The NSW Public Service Association (PSA) has launched a campaign against the state government's total privatisation of disability services, being imposed as part of the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in NSW.
The campaign is being supported by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, and is seeking broader community backing.
The PSA has initiated a petition that says: "The PSA is seeking your support in stopping the largest ever privatisation of a government service in NSW. The state government has decided it will completely withdraw from the delivery of disability or home care services.
"It plans to kick this off in 2015 and, if it gets its way, by 2018 it will have a full-scale privatisation of the remainder of disability services.
"This means that there will be: No state-run residences for people with disability; no support services provided by the NSW government for people who live in their own home; no respite services provided by the NSW government for carers of people with disability.
"It won't just be an ill-equipped non-government sector that will take over these vital services. VirginCare, Moran and SERCO are just a few of the for-profit corporations that could enter this service field.
"The privatisation of these services in NSW is high risk. It exposes clients and staff to a number of threats which will magnify if federal funding of the scheme falls off or does not keep pace with demand.
"The threats include: the casualisation of the workforce, loss of jobs, pay and conditions, and the introduction of many low-paid, part-time jobs with short hours of work.
"Threats to clients include: the loss of skills and experience from the sector; the inability to remain with their current provider of choice (ie, ADHC [Aging, Disabilities and Home Care]); ever-changing low-skilled and inexperienced staff to address their needs: lack of stable accommodation; domination of the industry by 'for profit' providers that will put money before service to clients; Lack of regulatory oversight for quality assurance.
"The PSA is fighting back. The PSA has started a petition demanding that the NSW government retain a role in the delivery of disability and home care services and that it avoids a workforce crisis in the sector by protecting employee conditions, pay and job conditions."
In March, the PSA held a series of meetings that condemned plans by the NSW government to privatise disability services. PSA members and delegates in the Hunter region started a call for bans on work related to the National Disability Insurance Agency, involved with implementing the disability system changes.
The issue is particularly urgent in the Newcastle and Hunter area, where the transition to NDIS is now under way.
The state-wide Departmental Committee of the PSA endorsed a resolution at a meeting on March 17 that said: "We condemn the NSW government for using the National Disability Insurance Scheme to disguise its privatisation agenda.
"The NDIS was introduced to improve choice, funding and quality of services for all people with a disability. However, there is no direct connection between the NDIS and the NSW government's ideological decision to privatise all publicly delivered disability and home care services in our state which the government is driving via the NDIS Enabling Act.
"This meeting of state-wide delegates endorses an industrial ban to be placed on the work related to the privatisation of ADHC to be implemented immediately and to run until the NSW government abandons the privatisation of disability services."
During July, a number of Defend Disability Services meetings were held across the state to discuss action to oppose the disability privatisation plan.