Hundreds of Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) members disrupted the Victorian State Labor Conference on November 12 to protest against plans by the Daniel Andrews government to privatise public disability services.
Delegates walked off the conference floor to meet HACSU members, people with disabilities and their friends and families at the Moonee Valley Racecourse where they heard the message loud and clear: No to the privatisation of public disability.
Inside the conference, HACSU put forward a resolution demanding the government stand by the 2014 Labor Platform and keep public disability services in public hands. This resolution was passed unanimously by the 609 conference delegates.
In other developments, the government announced they would establish a legislated accreditation and registration scheme for disability support workers. This announcement is a result of the continued lobbying from HACSU members who, over the past 12 months, have contacted and met with MPs, participated in community demonstrations and actions and provided evidence for HACSU submissions to various government inquiries.
The key benefit of a registration and accreditation scheme is that it will give a much-needed layer of quality assurance and professionalism to the disability sector. It will improve the quality and skills of workers and the safety of participants, particularly those who are highly vulnerable and unable to self-advocate, and improve perceptions of the sector by demonstrating that delivering support to people with disability requires a skilled and qualified workforce.
At the conference, the government announced that they are “committed to protecting the ongoing employment standards of public sector disability workers” and that they will “ensure that not a single one will be worse off as a result of the NDIS.”
However, none of these announcements included a commitment to keeping public disability services in public hands.