NDIS Shakes Up NFP Cottage Industry
14 June 2016 at 9:16 am
The cottage-industry history of the Not for Profit sector in Australia is likely to leave many organisations at risk in the new world of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, writes disability consultant Natasha Hudson.
Many Not for Profit (NFP) organisations are born of mums and dads wanting better for their loved ones – fed up with what is, or what is not, on offer.
With little need for business prowess (prior to the NDIS), it appears this cottage-industry history has formalised practices which may leave some organisations at risk in an NDIS world.
What are the costs?
Some NFPs are comfortable remaining blind to who’s doing what, for whom, when, where and how.
Human resources in a human services organisation represent the greatest proportion of expenditure. Organisations at the mercy of their support workers (a largely casual workforce) to advise on direct service delivery costs are operating arse about.
How you might be spending more
This occurs when support workers deliver support beyond what is agreed to in service agreements. This support will have no secured revenue. If the organisation has no clear policies and procedures in place, the organisation will be liable for the hours worked.
In a block-funded environment, organisations might have had the luxury to roster more workers than necessary (particularly when penalty rates apply). This practice will be unsustainable.
From anarchy to accountability
Centralising and streamlining functions (not directly related to service delivery) should reduce unnecessary burdens for participants and free up support workers to focus efforts on improving the delivery of quality individualised support.
Organisations attempting to achieve greater efficiencies will likely face push-back (from all sides).
But it is only with clearly articulated, communicated and understood terms of engagement that an accountable workforce is possible.
Make every action intentional and every penny count
While every practice is worker-centred, the organisation will remain unable to grasp the reins and steer the pack to operate with greater agility and responsiveness (to participants changing circumstances, organisational needs, and further sectoral reforms).
Delivering support in an NDIS environment will require NFPs to run like for-profits.
In order to make the right changes, organisations will need to have a clear understanding of their service offer, how it’s delivered and what it costs. Adequate operational oversight will underpin scalability, which may be necessary given the low margins on offer through retrospective NDIS claims
Opportunity for greater accountability
The NDIA’s new Service Booking requirement (effective from 1 July 2016) means that participants must ‘book’ their services in the NDIS operating system in order for service providers to be eligible to claim for services rendered.
This requirement means that organisations will need to know what services will be delivered to whom, by whom and when.
Organisations, start your engines
The NDIS is around the corner.
About the author: Natasha Hudson moved to Canberra from Canada, where she drafted accessibility regulation for the Ontario Government. In Canberra she was an adviser to COAG’s national disability reform agenda with the ACT Government in 2010. She has represented government on national working groups and advised senior executives and ministers on a range of issues, including the implications of the NDIS in response to the Productivity Commission inquiry, and subsequently as part of their consideration of becoming a launch site. Hudson has relocated to Newcastle where she has been contracting with for-profit and Not for Profit organisations affected by the NDIS.