Meeting with Minister O’Rourke
On 7 May, a Together Delegation to Minister for Disability Services Hon. Coralee O’Rourke MP about the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Queensland.
Together Secretary Alex Scott provided an overview to the Minister and then we were able to speak to the Minister about what our concerns are and the issues that members have raised with the union office and with us.
Alex advised the Minister that while members are supportive of the NDIS as a policy initiative that would increase funding to the sector, members had a range of concerns. He spoke about the secrecy of decision making and ideological obsession with outsourcing that was the hallmark of the LNP government and described the information vacuum we have all experienced over the last 3 years.
Alex said he knew that the Minister would not be able to answer all of our questions today but that we are seeking greater engagement in the future, not just about the industrial issues that might arise but real engagement with us about building the best NDIS in Queensland, the role of government in the sector and the impact and experience of clients in the system.
We told the Minister how pleased we were that AS&RS services would continue to be provided by the government under the NDIS and Palani, Maureen and Cristelle were able to convey to the Minister our concerns about the ongoing lack of clarity about the future of clinical services and other services currently being delivered by the Department. We spoke about the high quality of care that we provide as clinicians and the expertise within the Department working with clients with high and complex needs. We discussed with the Minister our view that the Department can continue to provide can provide these clinical services competitively within the NDIS or to clients who may not be catered for adequately in the non-government sector.
Bob and Phil spoke about some of the outstanding questions in relation to AS&RS services such as what sort of service would be provided and when new clients would be recruited into houses to meet client demand and so they could be run more efficiently. We raised concerns about the maintenance of the high levels of regulatory compliance in public sector service delivery for example in terms of quality of service delivery, workplace health and safety and conditions of employment and how these would be maintained in a competitive market.
We all spoke about the anxiety of our clients and their families about the future of the services they currently receive from the government.
Minister O’Rourke listened very attentively to our concerns and acknowledged what a huge body of work remained to be done in relation to the NDIS transition and getting the best possible implementation in Queensland. She agreed that for this to occur she and the Department needed to be talking to and listening to as many people as possible about the way forward. She also confirmed that the government’s commitment to retain AS&RS services included a commitment to maintaining conditions of employment for staff.
The government and the department will be considering the models for provision of services such as Clinical Services, including the possibility of provision by the department under the NDIS.
Maureen McKirdy (Together Executive, Conference and Physiotherapy Delegate)
Palani Thevar (Together Conference and Social Work Delegate)
Cristelle Mulvogue (Together Conference and Social Work Delegate)
Phil Kyson (Together Conference and RCO Delegate)
Bob Stevens (RCO Delegate)