NDIS: restructure and major change



From May this year the NDIS roll-out has included Mental Health Community Support Services in the North East Melbourne area (NEMA). As a result we have been notified of restructures and major change at many of the organisations delivering mental health services – Neami, Mind, EACH, ERMHA etc. Workers at these organisations have both an expectation and right that they will be consulted on any proposed changes and be given the opportunity to provide information that may help reach a better decision. Employers should be keeping workers up to date with the changes and providing opportunities for feedback and to ask questions. ASU members can get advice about their rights and entitlements during organisation change by speaking to our contact centre, so make sure that you contact us if there are any concerns.

Senate inquiry

The ASU is playing an active and on-going role in policy development for the NDIS. On 17 May ASU members and community mental health workers Hariette Farance (Neami), Biance Villella (Neami) and Janine Saligari (Prahran Mission) acted as witnesses for the ASU’s submission to the senate inquiry on “The provision of services under the NDIS for people with psychosocial disabilities related to a mental health condition”. As members know all to well the inclusion of mental health support in the NDIS has been fraught with difficulties and it is vital that the decision makers in charge hear from workers at the coal-face about what is really going on. Harriette, Bianca and Janine, as well as other ASU members from around Australia, went to Sydney to talk to the senate inquiry about issues such as:

  • Gaps in service provision, uncertainly for clients and workers and the potential loss of collaboration between services due to the loss of federal programs such as PHaMS.
  • Concerns about how mental health fits into an NDIS that is disability focused and not designed to deal with the episodic and fluctuating nature of mental health.
  • That the price for mental health support is too low and that we are already seeing losses to employment conditions and entitlements due to this low price.

Bianca, Hariette and Janine had the following to say about the experience:

Bianca “We were strong in our messages and provided great insights and good coverage regarding the problematic nature of NDIS a for those with psychosocial disability. We were able to articulately demonstrate the negative impact NDIS is having on us as workers, our workplaces/conditions and consumers we support. I also think it is important to keep the conversation going and hold the pollies accountable to addressing the issues we raised”.

Hariette “I felt proud to be speaking with my peers about issues that are so important to us and our sector. There was a sense of solidarity in the room. Our voices strong and hopefully heard”.

Janine “It was a little daunting being the first inquiry attended but it was great to travel with like-minded, passionate and energetic delegates and workers in our field.  At the inquiry all the delegates spoke so well to their topics and their ability to answer questions on the spot was really well done too. We advocated strongly for our colleagues, professionalism and can do/ will do abilities working in a recovery model with all our  participants through to the most vulnerable and able to creatively meet their needs in accessing service.  In true SACS form we advocated for our participants as well as our workforce, it was empowering to be a part of and can only hope that we have been heard and see our recommendations eventuate”.


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