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Disability support workers in crisis

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A key sector is facing a major worker crisis with one in three people saying they want to leave in the next year.

The disability support sector is facing a major crisis, with close to one-third of workers saying they want to be in a different job in the next 12 months.

Of the 2500 employees involved in a union survey, many of those that were unsatisfied blamed negative workplace culture, and nearly one quarter said they wanted to leave for more pay.

Representatives are concerned the conditions will exacerbate already “extreme workforce shortages”.

Last week the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS reported a shortfall of 83,000 full time workers in the sector.

“You can’t have an ‘efficient’ National Disability Insurance Scheme if a third of the workforce leaves due to poor conditions, because there won’t be a system left at all,” Australian Services Union assistant national secretary Emeline Gaske said.

Covid has also weighed heavy on the sector, with a fifth of workers testing positive for the virus since November last year.

The Disability Royal Commission identified a lack of PPE, access to testing and staff shortages as issues facing those with a disability throughout the recent Omicron surge.

Last month, The Age reported three disability support workers had been given permission to work while infectious with COVID-19 by Victoria’s Department of Health due to “extreme staff shortages”.

“Throughout the pandemic people with disability and the workers who support them have been abandoned by the Morrison Government,” Health Services Union national secretary Lloyd Williams said.

Union representatives pointed to the federal government’s “neglect” of the sector and called for urgent meetings with workers and advocates to address conditions and worker retention.

“The abandonment of the disability sector by the Federal Government during the Covid crisis is diabolical,” United Workers Union Director Demi Pnevmatikos added.

“Disability Support Workers face poor working conditions including, low pay and lack of job security.

“This diminishes quality and the disability sector becomes a stop in one’s working life rather than the destination. This is not good enough.”



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