TAFE & Adult Provision Disability agreement negotiations continue

The AEU has started negotiations towards a new state-wide Disability Multi-Enterprise Agreement (MEA) Victoria.

We expect meetings to take place weekly, with former Fair Work Commissioner Julius Roe assisting negotiations. Roe has a complex understanding of the NDIS and the disability sector, including the constraints that are put on providers, and he has acknowledged the need for skilled and experienced staff.

The majority of disability services signed up to the MEA have attended negotiations, including bargaining agent Jobs Australia. Currently, 27 employers have elected to be party to the agreement. The more employers who sign up, the greater our bargaining power. 

The disability MEA was first flagged in 2016, when HACSU, HSU and AEU and Jobs Australia jointly acknowledged the considerable problems with NDIS pricing. Many providers had ‘zombie’ agreements containing provisions that did not align with NDIS pricing, set to cause ongoing operational difficulties. 

We want to see high-quality services provided by qualified staff who are recruited and retained in the sector as a result of good wages and conditions.

A briefing paper was developed and put to the Victorian state government, and eventually we negotiated a multi-enterprise agreement. We did not get everything that we wanted in that first MEA. Now that it is up for renegotiation, there are still many challenges presented by NDIS pricing that need attention.

Both HACSU and the AEU are seeing evidence of market failure, with current funding arrangements leaving several disability services struggling to keep their doors open. Without greater government investment in the NDIS, our disability sector will likely fail to retain the skilled and committed workers required under the NDIS, leading to a loss of expertise, a potential reduction in quality, and the disruption of services to clients.

It is critical that we avoid widespread market failure across Victoria. We want to see high-quality services provided by qualified staff who are recruited and retained in the sector as a result of good wages and conditions. With Victoria going to the polls this November, it’s an ideal time to develop a revised briefing paper. Federal disability minister Bill Shorten has been a vocal advocate for the NDIS and the sector more broadly, giving us an unusual opportunity to work positively with both state and federal governments.

The AEU is focused on gaining better wages and conditions for our members, and maintaining and setting industry standards.

Any disability members aware that their employer is not currently signed up to the MEA should contact their employer association or representative. Urge your non-member colleagues to join the AEU at aeuvic.asn.au/join – the more members, the greater our power.

The AEU is focused on gaining better wages and conditions for our members, and maintaining and setting industry standards. Key issues currently under discussion include maintaining 15 days of personal leave, COVID vaccine mandates, and ensuring that provisions such as portable long service leave are appropriately implemented.

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