Management shake-up can’t fix the NDIA while staffing cap remains

The union representing National Disability Insurance Agency workers says a new CEO will not fix the struggling agency unless the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government’s devastating staffing cap is scrapped.

Robert De Luca’s immediate resignation as NDIA chief executive was announced late yesterday, with the former banker leaving after only 20 months leading the agency.

The CPSU and advocates for people with disability have warned the Coalition’s arbitrary Average Staffing Level cap is doing serious harm to the agency and people seeking support, as confirmed by the $1.6 billion underspend revealed in last month’s Federal Budget. The Productivity Commission and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet have also recommended that the ASL cap is scrapped.

CPSU Deputy Secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said: “Our members working in NDIA are really surprised at Robert De Luca’s sudden departure, right in the middle of a federal election campaign and with the agency still failing to help so many of the people it was created to serve. But the reality is NDIA is in crisis and it will take more than a change of captain to fix the agency and prevent it from hurting participants and hurting the people working to provide support.”

“We were concerned from the start at a former BankWest managing director being put in charge of the NDIA’s day-to-day running, and believe it’s telling that Mr De Luca is departing to run Zenitas Healthcare, a profit-driven company that relies on the NDIA for a substantial part of its profits.”

“It’s critical that a more suitable candidate is found to replace Mr De Luca, and we support calls for a person with lived experience of disability who has public sector experience to be made his replacement, and innovative leadership models that would support this. A new CEO provides a much needed opportunity to shift the NDIA’s workplace culture away from corporate incentives and KPIs to a focus on providing genuine support and improving lives.”

“A new CEO providing a new direction is needed but the only way to put this agency on a sustainable footing is to scrap the Coalition’s devastating staffing cap. The cap means the NDIA is being forced to farm out critical work to the private sector, which profits by using transient labour hire workers on inferior pay and conditions. This shortage of permanent, experienced staff goes a long way to explaining why the NDIA isn’t helping thousands of people it should be.”

“It’s absolutely disgraceful that there are so many people struggling to get plans to get the support they need, often support they were receiving prior to the NDIA. Scrapping the staffing cap and taking the NDIA out of the hands of profit-driven corporations is the only way to fix this situation, as Labor and the Greens have pledged to do. We desperately need a change of direction from the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government after the upcoming election, a good government that will choose a CEO and staffing policy for the NDIA that actually serves people with disability.”

MEDIA CONTACT: SIMON FRAZER 0409 493 290

All electoral communications authorised by Nadine Flood, Community and Public Sector Union (PSU Group), Sydney