Rally against privatisation of disability services

Issue 

Hundreds of disability workers rallied in Melbourne on December 14 against attempts to privatise the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Victoria.

Members of the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) protested outside Premier Daniel Andrews' office against his plan to contract out publicly-funded disability services.

The Victorian government has asked not-for-profit and private providers for expressions of interest in providing NDIS services.

HACSU said this is in breach of an election promise by Labor to Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) workers that they would not contract out DHHS disability services.

The union said the plan will result in thousands of disability roles being lost or given to lower quality and lower capacity services and will create job and wage insecurity.

The union said: “We are at a critical stage in the history of disability services, with the Community Service Organisations providers raising concerns about the capacity of the sector to take over government run services and concerns about the inadequacy of the 'unit price'.

“With such a fundamental change to the way people receive funding, it is imperative to ensure the move to the NDIS is done correctly. HACSU is concerned that in the current context it won't be.

“We need to send a really clear message to the Andrews Government that HACSU does not support this decision and will not stand by quietly while government services are privatised.

“We hold the view that responsibility for the provision of disability services to some of Victoria's most vulnerable people lies with the government.”

The demands of the protest were:
* Reverse the contracting out decision
* Guarantee job security and wages and conditions of DHHS staff
* Minimise impacts and disruption on staff and clients from any changes resulting from transition to the NDIS
* Ensure ongoing quality service provision through better quality service safeguards and training for staff.

The campaign has an online petition.

Photos: Sue Bolton.

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