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Meeting workforce challenges

Get ahead of the workforce challenges with these helpful ideas.

By Rob Woolley

Updated 15 Apr 202425 Jan 2022
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This resource is designed to summarise the resources and guidelines available to help organisations meet some of the workforce challenges present during this peak period of Omicron impact. This resource is not exhaustive and is designed as a supporting document to workforce continuity and management plans already in place.

Essential Workers Classifications


The following roles are deemed risk assessed roles and workers will require an NDIS worker screening:

  • Key personnel (e.g. a CEO or a Board Member)
  • Direct delivery of specified supports or services to a person with disability
  • Likely to require ‘more than incidental contact’ with people with disability including:

o   physically touching a person with disability

o   building a rapport as an integral and ordinary part of the performance of normal duties

o   having contact with multiple people with disability as part of the direct delivery of a specialist disability support or service, or in a specialist disability accommodation setting.

Risk assessed workers are not permitted to commence work in Queensland, Victoria or South Australia before a clearance has been issued. In other jurisdictions work can only commence upon application if certain risk management strategies and supervision is in place (refer to your state or territory worker screening unit for details). 

All workers must also undertake the mandatory NDIS Worker Orientation Module.

Workforce support

Workforce available and capacity has been identified as a significant challenge for many providers. A number of local and national options are available for providers to access surge workforce options, particularly for providers delivering Supported Independent Living (SIL) services.

  • The NDIA offers Participant Contingent Care Support services across Australia for SIL providers to continue to deliver essential services to participants in residential settings directly impact by COVID-19 This service can be access by emailing [email protected]

    The NDIA also offers the clinical first response service for SIL providers to respond to critical COVID-19 incidents. This service is available Australia-wide until 30 June 2022, and may include emergency intervention, clinical support and infection control in the case of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or outbreak in SIL settings. Service continuity is the provider’s responsibility. This service is for critical incidents, and can be arranged via the NDIA, by contacting [email protected]
  •  Some peak bodies have supported providers by offering local shared workforce registers. Providers should consult their local peak body to see if this offer is available in their local area.

PPE and products

There are a range of supports available for providers to meet existing WHS, PPE and testing obligations for workers.

  • Providers are still able to bill the NDIA directly for any PPE purchased for workers up to 31 December. Providers have until 31 January 2022 to claim reimbursement under the direct billing method.
  • The NDIA no longer allows providers to bill directly to NDIS participant’s plans, but has applied a temporary price increase to a number of support items to reflect the addition costs of supplying workers delivering these supports. Price limits for community participation supports and support with activities of daily living have increased by 0.25%, and price limits for group core supports and SIL supports have increased by 0.4%. These increases are effective 1 January 2022 and 30 June 2022, and providers may need to review Service Bookings to reflect a change in claim value.
  • From 24 January 2022, NDIS participants can NDIS participants can use their CORE funding to purchase RATs, if the test is necessary to receive reasonable and necessary supports. They can also purchase RATs for their support workers.
  • Before 31 January 2022, eligible SIL providers can claim up to $12.50 for a rapid antigen test (RAT) where a worker is required to undergo a test to deliver supports. This can only be claimed where a provider would be unable to deliver a support to a participant without the RAT, and for providers delivering SIL supports under 0115 registration group. Providers should use the bulk payment request template to bill for this.

Training

There are a range of online training options available for workers to complete some online training.

 

General resources

Each state and territory have released resources to support employers provide a safe workplace and systems of work for both their workforce and others. As the majority of resources and guidance provided is general in nature they can be used in any state or territory.

Jurisdiction: ACT Work Safe
COVID related information and resources
https://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/health-and-safety-portal/safety-topics/safety-advice/covid-19


Includes short videos for staff on infection control strategies
Working safely from home –includes risk assessment and workstation checklist templates
https://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/health-and-safety-portal/safety-topics/safety-advice/covid-19/working-safely-from-home

Jurisdiction: NSW Safe Work
COVID related information and resources
www.safework.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/COVID-19-Coronavirus
Mental health 
www.nsw.gov.au/mental-health-at-work/mental-health-at-work-resources/resource-kits/covid-19-mental-health-at-work-resource-kit
Wearing a mask – includes short video for staff
www.nsw.gov.au/mental-health-at-work/mental-health-at-work-resources/resource-kits/covid-19-mental-health-at-work-resource-kit
Working from home – includes working from home checklist template, tips on setting up workstation ergonomically etc.
www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/business/covid-safe-business/keeping-workers-safe/working-from-home

Jurisdiction: QLD WorkSafe
COVID related information and resources
www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/forms-and-resources/news-and-events/news/2020/advice-on-coronavirus-covid-19
COVID
www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/resources/campaigns/coronavirus
COVID plan template
www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/16650/whs-plan-for-covid19.pdf
Mental Health
www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/news-and-events/newsletters/esafe-newsletters/esafe-editions/esafe/april-2020/workplace-psychological-health-considerations-during-covid-19
Face Masks
www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/resources/campaigns/coronavirus/keeping-your-workplace-safe-clean-and-healthy-during-covid-19/face-masks-and-covid-19

Jurisdiction: SA SafeWork
COVID related information and resources
www.safework.sa.gov.au/workers/health-and-wellbeing/infectious-diseases/coronavirus-covid-19
Working from home – includes video for staff on setting up home workstation ergonomically www.safework.sa.gov.au/workers/health-and-wellbeing/infectious-diseases/coronavirus-covid-19/work-from-home

Jurisdiction TAS WorkSafe
COVID related information and resources
www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/topics/Health-and-Safety/safety-alerts/coronavirus
Creating a COVID Safety Plan
https://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/topics/Health-and-Safety/safety-alerts/coronavirus#COVID-19-Safety-Plans

Jurisdiction: VIC WorkSafe
COVID related information and resources
www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19
Temperature screening
www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/managing-coronavirus-covid-19-risks-temperature-screening
Mental health/Working from home
www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/managing-coronavirus-covid-19-risks-mental-health-work

Jurisdiction: WA WorkSafe
COVID related information and resources:
www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/covid-19-coronavirus
Aged and residential care
www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/aged-care-and-other-residential-care-facilities-minimising-risk-exposure-covid-19

Jurisdiction: Australia SafeWork
COVID related information and resources:
www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/safety-topic/hazards/covid-19
Signage and Posters
https://covid19.swa.gov.au/doc/signage-and-posters-covid-19
Cleaning – Residential 
https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-environmental-cleaning-and-disinfection-principles-for-health-and-residential-care-facilities

 

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) have also developed and release a new international standard - Occupational health and safety management — General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic

Authors

Rob Woolley

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