Over 5500 Department of Health and Human Services staff currently employed by the Victorian Government in the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will have their jobs transferred to federal agencies and non-government providers.
In an all-staff meeting held on Thursday, changes to the staff employment circumstances were announced, catching the representative unions unaware as they prepared for the day of Climate Action on the following Friday.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told The Courier as the NDIS is rolled out and becomes a federal responsibility and funded by the Commonwealth, those staff would be 'transitioned' from state to federal agencies, known as 'Life Without Barriers'.
The spokesperson stressed that no state government services would be cut and no redundancies would be involved.
However both Commonwealth Public Service Union and Ballarat Trades Hall representatives expressed their concerns and reservations about the move.
"These workers should be transitioning to secure jobs in our public service but they can't because the Federal government imposes a nonsensical staffing cap, which may mean we lose the skills and expertise these workers have built up over years of working for people with disability," said Beth Vincent-Pietch, Deputy Secretary of the CPSU.
"These workers deserve good jobs and people with disability deserve good services- this shows that the Federal government must get rid of the staffing cap that is starving the NDIA of the very people it needs to deliver for the community. It just doesn't make sense to cap employees in the NDIA while throwing money at private companies to hire as many people as they like on inferior conditions."
The news comes as it was revealed the National Disability Insurance Agency's spend on external contractors and consultants has grown faster than its budget for permanent staff, ballooning to $166 million last year.
The spend on permanent staff has also not kept pace with an explosion in number of participants joining the scheme, analysis has shown, according to a report in The Canberra Times by Katie Burgess.
The Courier made enquiries to the Victorian Minister for Health's office about the changes but was referred back to the department. It is unclear how many Ballarat staff will be affected.