NDIA workers across the country are sharing their reports around the unreasonable workloads within the agency and how it has impacted their ability to work well.

Below are some of the real stories that NDIA workers have shared.

If the issues touched on below cause you any distress, there is support available. The CPSU has some useful resources here, or you can contact the Member Service Centre on 1300 137 636.

You can tell us your story via the form below.

“I am feeling stressed”

I am feeling stressed. I feel I am letting my participants down by not being able to approve plans and AT timely. I work as a planner for the complex team and the participants have very high support needs. It worries me and I actually feel guilty that I cannot provide the service they deserve. The agency is definitely moving away from participant focused.

“Four supervisors in 6 months”

I've taken 3 months off due to work, stress related. I used my own personal leave. When I wanted more leave it was denied. My stress is more related to being a new employee and not receiving appropriate training and support. I have had four supervisors in 6 months.

“I feel like I'm letting down my participants”

I'm constantly stressed, tired, unable to put work out of my mind after work hours, constantly have a huge backlog of work hanging over my head and feel like I'm letting down my participants.

I have a psychosocial disability which has become increasingly unstable. I am depressed, anxious ... I cry often as a result of work pressures and at times I'm generally not coping. At our start of week meetings I often rate myself as 2/5 (1 being lowest) and my manager has not bothered to provide any level of pastoral care to the team who are similarly stressed.

I'm not sure I want to stay at the agency any more.

“This is not sustainable”

My APS 5 workload (which was already at a full level) has more than doubled in the past 6 months. It is impossible to complete this workload in my normal full time hours.

Against advice from my team leader and Director I am working in my own time (unrecorded) on the weekends. We have been told not to do this as it 'masks' the problem, but it is personally the best thing I can do for my mental health, as otherwise the pressure is too stressful. This is not sustainable.

So far, the CPSU has:

  1. Fought for your right to collective workload reviews, and won.
  2. Escalated your concerns to the WHS regulator.
  3. Raised a dispute under clause 10.1 of the Enterprise Agreement with the agency for not providing staff with a safe workplace.

If you are not yet a member, join your union today

“I do hit my targets but in order to do so, I have made myself really unwell”

The KPI's are just too high. I do hit my targets but in order to do so, I have made myself really unwell. All the psychology/management material states no one can work at their maximum capacity for long periods of time without having physical damage to their health and wellbeing and I am a prime example of why ... I have had to take so much time off work just to cope and with the addition of covid/home schooling, I am really falling apart.

This has been going on for years and nothing happens to change the constant level of unfair pressure inflicted on all staff members. It seems to me that the more dedicated the staff, the more affected they are by this constant pressure because those that don't care about the participants cut corners creating more work in the long run. Management need to be realistic in their expectations so the participants are able to access quality plans on time and staff are not burned out/constantly replaced.

“I sometimes feel overwhelmed and try to hold back tears”

I have recently increased my work pace in order to get through the assigned work. I have found myself in a frantic state. I am rushing with everything that I do, typing furiously, switching from window to window while waiting for CRM to load to cut down wait times, rushing to go to the bathroom, rushing to get a coffee. This is exhausting and I find myself swearing at my tablet, banging pens and my mouse. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and try to hold back tears ...

I am being forced to skip quality processes that we have been told to carry out and ignore adjusting information in the preplanning which is drawn for data that the NDIA uses to tell us we are not being as thorough as they want. There is whole lot of messaging such as checking consent and plan sharing every contact that we need to carry out and have less time to do it in, meaning that planning conversations are rushed ...

I feel like I am letting the participants down because of my backlog of plan approvals and not being able to give them the plan that they need rather than just the same plan again. I am rushing conversations to keep them to the recommended time, not letting people have their say and reinforcing their feelings of marginalisation and that government does not listen to people with disabilities.

I now have difficulty disengaging from work at the end of the day and I am affecting my family which makes me feel like I have to deny what is happening to me to shield them from my distress.

“My symptoms include states of panic as I approached mountains of work that were unachievable”

Unreasonable workload allocations and expectations have resulted in deterioration of my mental health. For the first time in decades of working in the mental health and disability sector I have taken 4.5 weeks stress leave in the past 2 months. I have never done this before. My mental health symptoms include states of panic as I approached mountains of work that were unachievable. Feelings of dread about switching on my Surface Pro, racing heart beat and heart palpitations while completing workloads, feeling out of control, not able to successfully prioritise work, loss of sense of self esteem about being a competent employee, disturbed sleep, frustration about the lack of collaboration from leadership team to look after their staff - their greatest asset.

Huge chasm between staff on the ground and leadership team around reasonable workload, quality outcomes and participant satisfaction. Leadership Team think the best strategy is to keep flogging their staff harder to produce more work.

“This is a lose/lose situation for staff and participants, no one is benefiting”

In order to even get close to the workload expectations, I now have to compromise my commitment to quality planning by cutting corners and ignoring non-critical errors ... There is a direct conflict between the expectation to meet the KPIs and also apply the proper legislative processes ...

We are dedicated to our participants, which is precisely why we don't want to rush our conversations, or our planning decisions. This is a lose/lose situation for staff and participants, no one is benefiting. It is a failure of senior leadership that we are in this situation, and it needs to stop being treated as if it is a failure of frontline staff. NDIA staff are dedicated to their participants and dedicated to producing quality outcomes, something that we are currently unable to achieve. It is a desperate situation for people that have spent years in this industry and ultimately the workforce will be poorer for it, as dedicated and knowledgeable staff have no choice but to leave, or risk their mental health ...

It is a very sad indictment on what should have been a groundbreaking and inclusive government agency.

Share your story ...

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The CPSU will not share any personal identifying information with the NDIA, answers are solely for having your say and adding to the story around unreasonable workloads. Answers may be used as examples in upcoming CPSU meetings with your senior management and on our CPSU NDIA members page with personal information and identifying details redacted.