Over 100 delegates from across the Community and Disability Sector gathered in Sydney for a packed two day conference agenda to discuss and plan how to improve our sector, with guest presentations from the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission Registrar Sam Taylor, Shadow NDIS Minister Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese and ACTU Secretary Sally McManus.
Day 1 - NDIS Delegates Conference
Delegates working under the NDIS face unique challenges as the new Code of Conduct is implemented. At our NDIS Delegates Conference, members had purposeful discussions with other members working in this sometimes isolating sector.
As the enforcer of the Code of Conduct for all organisations and workers under the NDIS, the Quality and Safeguards Commission is an important piece of the NDIS puzzle. Samantha Taylor, Registrar, fielded delegates' questions and concerns about the new Code in a Q&A discussion.
Our Keynote speaker was Shadow NDIS Minister Bill Shorten at his first speaking event since the election. As an original implementer of the NDIS under the Gillard Government, delegates were impressed with Mr Shorten's knowledge of the NDIS and empathy with their issues, and he promised to fight with us to ensure the #bestNDIS into the future.
Delegates spent the day analysing the promise of the NDIS to clients, workers and organisations, and how it has turned out so far. Needless to say gaps were apparent between expectations and reality.
But ASU members are united, and we have ideas and plans to make the NDIS better for everyone.
ASU Delegates stood side by side and passed this resolution at the close of the conference:
Day 2 - Community and Disability Delegates #UnitedForACivilSociety
On the second day Disability delegates were joined by members from across Social and Community Services. The day started with a bang with keynote speaker Anthony Albanese, Leader of the Australian Labor Party, addressing the over 100 delegates. Mr Albanese stated that he shares our values, the values of supporting the most vulnerable in our society, and would do everything he could to support us.
Despite a hostile government, ASU members can win. To illustrate this we looked back at some of the biggest campaigns and wins of ASU History.
Fran Hayes was there at the beginning of the Australian Social Welfare Union, the predecessor union of the Community and Disability Division of the ASU, and was instrumental in the campaign for the first Award. She wrote an account of the CYSS Award Case, and how a group of young women struggled against all odds to change the face of Australian law.
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus spoke about her time as the Secretary of the ASU and the incredible Equal Pay win.
An afternoon of training focused on politicians and employers. Our sector is experiencing changes and reforms that undermine our conditions, pushing us into shorter funding cycles and insecure contracts. Building alliances with our employers is key for our sector to stand together and demand better funding and conditions from Government. We all want our employers to be Civil Society Compliant by supporting union members, providing secure employment, taking a stance against bullying and unsafe work practices, and accommodating diverse needs of workers. We learnt the steps to getting politicians to speak with us about our issues, and how to lobby them and keep them to account.
Finally we reflected on our past wins and how the history of our union makes us strong. We have a long way to go, but together we can get there. ASU delegates passed this resolution:
We are ASU proud delegates from the community and disability sector.
We believe that our communities deserve better.
We commit to sharing our stories with our local members of parliament to help convince Government to better fund and support community services.
We commit to organise our workplaces to call on our employers in the community sector to stand united with us.
Together we will work to lift the standards and respect for our work and our services in our community, because only then will we truly be a Civil Society.
If you want more information about the conferences, becoming a delegate, lobbying politicians or employer compliance, get in touch with your organiser or call our Member Assistance Line on 02 9310 4000.
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