An urgent overhaul of poorly paid and casual disability support work is needed to ensure the viability of the NDIS and protect participants from substandard care.

An Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work report, Going backwards: How NDIS workforce arrangements are undermining decent work and gender equality, has warned of deteriorating conditions for workers on the scheme which is becoming increasingly reliant on digital platforms, third-party intermediaries and independent contractors, risking its long-term survival.

The report is calling for comprehensive reforms to protect NDIS workers, 40 per cent who are casuals. Bolstering NDIS working standards would also make the scheme work more effectively for participants and taxpayers through reduced wastage and increased accountability.

Key reforms include:

  • Mandatory requirements within NDIS pricing arrangements to lift minimum pay for all NDIS-funded disability support workers under the Social and Community Services Award
  • Establishing a national mandatory worker registration and accreditation scheme for disability support workers
  • Requiring all NDIS providers to be registered, with registration requirements proportionate to the risks of service provision
  • Ensuring all NDIS support workers have access to adequate supervision and support, secure work and employment entitlements, and to collective representation and bargaining
  • Establishing portable leave and training for disability support workers
  • Reviewing funding and pricing so workers can collectively bargain for over-award wages.

“Ensuring decent jobs within the NDIS is not just about economic sustainability, it’s about achieving societal equity and fulfilling the promises of quality employment and support made a decade ago,” policy director, Dr Fiona Macdonald said.