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Disability Sector Lacks Confidence in NDIS Rollout – Report

8 December 2015 at 11:12 am
Ellie Cooper
Two-thirds of the Australian disability sector believe governments are not responding to their requirements, according to a report on the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Ellie Cooper | 8 December 2015 at 11:12 am


Disability Sector Lacks Confidence in NDIS Rollout – Report
8 December 2015 at 11:12 am

Two-thirds of the Australian disability sector believe governments are not responding to their requirements, according to a report on the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The State of the Disability Sector Report 2015, released Monday by National Disability Services (NDS), found that while 66 per cent of organisations agreed that policy reforms were “heading in the right direction”, 64 per cent were concerned about a lack of government collaboration.

Only one-third, 35 per cent, of trial site organisations believed the National Disability Insurance Agency was working well with providers to implement the scheme.

“The State of the Disability Sector report includes a business confidence survey which shows that most disability service providers are cautiously optimistic and plan to grow in the next six months, but a high proportion think that government agencies are not working closely enough with the sector to implement the NDIS successfully,” NDS Chief Executive, Dr Ken Baker, said

Baker said while the NDIS was the “right destination”, poor access to market information, cumbersome processes, insufficient financial reserves within organisations, and low prices were also identified as barriers to a sustainable and dynamic system.

“It will double the funding for disability support, expand choice for people with disability and their families, invest in early intervention and replace a fragmented inequitable system with one that gives people across Australia access to reasonable and necessary supports,” he said.  

“But there are legitimate questions about how we get to this destination and at what pace, and how to turn the ambitious vision of the NDIS into reality. How can we create an NDIS that works well for everyone?”

While demand and competition were found to be increasing at NDIS trial sites, small organisations were facing larger risks.

Organisations with less than $1 million in turnover reported higher financial stress than large organisations, with 44 per cent having insufficient financial resources compared to 31 per cent overall. They were also more likely to see the NDIS as a risk rather than an opportunity.

Another key finding from the snapshot was that almost four in 10, or 38 per cent, of all disability workers were casual employees, a relatively high rate which is likely to increase under the NDIS.

“The NDIS requires a flexible workforce, but there is evidence that high rates of casual workers lead to less investment in training and qualifications and to high staff turnover. This would present challenges for organisations and policy makers seeking to ensure robust service quality and consumer safeguards,” Baker said.

“Workforce casualisation can result in inconsistency of support for participants, low investment in training and qualifications, and weak career pathways.”

The report also highlighted the need to improve employment opportunities for people with disability.

“Increasing the employment of Australians with disability will require reform and investment,” Baker said.

“We need a system that enables providers to engage with young people with disability while they’re still at school, that supports diverse job options and career pathways and that encourages government and the private sector to employ people with disability and purchase from organisations that employ people with disability.”

The report included 20 things NDS would like to see accomplished in 2016, including bilateral agreements with all states and territories, funding certainty, and a national disability employment framework.

The State of the Disability Sector Report 2015 was comprised of first release data from the largest analysis of the disability workforce conducted in Australia. NDS collated data from 20,000 employees to provide the snapshot of the disability workforce.

Download the full report here.

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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