13th February 2017
This letter was originally published in the Ballarat Courier, the Ararat Advertiser and the Stawell Times-News on 10 February 2017.
Last year, my office received a phone call from David*. He was concerned about the welfare of his son Richard, who has a disability and was using a respite service.
With our intervention, David was able to get answers about Richard’s care. The respite service admitted that their standards of service had dropped. They made changes that included reviewing support plans for all their clients and providing additional training for all their staff. David’s complaint to us was resolved and he felt confident in making further bookings at the respite service.
David’s story isn’t unique. Every year, my office receives over 1000 enquiries and complaints from people who have concerns about Victorian disability services.
Complaints might be about service quality, as David’s complaint was. Complaints can also often be about a lack of communication. A recent complaint we had from Lara was about the high staff turnover at her sister Page’s service provider which made it difficult for her to communicate with the right people.
As Victoria transitions into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), we’ll begin to see more people becoming eligible for disability funding. In the Central Highlands, 4,500 people are expected to transition into the NDIS. Significant growth of the Victorian disability sector is predicted, with more service providers and nearly 18,000 more jobs for support workers across the whole state.
In this new environment, I encourage all individuals living with disability, their families, friends and support workers, to be aware of their right to Speak Up to my office if they are unhappy or concerned about the Victorian disability service they receive. We can also take complaints about NDIS-funded services.
Our service is independent, confidential and free – people can have confidence in speaking to us about what is troubling them. Last year, 87 per cent of the complaints we received were resolved in full or in part, as judged by the person who made the original complaint.
As the biggest social reform since Medicare, the NDIS can bring positive change for people with disability. My office is here to help when people want to make a complaint.
Laurie Harkin AM
Disability Services Commissioner
*Names in this story have been changed to protect privacy.
For more information on making a complaint about Victorian disability services, contact Disability Services Commissioner on 1800 677 342 or www.odsc.vic.gov.au.