Q&A for Araluen staff
Changes to Day Services: Araluen Rosanna
These questions were submitted by Araluen staff. The most recent questions are at the top. All feedback was collated and reviewed regularly by ELT.
1 May 2023
48. Rececently, an AEU newsletter stated: “Transitional pricing arrangements for group-based core supports have been extended until 1 July 2023; however, there will be no more group-based funding from 1 July 2024. Similarly, the Temporary Transformation Payments (TTP) will cease next July.” Does this mean the NDIA will stop funding day services next year??
No. We take this as a sentence about Temporary Transition Payment (TTP) that is simply worded in a confusing way. TTP was introduced by the NDIA in 2019-20 and designed to assist providers to transition to the NDIS. It is a charge on top of base rates that can be billed in some instances and can apply to centre-based activities. As the name implies, it was only intended to be temporary, and it is due to expire in July 2024.
Also, the NDIS have introduced new pricing arrangements that have now been adopted by Araluen.
47. Has Araluen engaged an independent consultant to advise on our situation and options, or are you planning to?
Yes – Araluen enlisted a consultant about 18 months ago, to look at our pricing and our costing model. The NDIS pricing has changed continuously since then, but the consultant has given us systems to try to manage our finances as our environment changes. Many reviews conducted across the disability sector have concluded that the DWS funding model is not financially viable as a sole source of funding for centre-based organisations like ours. We will be seeking consultation to create a corporate/administrative structure that effectively supports Araluen’s purpose.
18 April 2023
46. Is this change having any effect on other sites or services run by Araluen or the organisational structure?
At the moment, Araluen has no plans to cease operations at more day services sites, Chancez cafes or any residential services. We will revisit our financial position at the end of 2024. We are committed to looking at where we can reduce costs across our corporate and administrative areas later in the year. We will monitor our financial results this year and next year.
However, given the amount of volatility in the disability sector there are no guarantees. If Araluen is affected by a major disruption, we will need to act.
45. Araluen is a NFP organisation receiving NDIS funding to provide services. Why are we cutting frontline services instead of making savings in administration?
We are committed to reviewing our administration costs, processes and structure later in the year and making any necessary changes. In addition, we have already reduced the GM group by one, with the role of General Manager-Strategy, Growth and Innovation being made redundant in March. We are committed to making savings in this area when we have had the opportunity to understand the most effective way to do this.
However, service delivery does not happen in isolation and no NFPO can deliver on its core mission without good management and the right administrative support. There is a cost for this, and always will be. It is about getting the balance right and using all our resources efficiently.
44. Will When and how will Rosanna participants be told about the change? ?
The transition team has now been stood up and is contacting family members and carers of Rosanna participants. They will discuss with the family member/carers what their preference is regarding how each participant is given the news and what support might be required.
43. Will the Senior Manager role be budgeted in site overheads?
No. The new role (Senior Manager – Community Participation) reporting to Helen Ryan will be budgeted and charged directly across the existing day services it oversees.
42. Do you think the Disability Royal Commission will have any impacts that will make it harder for Chancez Cafes to continue?
The findings of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability are due to be published mid-year and no doubt will cause Araluen (and other providers) to rethink many aspects of how we deliver support. Regardless of what recommendations arise from the Royal Commission, the purpose of Chancez Café is to provide transitional support so that people can gain real-world experience and build skills that enable them to move into employment or formal training – Chancez should not be viewed as a permanent support option.
The purpose of Chancez Cafes aligns with the School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) model and Araluen will introduce this model for those who are eligible, as well as looking for ways to ensure Chancez provides clear pathways for other people to reach their vocational goals.
41. Why have Practice Leaders only been offered roles with new EBA conditions not being able to keep existing (Grandfathered) conditions?
Under Araluen’s EA, we grandfather conditions for permanent staff for as long as they remain in the role that they held at the time the EA was introduced only. When people change roles, conditions change accordingly.
40. Could Melbourne Polytechnic participants use the Rosanna site as a meeting hub?
The Rosanna site will be used primarily as a base for new services and not as a day service. We would like to create a professional and fit-for-purpose environment for our new services to ensure optimal chance of their success.
13 April 2023
39. Will contract staff have roles after permanent Rosanna staff are deployed to other sites?
Yes. As we have so many staff shortages across our sites, all staff on contracts have been offered, and accepted, permanent roles with Araluen.
38. What is the desired target in percentage terms, for reductions in administration/corporate overheads?
We don’t have a target yet because if we went down to the allocation in the DSW price, we simply don’t know how we would operate in areas of quality, invoicing and workforce, for example. We do believe that at our current rate (18.5% of total revenue), our expenditure is lower than what many other providers are reporting. We will know in mid 2023 how we compare with like for like providers as we will receive our first report from the Ability Roundtable.
What has been committed to in 2023 is to undertake a thorough review and restructure of the corporate side of the business to mission critical positions only.
37. In relation to known costs, what percentage of known costs has so far been reduced over the last 12 months?
Over the last 12 months, decisions made to reduce the corp/admin costs will total approx. $150K once all are in place. In addition, we will continue to carefully review corp/admin overheads this year to determine how we can increase savings in this area while ensuring that Araluen is resourced to deliver on our mission.
36. Following the closure of Rosanna, what impact, as a percentage, will it have on the financial position of Araluen in relation to its’ total losses?
The closure of Rosanna will reduce Araluen’s losses in day services by approximately 15%. The total loss for Day Services is still expected to be more than $1 million.
12 April 2023
35. When will we next commence participant intake in day services?
Participation in our day services was capped because we need to reduce the loss we incur by providing this service – taking on new people will have the opposite effect. Therefore, intake remains closed until further notice. We need time to assess what impact the changes we’re making will have on our overall viability. Accepting people into a service that is losing money and under redevelopment is not necessarily fair to new participants either.
34. How can we say this is best practice when we are denying people support?
Noone is claiming that ceasing a service is best practice – our reason for doing so is purely driven by financial necessity. By acting now to stem the flow of some of our losses, we hope we can avoid a situation that is worse for more people from arising in the future.
33. Are the conditions around redundancies clear?
Araluen entered all discussions with staff who are directly impacted by the cessation of day services at Rosanna on a confidential basis – we cannot comment on private contracts or agreements. All impacted staff were able to discuss and clarify their situation with management.
32. Have we investigated staff working across day and residential service?
Our EA allows for staff to work across different areas of the organisation and some staff are working in both day and residential services. We are aware that some changes to policy and processes are needed to make it easier for staff to do so – People & Culture are currently working on this.
31. What does the future hold for the remaining services in operation if these losses continue despite the implementation of these proposed steps?
Araluen needs to change to survive and thrive there is a lot of work to be done to make this happen. Given that there are many unknowns, it is simply too early to speculate about what the organisation will look like in the future or on specific impacts. Our residential services are currently profitable, and we are planning growth in this area. We will also introduce new services.
30. What other steps is Araluen taking to avoid more loss and closures?
We are committed to reviewing our corporate and administration costs, processes and structure later in the year and making any necessary changes when we’ve had the opportunity to understand the most effective way to do this. In addition, we have already reduced the GM group by 1, with the role of General Manager-Strategy, Growth and Innovation being made redundant in March.
We will introduce art therapy and positive behaviour support which we think are financially viable. Also, we also want to look beyond the NDIS for new service possibilities too, so our income and security are not dependent on one source of funding.
6 April 2023; 4pm
29. Why use Rosanna site as the therapy site? Could this service be operated out of rooms at existing buildings, i.e. Contract room in Orana, Hurstbridge site?
In order to ensure our future viability, we need to be proactive in introducing new services that position us well for growth. This means setting these services up for success and giving them the space they need to grow. In addition, Rosanna is close to public transport and other existing services which provides more potential for growth.
28. How does the Workforce Coordinator fall under the structure of community participation? Is this an administration role that could work under data integrity as a Grade 1 Administration Officer?
The workforce coordinator will deal with all community participation vacancies and assist with community participation rostering. The data integrity team work with participant funding – their work is not related to our workforce. Therefore, we believe the best place for this role to sit is in community participation.
27. Can we proceed without the new proposed roles (Community Participation Senior Manager and Workforce Coordinator) and see if they are actually required?
Feedback tells us that managers are spending too much time on administrative tasks and not enough time engaging with their staff and participants. This new structure will enable managers to have more time with participants and their teams as we will provide support with the administration side of things. If after some time we feel it isn’t working then we can certainly look at making further changes.
26. Was Hurstbridge site or other sites looked at for the new therapy supports?
Yes – we looked at all sites. We are ceasing day services at Rosanna because this is the service generating the biggest loss. While being able to use the Rosanna building as a base for our new services is an opportunity, doing so is an outcome of the decision to cease providing our least sustainable service.
25. What is the projected cost saving Araluen will make as a result of ceasing day services at Rosanna?
By ceasing Day Services at Rosanna we will see a significant decrease in our losses, this is a major step in returning the organisation to a profit. However, it will not completely resolve all the losses we are making. That’s why we need to investigate new funding streams and services to assist us to become financially secure.
We are also committed to streamlining our service model, and investigating where we can find savings in administration. There will be further changes to the administrative structure this year.
24. What else has been considered apart from closing services? Why not sell a property or merge with another organisation?
In our deliberations, nothing has been off the table – including property sales and mergers. A property sale would also involve the cessation of a service and we would lose the ability to use that property to build alternative funding streams. In addition, a sale would merely postpone the need to take action for a few years, and wouldn’t actually solve our problem. A merger or takeover would mean we might lose our identity, or control over what decisions are made once the merger is complete.
23. Why are some other day services growing/sustainable?
70% of similar disability organisations have told NDIA they expect to make a loss, so those able to operate Day Services either look very different to Araluen or have other parts of their organisation able to subsidise areas which are making losses. Those which can cross-subsidise loss-making services include larger health organisations or ones which may have other completely unrelated revenue streams like gambling.
6 April 2023
22. Will there be a lot of double handling with a work force coordinator?
We do not anticipate there to be double handling as a result of the introduction of the workforce co-ordinator role. Managers will no longer be required to perform workforce co ordination tasks as part of their roles, and the practice leader (who currently perform workforce co-ordination tasks) roles have been made redundant.
21. Will there be enough jobs for Rosanna staff at other sites?
Yes – It is our aim to retain as many of our Rosanna team as we can, and all impacted permanent support workers at Rosanna have been offered places at other Day Services sites.
20. Can we stage a staggered exit for participants so staff can be relocated more effectively, and staff have some certainty about their next stages?
Araluen will not dictate specific exit dates for participants or rush them out of the organisation – each participant and family will make that decision independently. We have undertaken to provide day services at Rosanna until the end of the year to give people time to find alternatives supports and we will staff accordingly to meet that commitment. We are working with each staff member who has been impacted to try to accommodate their wishes and give surety. Staff relocations will be dependent on participants.
19. If we lose the revenue of 28 participants, aren’t we increasing instead of reducing our losses?
It costs Araluen more to support people under the day support worker (DSW) model than the set NDIS price allows us to bill. So, if we reduce the number of people we support via day services, we also reduce our financial loss. This is one of several measures we need to take if we are to achieve overall financial sustainability.
18. Are our current sites being used to their full capacity?
In terms of day services no they are not, and this is a deliberate decision. Intake to day services is grandfathered to stem some of the financial losses. Taking on more participants at a loss just because we have capacity only compounds our financial problems. We need time to make changes to our structure and services in a careful and responsible way then assess the outcomes.
17. Have we thought of reintroducing transport utilising our staff?
This is not something we plan to reintroduce, as this service was running at a loss. This was transitioned to a taxi service which is now running smoothly. Activity transport will remain, as this has been working well for us.
16. What part of the proposal is Araluen willing to negotiate on?
The decision to cease operation of Day Services at Rosanna has been made by Araluen’s Board and ELT in line with their responsibility to safeguard Araluen’s longevity and is not open to consultation. What we are consulting on is the changes to our organisational structure and feedback on how this change is to be implemented. Staff whose roles are directly impacted have discussed their circumstances and provided feedback on an individual basis with management and we will accommodate their preferences wherever it is possible to do so without impacting service quality.
30 March 2023
15. Is there consideration being put into ensuring Rosanna participants entire support network are being informed and worked closely with for the change? (i.e. support coordinators/PBS practitioners/OT’s etc)
It will be the role of transition team to consult with participants and their primary family members or carers to decide how and when their independently contracted support people and wider networks are informed. Araluen is willing to offer any assistance we can to make the transition to new supports as smooth as possible for participants and their families.
14. Once practice leaders go does that mean Cindy will be managing Diamond Creek and Lower Plenty? Or will we have a separate manager to Lower Plenty? How will this look for staff?
As per the proposed Org Chart, each day service will be managed by the assigned manager. Please note that the role of manager at DC is in an acting capacity while the permanent manager is on maternity leave.
We understand that everyone is eager to know how staff teams at our other services will be affected. Unfortunately, we cannot answer this while consultation is underway. Once managers have received and considered input from Rosanna staff, we will be able to provide more information. Staff movements and transitions will be dependent upon participant transitions.
13. When are practice leaders leaving? Is there a 6-month transition like there is for Rosanna or is it earlier?
We cannot comment on individual cases until the consultation period is complete. We’ll provide more information after this time.
27 March 2023
12. Can the transition period be extended from 6 months until the end of the year?
We have received feedback from multiple people about the timeline to cease operation of Day Services at Rosanna and it is something we are considering as part of the 2-week consultation process.
11. What will happen if Rosanna participants aren’t successful at finding alternative supports?
Our transition team will assist Rosanna participants to find alternative supports. The team will do everything they can to assist participants to find additional supports and/or services external to Araluen.
10. Can any staff member express their interest in a redundancy?
As our aim is to retain as many staff as possible through this period of change, we will not be offering expressions of interest for voluntary redundancy for Araluen staff who are not directly impacted by the changes to Day Services at Rosanna.
9. Why are you proposing a new senior manager role if we need to save money?
Feedback tells us that managers are spending too much time on administrative tasks and not enough time engaging with their staff and participants. This new structure will enable managers to have more time with participants and their teams as we will provide support with the administration side of things.
8. Why are practice leaders roles being made redundant when GM’s have personal assistants?
Currently at Araluen there is one assistant role. This is a part time role that supports the CEO and Board. Individual GMs do not have personal assistants.
21 March 2023
7. Why are we making these changes?
For some time now we have been very open and honest about the financial losses Araluen is incurring. This is what prompted our service review as well as planning out what the future will look like for us, as those losses are not sustainable in the long term.
While the review and subsequent planning process did find some areas where we can increase revenue, the reality is these small gains will not be enough to continue subsidising day services.
That’s why, after some months of deliberation, we have decided to cease operation of Day Services at Rosanna.
6. Do you know which people will go where?
When we meet with impacted staff individually, we will discuss available opportunities at other sites and in other parts of the organisation. Staff preferences along with participant needs at different sites will be taken into account as part of the consultation process.
5. How can we find out more about the proposed changes to existing roles?
When we meet with impacted staff individually, we will walk them through the proposed changes to their job descriptions. They will also be provided with the information in writing.
4. Where can I go for support?
Speak with your manager about any concerns you might have. Additionally, Araluen’s employee assistance program is available to anyone who needs it. Staff can access counsellors informed about these proposed changes at Acacia by phoning 1300 364 273 and quoting code 86877.
3. Why are we having a consultation period?
We have certain obligations we need to meet under Araluen’s Enterprise Agreement. Part of our agreement means we need to allow time for impacted staff to provide their feedback on any proposed changes, which we will need to consider.
2. What will happen at the end of the consultation period?
After the consultation period has ended, we will make another announcement advising what the final changes will be. They may be slightly different to what is proposed as we take staff feedback on board during the consultation period.
1. How will the transition team help participants?
The transition team will be responsible for assisting participants to find alternative supports, outside the organisation. Transition team members will be the first point of contact between participants, their families, carers and will also contact external organisations on their behalf.