More than 40 of the most skilled disability and mental health support workers at Anglicare SA have been made redundant and offered lower-paid jobs for less-qualified people, in a move some staff say will put clients’ welfare at risk.
- Anglicare SA offers 43 staff new jobs through NDIS at up to $300 less pay per week
- The charity says the NDIS has not provided enough money for case management of NDIS clients
- Workers worried new staff will not be qualified to look after people with a disability
The Australian Services Union fears job cuts and the loss of skilled support workers will increase across Australia unless the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) changes its funding model.
Leonie Snyders, who had worked as an exceptional needs case worker for Anglicare SA for four years, said she received an email on Friday summoning her to a compulsory meeting on Monday morning where she was told her job had been made redundant effective immediately.
“Everyone was quite upset,” she said.
“They’re exceptional needs clients who need high care and [the people] who they’re employing at the moment aren’t qualified for our clients.
“They’re not going to get looked after properly — they’ll go off the rails if they’ve not got stability in their lives.”
The ABC understands all 43 people affected by the restructure are level-four disability and mental health support workers, many of whom work with exceptional needs clients, including at James Nash House — the SA Government’s mental health detention facility.
Anglicare SA has offered all 43 staff a similar role within the not-for-profit organisation but at a level two position — a pay cut of up to $300 per week.
The staff have until Friday to decide whether they want to accept the job.
Case worker Tania Hall, who is also studying a PhD in quality and safeguarding of disability care, said she was not going to accept a job for a less-skilled person.
“Our Prime Minister has advised that there’s going to be a royal commission into aged care and there’ll be questions about quality, yet the NDIS isn’t providing the funds to have quality service,” she said.
“People should want to upskill themselves and I believe that once the scheme is underway, there’ll be a need for skilled workers and they’ll have to employ skilled workers, not de-skilling their workforce.”
Anglicare SA staff meet with a union representative outside the organisation’s building in Adelaide. (ABC News: Claire Campbell)
Anglicare says it’s been subsidising jobs
Anglicare SA chief executive Peter Sandeman said the organisation had no choice to make the staff redundant because the NDIS did not provide enough funding for case management.
He said Anglicare SA had been asking the NDIS to review its funding policy for more than two years but said that had not happened.
“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,” he said.
“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.
Anglicare SA chief executive Peter Sandeman said the other option was to close the service. (ABC News)
“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.”
Australian Services Union senior campaigner Daniel Spencer said other disability support organisations had closed and more job losses were likely to happen unless the NDIS made changes to its funding policy.
“These workers are exceptionally qualified — they’re all very experienced mental health workers,” he said.
“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 Michelle Lensink said many service providers were “reshaping their services” under the NDIS model of fee-for-service rather than grant funding.
A spokesman for the National Disability Insurance Agency said it was “not responsible for Anglicare SA’s employee restructure”.
“This is an Anglicare SA business decision,” he said.
“The NDIA monitors the cost structures of the sector carefully and adjusts its prices annually in line with movements in wages and other costs.”