Disability workforce strategy mostly a rehash, says key stakeholder group


“Very disappointing” is the reaction to the federal government’s new disability workforce strategy from the peak body for the relevant group of service providers.

Massive workforce growth is needed to make the National Disability Insurance Scheme a success. Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher said the roll-out would require an influx of about 90,000 additional full-time staff over the next five years, as he launched the strategy and a related website.

However, much of the newly published strategy is “a rehash of old news” in the view of National Disability Services chief executive David Moody. It seems he thinks most of the document’s content was prepared back in 2015, on the basis of a suggested attribution within the 2019 copyright notice on its inside-cover page (pictured).

It’s mostly past announcements, “information that is already in the public domain” and work already underway, Moody said in a statement, noting NDS had been among those calling for just such a plan since 2013.

“Our position has been a national workforce strategy is long overdue as our organisation, which represents the majority of non-government service providers for disability services, are in need of actions that truly deliver on the promise of the NDIS,” he added.

Perhaps the Department of Social Services are just so far ahead of the game they anticipate the needs of government several years in the future.

The minister said the strategy would give providers the right information and support to make key business decisions. According to Fletcher, the Boosting the Local Care Workforce website will “showcase projected demand for disability services at the micro level” and allow the service providers to plan ahead based on “forecasts of projected demand for services and the future workforce by postcode”.

“The new website will also allow organisations to self-assess their existing systems, processes and overall readiness to become a NDIS provider or sustain or expand their service offering,” said the minister.

Moody said the document only contained “a very small number of actions that that will grow the NDIS market and workforce” but the promise of more information could only be a good thing.

“We do welcome the commitment to providing better information to enable investment in services. Better data will help service providers make decisions about investment and growth.

“Our members have been suffering from a severe lack of data for years and this is impeding their ability to invest and grow. Again, NDS has been asking for this data for years.”

He says the peak body is keen to see the upcoming results of more work around how to address “thin markets” for disability services, which is due in May.

“NDS feels that this is urgent work to stop the exiting of providers in some key markets in Australia that particularly impact on indigenous, CALD background and remote area participants.”

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