An unskilled National Disability Insurance Scheme workforce could be “devastating” for its participants, the union representing NDIS workers has warned.
About 100 workers and participants rallied at Civic Park on Tuesday, calling for improvements to the sector.
Australian Services Union secretary Natalie Lang said its campaign was pushing for the establishment of a national portable training entitlement in order to stablise and improve the workforce.
“You wouldn’t send your child to school to be taught by an unqualified teacher and you wouldn’t allow a family member to go to hospital to be cared for by an unqualified nurse,” she said.
“Why should NDIS participants expect any less from the support they receive?
“There is no minimum qualification and no investment in those qualifications.”
By 2019, the NDIS scheme will support more than 450,000 participants around Australia.
Once fully rolled out, it will support more than 21,000 participants in the Hunter New England region and will account for more than 9000 local jobs.
But there is currently no national, transferable training network. Workers are trained to varied and limited standards.
The Newcastle rally was the first of many to be held around NSW this week calling on the federal government to provide funding for a consistent training system.
Multiple disability support providers have linked with the nationwide campaign.
“Rather than having an inconsistent approach to training by different providers, the union are pushing strongly for the NDIA – the agency in charge of the NDIS – to fund a national training program that is portable for all support workers,” House With No Steps executive director support services Rob Watkins said.
“It’s increasingly difficult under the pricing regime and pricing structure struck by the NDIA [to provide training].
“What the union’s trying to do is drag other providers up to an acceptable standard of training that is portable across providers to ensure that the very best levels of care are provided to people with disabilities.”
Ms Lang added: “Employers are not funded to provide that training. NDIS participants don’t have in their package, funding to provide that training.
“Nobody is providing that training and that means we’re heading for a massive crisis as we continue down the path where we’ll probably end up with an unskilled workforce.
“And an unskilled and unregulated workforce could be devastating for NDIS participants.”