NDIS Pay 'Threat' Calls for Innovation
27 October 2015 at 10:53 am
Claims by disability service providers that funding rates set by the government to pay for care and support services “threatens the success of the NDIS” highlight the need for innovation in Australia’s disability sector, according to two young social entrepreneurs.
Siblings Jordan and Laura O’Reilly, who have launched an online agency HireUp, challenged the idea that the $41.18 hourly rate set by the NDIS would “barely cover the costs” of delivering personal care and community support to people with disability, arguing that the funding allocated is sufficient if services were delivered efficiently.
The pair said Australia should be leveraging disruptive technology to deliver NDIS support services more cost-effectively.
“The problem is that existing service providers are trying to make the new world of the NDIS fit with old models of service delivery,” Jordan O’Reilly said.
“The world is changing and service providers have to change too, to remain viable in the new world and to ensure quality outcomes for people with disability.”
Last week, CEO of the Windgap Foundation, Serhat Oguz, told Pro Bono Australia News the rollout of the NDIS would be positive for people with disability but the current hourly rate on offer for service providers of an initial $41 per hour would be “disastrous” for the sector.
He said it would cause many providers to close operations and ultimately impacting directly on people with disability.
Oguz, who is a services industry business veteran, said that the assumptions around productivity and imputed corporate overheads used in determining the current hourly rate, were uncommercial and unrealistic.
Rejecting the notion that the biggest threat to the success of the NDIS was the low hourly rate being offered, Jordan O’Reilly said the biggest threat was in fact a disability sector which does not adapt old practices.
“If the average support worker earns about $23 per hour, there is plenty of scope in the funding arrangements currently proposed by NDIS for the delivery of great supports. It just has to be done efficiently, and technology can help us with that,” he said.
The social enterprise, HireUp is an online platform that allows people with disability to choose their own support workers in their area.
O’Reilly said the HireUp team takes care of all administration issues, including payroll, insurances, tax and superannuation.
“HireUp does many of the things traditional support worker agencies do”, he said.
“The main difference is that our online model harnesses the desire of many people with disability to manage elements of their support worker relationships, thereby keeping prices low.
“We also leverage technology to drive efficiency. For example, trainings for support workers can be delivered in a bespoke manner online to ensure workers are fully trained to do their job well, but at a reduced cost to government and tax-payers.
“I disagree with the idea that increased efficiency has to mean lower wages for support workers, or reduced quality for clients.
“The challenge for our sector in coming months and years is to totally re-imagine the way that supports are currently delivered. If we do that, people with disability, support workers and taxpayers will have the outcomes they deserve under NDIS.”