young girl and woman using sign language to communicate

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has fundamentally altered how people with disability receive services and supports in Australia. The impact of this new service delivery model has been felt in full by people with disability as well as the support workers and service providers who serve them.

Since its inception in 2013, the scheme has rolled out to at least 338,982 people with disability, according to the latest NDIA’s Quarterly Report to the COAG Disability Reform Council. Almost 20% of Australians have a disability (4.3 million people). Of these, the NDIS will only ever support around 500,000 participants (or 11% of people with disability) at full rollout. It is not the whole system but aims to work within an integrated system where mainstream government agencies, businesses and services are made more inclusive and accessible.

In Six Years and Counting: The NDIS and the Australian Disability Services System, researchers from the University of Western Australia found that “people with disability are the shock absorbers for any volatility caused by poor policy and practice—they are the ones that ultimately feel the impact of systemic challenges.” The disability support market is struggling, even after six years, to adapt to the artificially introduced NDIS market.

Fran Connelley is a not-for-profit marketing specialist and Director of FC Marketing. Recently she argued via Pro Bono Australia, that the disability workforce is the second NDIS shock absorber, and that the current funding model is failing to attract and retain a qualified, motivated and suitably compensated workforce.

The impacts of the migration to the scheme can be felt across the board, creating a quasi-market with set pricing and very little flexibility for service providers. Service providers are finding it hard to remain competitive and agile within the NDIS framework, at the cost of attracting, training and retaining qualified and high-quality support workers.

As Fran Connelly notes, “In practice, the NDIS business model is fundamentally at odds with the nature of the support service its customers were promised: a high quality individualised support service that offers choice and control.”

Market deficiencies such as ‘thin’ markets and market gaps, especially in regional and rural areas, which researchers from the UNSW Centre for Social Impact have found to “threaten the public policy goal of increasing choice and control for people with disability”.

Contact

Associate Professor Gemma Carey

UNSW Centre for Social Impact
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Professor David Gilchrist

University of Western Australia 
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Phone 08 6488 2876

Fran Connelley

FC Marketing
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Phone 0419 479 531

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