COVID-19 has highlighted the insecurity of the disability workforce. Since March, many members have been stood down without pay or required to take annual leave and cannot access JobSeeker. Unions lobbied hard to have the criteria expanded to include a lower 30% revenue loss for charities and not-for-profits, enabling many disability services to qualify. But this win was short-lived for many services when the federal government changed the classification of NDIS payments so they had to be counted in overall revenue.
The latest NDIS Price Guide came into effect on 1 July. Unlike last year, when the guide saw increased funding for several categories (which better reflected actual services costs), this year’s guide has reduced funding by 5% to 9% for most categories. This is extremely disappointing. Following the Royal Commission into abuse in the disability sector, plus positive steps made through the Disability MEA and disability registration programs, it seemed the sector was improving its capacity to provide high-quality services and to attract and retain a skilled, qualified workforce. Instead, employment in the sector is becoming more insecure, with attempts to de-skill and devalue this dedicated workforce, who are responsible for the education and wellbeing of the community’s most vulnerable.