NSW Moves on Privatising Disability Care
29 October 2013 at 11:33 am
There’s been a mixed response to the NSW Government’s introduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme enabling-Bill to privatise disability services in that state.
According to the NSW Public Service Association, the NDIS enabling-Bill will cut critical public disability support services in the state.
The Association says the O’Farrell Government has used the introduction of the state NDIS Bill as a “Trojan horse for a cut to the choice and quality of services available to support people with a disability and their families in NSW”.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill, which has been tabled in NSW Parliament, provides for the transfer of the disability services assets of the State in connection with the Federal Government’s NDIS.
It also includes detailed arrangements for the transfer of the employment and entitlements of public sector disability services employees to another public sector agency or non-government sector employer.
The Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka described the legislation as historic, paving the way for life changing reforms in the disability sector.
He said the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill considered a range of reforms for the future transition of State-run disability services to non-government organisations that specialise in disability care.
He said the Ageing, Disability and Home Care Department (ADHC) will work with people with disability and their families and carers to implement a transition model.
“In the meantime, the department is rolling out individualised funding and more places for people with disability, and helping the non-government sector grow to be able to take over service delivery,” the Minister said.
PSA Assistant Secretary Steve Turner said: “Barry O’Farrell was the first State Premier in Australia to sign the NDIS agreement. However, it now seems his real agenda was to abandon the government’s responsibility for meeting the needs of people with a disability.
“The wholesale outsourcing of disability services will not deliver better services nor choice for
people with a disability, their families and carers.
“In fact, history suggests the privatisation of public services has not offered a better service when it comes to providing complex social services.
“The changes to disability services in NSW will decrease accountability, cost more money in the long run and deliver no guarantee of matching the high level of support offered by ADHC’s professional staff.
“The O’Farrell government should withdraw this contentious Bill and aim to improve services by building on existing services, including investment in ADHC and its professional staff.”
However, disability Not for Profit, Northcott Chief Executive Officer Kerry Stubbs welcomed the move.
“Non-government services like Northcott already deliver 60 per cent of disability services in NSW and we have been helping people since 1929 so we are ready, willing and able to take on government run services,” Stubbs said.
“The NDIS (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013 fits with what the Productivity Commission recommended when it designed the NDIS because it removes government as the dominant service provider and creates a real market where disability services are competing to attract clients.
“More competition means more choice and opportunity for people with disabilities – rights Northcott has long believed every person with a disability is entitled to.
“It will also mean every service provider has to perform to the standards people with disabilities expect or the client, for the first time, will exercise their right to go elsewhere.”
Stubbs said current staff working in Ageing, Disability and Home Care run services have a strong role to play in the future of disability services in NSW.
“We value the skills and expertise of staff working in government-run services, and hope they remain in the sector.
“We welcome these landmark changes to the way services are provided because they will give people with disabilities more choice and control over how they live their lives. “
The NDIS was launched in the NSW Hunter area on July 1, 2013 and will roll out across NSW from 2016 to 2018.