This is supplied content from Vision Australia Radio sponsor the Victorian Disability Worker Commission.
The Victorian disability sector is on a unique journey - unlike that of any other Australian state or territory. It is showing its commitment to raising sector standards and supporting a quality disability workforce.
The Victorian Disability Worker Commission is an independent regulator of the state’s disability sector. Our role is to support and protect the basic right to safety for people with disability and ensure they can live free from abuse and neglect. In doing so, we aim to protect one of Victoria’s most vulnerable communities.
Our journey began when our organisation was born in unprecedented circumstances at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, we have seen significant uncertainty and change in the disability sector, including ongoing social services regulation reforms.
There are many challenges facing a young organisation like the Commission. But at our heart, we want to support disability support workers to be the best and most competent professionals they can be.
Dan Stubbs, the Victorian Disability Worker Commissioner, lives with a disability himself. He knows how important it is for a person with disability to rely on their support worker and to build a relationship based on trust and safety.
“Disability workers play a valued role in supporting people with disability to participate and most workers deliver safe and respectful services,” Mr Stubbs said. “People with disability have a right to strong safeguards for services they rely on.”
Disability workers are passionate and proud of their work. Every day, these workers provide diverse services to people with disability that could range from high-level 24-hour personal care to ad-hoc support. Most disability workers are highly committed and provide empowering and respectful disability services.
But we know there are also concerns about care standards. We, too, have heard the stories told at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. These stories reinforce how critical it is to protect vulnerable people from harm and neglect. Workers who pose a serious risk of harm must be prevented from providing disability services.
Under the Disability Service Safeguards Act 2018 (Vic), disability workers and employers must notify the Commission if they believe that a disability worker has engaged in misconduct which puts safety at risk.
The Commission also provides an independent complaints service. We have a ‘no wrong door’ approach and can take and investigate complaints about any Victorian disability worker, no matter how they are funded. Anyone can make a complaint about a disability worker if they have a concern.
Making a complaint is a great way to improve services, as it can help disability workers make positive changes in their practice. This was the case for Chris*, who received education and counselling about the Code of Conduct after a client complaint about him attending a medical appointment during work. The complaints the Commission receives are wide-ranging and then we can act accordingly. Solutions might include helping to establish better personal boundaries, revising support plans or commencing investigations for more serious offences.
“This is about building a stronger, safer disability sector,” said Mr Stubbs. “We want to provide the strongest safeguards in Australia for disability services.”
The Commission also encourages disability support workers to become registered with us. Workers who register are giving people with disability, their families and carers confidence that they are skilled, safe and professional. They are showing they want to be part of the change that ensures the right people are working with our loved ones.
We have come a long way since our journey began. We have created safeguards to protect the community and the disability sector that have never existed in Victoria. We are proud to be at the forefront of these reforms.
You can find out more about us and our mission at vdwc.vic.gov.au. You can also subscribe to receive regular updates at vdwc.vic.gov.au/subscribe or find us on our socials at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.