we will be able to provide information and understanding where the department has not. HACSU is in discussion with the State Government regarding disability policies and we have experienced major reform previously.
We have not yet determined a time and date for this meeting as we would like to get a better understand of what suits you.
If you would be interested in attending this meeting, please reply to this email with
- your contact details,
- what time of day most suits you, (day time or evening)
You can also contact HACSU on 1300 651 931
If you use facebook, please click here
, to visit a page for DHHS families to discuss the privatisation.
To find out more about the campaign and what HACSU have been doing, please read below
The Victorian Government have now made it clear, their primary goal is to cut costs within the context of the NDIS implementation, which they argue is necessary due to the financial implementation framework (and the so-called â€œefficient pricing regimeâ€?) being imposed by the federal Turnbull Government.
The first major decision the Victorian government has made - to contract out DHHS disability services - is very simply a cost cutting decision. Astonishingly, the decision has been made without any idea of how the decision would be implemented or the impacts on the quality of care of people with a disability and the carers who support them.
Many parents and guardians have pointed out the hypocrisy of the Andrews Government talking about the importance of service choices when they are trying to get rid of the one of the key choices, the ability of families to access public disability services through DHHS. Families and guardians have also talked about their fears for the continuity of care of their loved ones when they will be forced into the non-government sector.
There has also been a huge concern about the loss of experienced and skilled support workers from DHHS who will be forced out of the sector as they face losses in wages and conditions of up to 30%, or at best pay freeze for up to a decade.
HACSU disability support staff have been running a strong campaign against the contracting out decision and supporting a quality NDIS.
We would like to talk to family members and friends about our meetings with government and provide up-to-date information about both the NDIS rollout and the proposed DHHS contracting out process. We believe there is a real opportunity to influence outcomes.
We are extremely concerned the Federal Government, via the National Disability Insurance Agency, has still not released its long-promised â€œNDIS Quality and Safeguarding Frameworkâ€?, which means the NDIS is being rolled out in a high-risk environment.
The Victorian Government has created great uncertainty with its contracting out process, which they say will commence at the end of 2016.
The Victorian Government has still not developed any â€œorganisational readinessâ€? criteria to test whether non-government services have capacity to take on DHHS services, and there is also no:
- workforce quality and retention of skilled and experienced staff,
- requirement for services to have appropriate systems and processes in place such as governance oversight / employee training / quality assurance / IT capacity / or appropriately costed and priced services,
- guarantee service providers can provide services to people with complex needs,
- overall time frame for the contracting out process.
We all know that carers, whether they are in the non-government or DHHS sectors try very hard to provide the best service they can. But the non-government sector has been chronically under-funded for decades.
We believe some non-government services will apply to take on DHHS services, trying to build their business and claiming they have the systems ready. But we all know once they get these services, to be sustainable, they will be forced to cut services and staff under the NDIS pricing system.
This is a very concerning scenario for the future of disability services provision in Victoria.
HACSU support workers are doing all we can lobby the government at the highest levels. But we need your help.
We encourage you to take up our invitation to come to the meeting and or rally so that we can share information and join together to make sure we get the best NDIS that we can here in Victoria.
HACSU State Secretary
Government v Non-Government Disability Services in Victoria
by Health and Community Services Union (HACSU).
Responses by: Lifestyle in Supported Accommodation (LISA) Inc.
- Choice: Removing DHHS will remove the choice for residents to stay with their current service provider.
Their current service provider (DHHS) cannot provide care and support services which are consistently, often even vaguely within their very extensive and very comprehensive care policies, standards and values, as they have a public service, captive market, culture with no real need for consumers (people with disabilities and their stakeholders). Therefore, with little potential to achieve NDIS support service criteria of, “Choice & Control, Entitlement and Individualisation, The DHHS could never provide “choice and control”, as they have the choice and control over their consumers! Consumers are always wrong : The DHHS is always right. The DHHS despotic DSR controls all placements in Victoria. No one can relocate without DSR approval – almost impossible to get
- Continuity of support: Removing DHHS will break the continuity of care and support for resident’s current in DHHS services.
The change to NGOs is at management level initially. It is expected most DHHS direct care staff will remain in their existing houses. Even changing staff will be little different than DHHS doing so. DHHS management cannot set, monitor and maintain direct care staff work value expectations. And, they are, effectively, unable to address staff underperformance, as staff claim bullying if expected to do anything they do not wish to do.
- DHHS has stable staffing: There is greater use of casual staff and a higher turnover of staff in the non-government sector.
Most staff are with DHHS for public service job security, as it is almost impossible to be dismissed from the public service no matter want you do, or don’t do.
- Funding: The public sector receives higher levels of funding than the private sector – the exact figures are difficult to determine, however we believe there is approximately a 15% difference.
This is because the DHHS provides NGOs with less support service funding than they provide for themselves from the government money DHHS controls
- Overall staffing skills and experience: DHHS currently employ many highly skilled and experienced staff. We risk losing a large proportion of these staff if public disability services are privatised and staff are forced onto lower wages and conditions.
Most DHHS staff get qualifications primarily to get more pay and more job security certainly not to ensure service delivery equals service intent within the department’s very extensive and very comprehensive care policies, standards and values
- Classification structures: DHHS has minimum qualifications and staff classification structures, which encourage staff to skill-up. This is not the case in all service providers.
Most DHHS staff skill-up primarily, often exclusively, to increase their pay, potential advancement and job security
- Service provision for high and complex needs: The not-for-profit and private sectors are not adequately funded to support some people with high and complex needs. There have been cases where some clients have had to return to the care of DHHS from the NGO sector, because there was not adequate funding to deal with behavioural needs.
Any NGO under funding results directly from the DHHS, as the funding body for almost all disability services in Victoria.
- Government accountability: For the Government to be directly involved in quality safeguarding they must be a service provider themselves.
It is a major conflict of interest for the DHHS to be the funding body, the regulator, the landlord and a direct service provider.
- Supervision and staffing structures: DHHS have written in to the EBA, that all houses must have a house supervisor, with the house supervisor’s qualifications matching the needs to the residents. There is an operations manager who then over see’s 5 houses. Other NGOs do have a house supervisor or team leader per house, but there is usually not as many hours in the roster per house. Some of the major service providers, in efforts to cut costs, have in the last few years, removed the one team leader per one house model, which may set a cost cutting precedent for many other service providers.
As the DHHS fund their own far in excess of NGOs, they can have a myriad of staff, and often do. They have to do this, to cover for staff who are slack because DHHS management are unable to set, monitor and maintain direct care staff work value expectations, or correct staff underperformance
o Yooralla, one of Victoria’s largest NGO service providers: has one house supervisor (service manager) per two (sometimes three) houses. Some houses have a ‘grade 5’ staff member who is supposed to be there to support certain resident needs. However the grade 5 often spends time assisting the house supervisor who is split between the two houses. There is a very high turnover of service managers, most houses will have had approximately 4 different people in this role over 2 years
o EWTF: have recently restructured their accommodation services so that one house supervisor (known as Client engagement coordinator) looks after 3 to 4 houses each. There is no grade 5 level in EWTF. This change was made in January this year.
o Villa Maria: also have one house supervisor per two houses, with no additional support. This change was made in the last six months
- DHHS do not properly manage their services, they buy their way along with buckets of public money.
- DHHS Managers and Supervisors are limited in what they can do by public service culture of limited liability and direct care staff lore.
- DHHS has defences against consumer and public scrutiny better than the green zone in Baghdad.
- Heather & Tony were Community Visitors for six years – covering and institution and 17 DHHS group homes, and saw some shocking practices.
- Heather worked in the disability field for four years as a Cert-4. Two years with DHHS and 2 years with NGOs. With DHHS, starting at the Janefield Institution and finishing at PRS, and , again saw some shocking practices. Yet with NGOs, she saw much more staff responsibility. Overall, Heather did not work for the money, but like police undercover.