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    NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into ADHC

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    The inquiry found that despite improvements by ADHC in some key areas, services funded and provided by ADHC have a number of serious shortcomings. Some key findings in the report are:

  • The ageing, disability and home care service system is overly bureaucratic, not user friendly and many clients, families and carers are unable to adequately access services
  • Disability services are under-funded
  • Many people who need support are unable to access the system ("unmet need") due to a lack of available services
  • ADHC does not provide a client-centred service system and family members and unpaid carers of clients are often unsupported by the current system
  • There is a potential conflict of interests from ADHC's dual role as both the funder and regulator of services
  • Inadequate monitoring of and response to breaches of the NSW Disability Service Standards and the Disability Services Act
  • Too many clients continue to live in large residential centres Inadequate planning when clients are being moved
  • Inadequate culturally appropriate services for people with a disability from non-English speaking backgrounds
  • Clients often experience long delays in receiving aids and equipment
  • There are delays in home modification and maintenance services due to a lack of occupational therapists who have a backlog of assessments
  • Most residential care workers perform outstanding work under difficult circumstances but a minority are abusive and neglectful
  • Concern at high staff turnover and inadequate training in some areas
  • Infrequent data collection makes it difficult for ADHC to plan properly across the system
  • This information will not be news to those who have worked in the service for any length of time. Many shortcomings are apparent, the system is remote and bureaucratic in nature and many union members report feeling unappreciated and unsupported by the employer.

    This parliamentary inquiry has brought to light many of ADHC's shortcomings. Public exposure of these shortcomings is important in this new era of political accountability and open access to information. Identifying problems is a first step towards rectifying them. In this case it is the very system itself that is the problem.

    In order to address the problems identified by the inquiry some key recommendations by the committee include:

  • Increase funding of Stronger Together II to at least $2.5 billion
  • Implement a person-centred approach to service delivery
  • Reduce bureaucracy and red tape
  • Improve staff training and review pay and working conditions in order to develop a strategy to retain staff
  • Move residents out of large institutions into community housing
  • Establish an independent organisation to monitor quality of services, compliance with Disability Standards and the Act and handle complaints
  • ADHC to provide a greater number of accommodation options to service users
  • Interest free loans to be provided to service users and people with disabilities for aids
  • The Disability Service Standards to include a new standard that requires culturally appropriate services
  • It is sometimes remarked that, "Good people make bad systems work", but what if that notion is wrongly framed? Perhaps it would be more relevant to point out that if the system is bad it shouldn't be made to work but instead replaced with a system that is just, decent and fair.

    No one should have to labour under a bad system when it is shown to have a negative impact on key stakeholders: staff, clients and their families. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say that it is bad people that make bad systems work.

    Check the following for more detail:

    report summary (18 pages).

    Links to the full report (300 pages), submissions, answers to questions on notice, hearings and transcripts and other documents.

    Summary of report for high functioning clients (45 pages).

    The NSW Ombudsman Annual Report 2009-2010. pp.62-69 discusses issues arising from the 355 complaints about disability services in 2009/2010.

    Newspaper article about a report by the Ombudsman detailing failures in conducting background checks.

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