Working in the NGO Sector

As part of the transition to the NDIS, we want to retain the expertise, experience and relationships that ADHC staff have in the disability sector once the NSW Government is no longer a provider or disability supports from 2018.

Temporary staff assignments to work in the non-government sector is one of the ways the NSW Government is partnering with the sector to support the transfer of experience and expertise and build on operational relationships for shared benefit.

Temporary assignments are possible under Section 66 (S66) of the Government Sector Employment Act (GSE Act) 2013.

Jo MurraySome ADHC staff members have already taken advantage of this opportunity - meet Jo Murray, an ADHC speech pathologist who was working full time out of the Maitland office in the Hunter New England district. Jo is passionate about her work and the clients, most children, she supports.

Jo is one of two speech pathologists covering a large area in the Hunter that reaches from Maitland and Cessnock to Dungog, Scone and Denman. She covers the Upper Hunter and because of this geographic focus she has developed strong connections in these communities.

Contemplating her future after ADHC, Jo originally responded to a job ad with a local NGO but her application was unsuccessful. However, she impressed them so much that a new part time position was created for her. That's where the S66 temporary assignment came in, enabling Jo to continue to work two days a week at ADHC and three days at Early Links Early Intervention Inclusion Services in Ashtonfield.

A supportive manager at the NGO and at ADHC helped Jo navigate her way through the process. Jo's priority has been to make sure her skills stayed in the area and her S66 temporary assignment is supporting this goal.

So what is different now that Jo's working at the NGO?

Well, for one thing her caseload now includes a broader range of clients. At ADHC she saw clients with very high support needs. At the NGO, she was surprised to find that most of her clients were talking quite well! The starting point for her work is totally different now.

The NGO receives funding from a variety of sources including FaHCSIA and Better Start (Federal Government), Chronic Disease Management Plans through Medicare, ADHC and through NDIA packages. So the funding environment under which sh e is operating is very different and it is quite confusing to work out from where the clients are funded. It can be confronting for Jo to have to present clients with a bill, or send them off to source funding. As clients/families are charged for her time at an hourly rate and have a finite amount of funding, people feel they need a lot out of a session and it can be hard to work at a pace that gives parents the right amount to work on without overloading them.

Jo says it is good to get a new perspective from the 'other side'. The NGO she is working for is community based and an early intervention service so her work still involves visiting preschools and families. With her teaching qualifications (which incidentally she has never directly used!), she loves working in the school system especially doing school transition with children in the 6 - 8 year old group.

The skills and experience she has developed working at ADHC means she can help people with disability at the NGO who have a higher level or support needs. The way she does things now has changed but those skills are still valuable.

So what is Jo's advice for people contemplating a S66 assignment?

If you get the chance, try it! She has learned so much from the experience.

An issue for Jo has been managing the two caseloads she now has at ADHC and the NGO. But both her managers have been very supportive and talk regularly to each other to negotiate positively about the arrangement and to resolve any issues before they have a chance to escalate. They have also exercised common sense to help her manage her dual roles. An example of this collaborative approach has been that both organisations have agreed Jo can be flexible with her work days and time to schedule client appointments and attend school meetings. Given the large geographic area she covers, this is a very sensible arrangement which Jo appreciates.

While Jo misses working every day with the small, tightknit group of people at Maitland, her colleagues in both organisations have been supportive and helped her deal with the challenges she faces.

Working in an NGO has been different from what Jo expected but she is glad that she's had the chance to do it while still being able to stay connected to ADHC.

Jo's S66 temporary assignment has been a success but an arrangement like this is not going to be the right thing for everyone. If you're considering a S66 assignment, keep in mind that any assignment needs to have clear benefits for you, the NGO and FACS. As you would expect, FACS will make the final decision about whether or not an assignment is approved.

More information about Section 66 of the GSE Act is available on the FACS intranet at http://intranet.facs.nsw.gov.au/internal_services/strategic_human_resources/temporaryassignments

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Page last modified by JT on June 2, 2016 at 1:37 am