In June 2018, the State Liberal Government announced their proposal to privatise supported community accommodation services and group homes.
They did not consult with workers, their representatives, clients, or their families before announcing this change.
United Voice members in government disability services support some of the highest needs clients and most vulnerable people living with disabilities in South Australia.
This change would mean that continuity of support will be interrupted, and a significant reduction in highly skilled workers in a sector that is already experiencing a skills shortage.
United Voice members overwhelmingly rejected this proposal.
Instead, they began campaigning to keep Government disability services that South Australia can count on.
One member said, “This push for privatisation is being marketed as giving clients more choice.
“That’s just not the case.
“Clients have always had the choice to move to the non-government sector if that was what they wanted. But the majority have chosen to stay.
“The South Australian families of our clients have chosen to remain with us, because they are happy with the support their loved one is receiving.
“Now they’re being told they can’t. Their choices are being reduced.
“This proposed change has led to anxiety and disruption, because they don’t know if they will be able to stay where they are with the people they have grown to know and trust.
“It is critical that our clients and their families have security.
“A lot of family members of our clients are aging, and they just want to know that their loved one is going to continue to have quality support they can rely on.
“I believe that they should be given the option to stay with the services they are receiving now.”
United Voice has been approached by numerous family members of clients who will be affected by these changes, and want to support the campaign. United Voice will continue to meet with affected South Australian families.
On 4 July, members held a Day of Action where they attended Parliament House, watched Labor and Greens MPs questioning Minister Lensink about the proposal, and lobbied Members of Parliament.
As another member says, “The service to the disability sector has been within the government sector for decades.
“It’s a proven and worthwhile service, with stability and direction.
“That’s why we’re committed to this campaign to keep services in government.
“We’ve fought long and hard over a number of Enterprise Agreements to remain in the government sector, and we’ve always succeeded.
“Our current Agreement includes clauses such as no outsourcing and no forced redundancies, and we are going to enforce that.
“Our Agreement also has improved working conditions, including better annual leave and shift provisions.
“These conditions mean that our workers are more well-rested, and our workforce is more stable because workers don’t want to leave.
“This all adds up to a better experience for our residents.
“When workers are better off, clients are better off. That’s why clients and their families stay with government services.
“Members in public disability services are committed to keeping these services in government, for the benefit of workers and clients.”
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