The bottom 10% of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) providers are allegedly paying their disability support workers less than the minimum hourly rate in 2020/21, according to Deloitte Access Economics (Deloitte).
The watchdog's annual survey, undertaken early this year for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), found that the 10th percentile of nearly 1,100 NDIS providers that responded to the survey paid an average base rate of only $26.23 an hour for disability support workers in 2020/21, compared to the $28.41 minimum rate for those workers at that time.
NDIS Minister Bill Shorten, who vowed to stop fraud in the scheme, said it was “unacceptable” for NDIS providers to underpay workers under the relevant award.
“I take very seriously the undervalue [sic] and mistreatment of the NDIS workforce. We cannot ensure participants are getting the right care if we do not attract the right workforce – and to do that, there needs to be attractive pay,” Shorten said, as reported by Brisbane Times.
Australian Services Union secretary Angus McFarland said he believes recent figures showed only “half of the story.”
“These are providers self-reporting, which indicates there could be many more,” McFarland said, as reported by Brisbane Times. “We need urgent action to address the wage theft issue in the disability sector so we can attract the workers required for the scheme to be a success.”
However, Laurie Leigh, head of provider body National Disability Services (NDS), said they are unaware of the widespread underpayment in the disability sector, noting that the $26.23 was average and “may not account for other factors that are included in an individual's pay.”