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.
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.
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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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”.
“This is an Anglicare SA business decision,”
“The NDIA monitors the cost structures of the sector carefully and adjusts its prices annually in line with movements in wages and other costs.”
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 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 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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