Anglicare cuts 43 skilled support workers amid NDIS struggle

Anglicare SA has announced it will let go of 43 support workers after struggling to finance the short fall between NDIS funding and the cost of skilled, professional support workers. The South Australian registered NDIS provider offers a number of support services to NDIS participants including Life Skills Development, Early Childhood  Supports, Specialised Assessment and more.

Anglicare SA told the support workers they would be made redundant earlier this week at a compulsory meeting. All 43 staff being let go are understood to be level-four disability and mental health support workers. This includes staff working with high needs individuals, such as clients at the State’s James Nash House mental health service.

High Skilled Staff Offered Lower Grade Roles, 5 Days to Decide

Reportedly, all of the 43 staff impacted by the restructure have been offered new roles. However all roles offered are demotions from level four down to level two. This equates to a loss of $300 per week to the impacted staff and a cost saving to Anglicare SA of over $50,000 per month.

The staff were given 5 days to decide if they would accept the new, lower level two positions, with decisions due Friday. Some staff have stated publicly they intend to decline.

NDIA funding model blamed

Anglicare SA has highlighted the decision to cut 43 skilled support worker positions has come as the result of insufficient funding for high needs individuals under the current NDIS model. For its part, Anglicare SA had sought to engage with the National Disability Insurance Agency and requested the Agency review its model for over two years. Anglicare SA found the NDIA was unable or unwilling to change.

While waiting for a new model, Anglicare SA has said it has subsidised the higher cost to serve higher needs clients. Anglicare SA CEO Peter Sandeman has said:

“It’s extremely regrettable, but if we didn’t make the change now we’d be losing $2.5 million a year and that’s not sustainable,”

“We’ve been subsidising these jobs for as long as possible in the hope that the NDIS would change its pricing policy, but crunch time does come.”

“I do understand the staff concern, but we’ve had to think long and hard about this and whether we simply close the service or we continue under a different model.”


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NDIA Denies Responsibility

The National Disability Insurance Agency has denied responsibility for the 43 redundancies. A spokesman for the NDIA told the ABC’s Claire Campbell that the Agency was:

“not responsible for Anglicare SA’s employee restructure”.

Adding:

“This is an Anglicare SA business decision,”

and;

“The NDIA monitors the cost structures of the sector carefully and adjusts its prices annually in line with movements in wages and other costs.”

Support Workers let go Provider points to NDIS

Union Fears Risks To Workers & Community

The Australian Services Union has highlighted that this is not the first loss of jobs or closure of services under the NDIS and expressed fears it will not be the last. ASU campaigner Daniel Spencer is quoted by MSN News as stating;

“These workers are exceptionally qualified — they’re all very experienced mental health workers…

“And they’ve been made redundant today so less-qualified workers can come in and do similar roles but be paid less.

“These are exceptional needs clients … there are risks to both workers and the community if this is done by people who aren’t qualified to do it.”

SA Government Responds

SA Human Services Minister and Liberal Party member Michelle Lensink has responded to the news by noting that as the health and social care industry adapts to the new model under NDIS, many services providers are now “reshaping their services”.

What does the future hold?

What do you think? Is it fair to put these layoffs at the feet of the NDIA? Is the current model for the NDIS unworkable for service providers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  • Peter Cipollone OAM
    11/11/2018 at 8:44 am

    It’s with a sense of alarm and frustration that I read the decision made by Anglicare to make 43 employees redundant due to inadequate funding under the NDIS. I am a Board member of the Catherine Sullivan Centre, a pre school programme for Children with Hearing Loss and we are struggling to survive under this broken service model which is failing to deliver on the fundamental principles under which the NDIS was established. We are one of only 3 organisations in NSW providing early intervention programmes for Deaf children. The NDIS was set up to provide choice, needs based client driven and secure government funding. That was the intent but it’s not happening on the ground and the Anglicare experience and that of our Organisation evidences that. Similarly, the recent funding fiasco confronting the Father Chris Rlley Charity and other negative accounts in the media of other services is evidence that there is something seriously wrong with this Scheme.
    The Governmment has poured $billions into the NDIS but I suspect that a significant amount is being swollowed up in its administration depriving front line services delivering the same level of service prior to the commencement of the NDIS. Our Organisation received significantly more funding under the previous State Givernment recurrent block funding model. It could plan its intake of children and the level of staffing needed to service them. Now an inordinate amount of time is spent on individually assisting parents complete on line based documents and attending meetings advocating for the needs of each child. It presumes parents have access to technology; have the language skills to negotiate the system; and perfect knowledge about the impact of the hearing loss and the level of services needed to meet these needs. If one gets that right then you are at the mercy of an assessment officer who may have no specific knowledge of the implications of the condition. Case in point, we had one child who was allocated $12,000 last year and $4000 this year even though service requirements were similar. Something is wrong and this is creating uncertainty. It’s an insult to suggest that “services just need to make adjustments”… we are struggling to survive and the pressure on staff and honorary board members with fiduciary responsibilities for maintaining solvency.
    Long established Organisations with decades of service delivery and expertise are beginning to crumble under this model. As they do, consumer choice will be limited. Furthermore, there is increasing pressure on organisations to ‘go cap in hand’ to the community to fundraise in order to survive. This outcome is completely at odds on what had been foreshadowed when the NDIS was launched. Its intent was noble but its execution disasterous.
    An analysis of the cost of rolling it out against the amount reaching front line providers will shame the community. If you’re old enough, the scheme parallels the TV License initiative where more was spent in its administration than the revenue it collected …so it was rightly scrapped. The NDIS has now been in place long enough and the problems significant enough to be reviewed. As stated, it’s intent is noble; it’s need obvious but it’s processes misguided.

    • Antony Daamen
      11/11/2018 at 10:55 am

      I have said from the beginning.. Government never changes anything, unless it saves money..
      Sadly NDIS is again proof of this.

    • Derek McCabe
      11/11/2018 at 11:08 am

      From what I read on other forums Peter echoes a similar line. It must be remembered that NDIS was the brain-child of the then Labor Government. The current Liberal/National Party coalition has a different ideological stance on community welfare services. I’ve heard that the bean-counters in the Government see the big numbers associated with the NDIS and will use various methods of pairing back the expenses. Ideologically they believe that community organisations should be involved in fund-raising to part offset what the Government puts in (despite the fact it is the taxpayer that funds the Government’s portion anyway). I also understand some of the States are having 2nd thoughts about the cost to them.

      The NDIS is a political football that is kicked between workers, organisations, parents and State and Federal Government. Meanwhile the person the funding is supposed to help, stands on the sidelines and watches someone else decide their fate.

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