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Innovative Workforce Fund Open to Anyone

27 February 2017 at 8:55 am
Wendy Williams
A $4 million fund to support projects that identify innovative ways of building and managing the disability workforce under the NDIS is calling for anyone with ideas to apply.

Wendy Williams | 27 February 2017 at 8:55 am


Innovative Workforce Fund Open to Anyone
27 February 2017 at 8:55 am

A $4 million fund to support projects that identify innovative ways of building and managing the disability workforce under the NDIS is calling for anyone with ideas to apply.

The first round of funding under the Innovative Workforce Fund is set to open on 6 March 2017.

The initiative aims to stimulate and disseminate new, more efficient and effective ways for the disability support sector to engage, develop and utilise the workforce to meet the needs of NDIS participants.

Caroline Alcorso, national manager of workforce development of National Disability Services, which has been appointed to manage the IWF, told Pro Bono News the initiative was not limited to NDS members or disability organisations.

“The scope of the funding is very broad in terms of eligibility so anyone can apply,” Alcorso said.

“It is certainly not intended to be just for established providers, it is meant to be for anybody, for individuals, for researchers, for people who are the cutting edge of experimentation of other areas.

“We know there is a lot of digital experimentation going on in today’s world and there might be people wanting to apply that to disability.

“So we’re looking to see what can come in from outside, from what might be thought of as outside the traditional disability sector as well as what ideas people are coming up with from established providers. I expect it will be a real mix.”

Alcorso said they would be looking for ideas that showed innovation.

“I guess it is an innovative workforce fund so the emphasis understandably is on the innovation, the novelty, what new contribution is being made,” she said.

“There is lots of good practice in the sector around the country but what we’re looking at I guess is where are people trying out something that is genuinely innovative, novel, really bringing a fresh approach to persistent or old problems.

“That’s the second thing that is of great importance for us, and for the government is the impact.

“So in any project that people are going to undertake, what is the broader impact of that? How will it be shared? What kind of systemic influence can it have through the changes it makes or demonstrates?

“For example it might involve a training system change, or it might demonstrate a different  approach to industrial relations, whatever it is, it is about is there any scope for this particular experiment to have a more systemic and long term effect.”

Alcorso said innovation was essential for the NDIS.

“We know that innovation is really an essential part of delivering on the promise of the NDIS, because that’s how people with disability are going to get the services they need and that they want in the right place, and get access to the supports that really fulfil the promise of the scheme,”  Alcorso said.

“We know that there is going to have to be a lot of innovation, in everything, in service models, in business models, in who comes into the sector, in how work is defined and organised, in every aspect really of disability support delivery.”

She said she was excited about seeing the applications.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest from all sorts of people from different parts of the country,” she said.

Speaking in October, Minister for Social Services Christian Porter said the IWF was a key component of the NDIS Sector Development Fund and maked the next important step in supporting the disability sector during the transition to full scheme.

“The NDIS puts the power in the hands of participants, who now have choice and control over the supports they receive and how they are delivered,” Porter said.

“That’s a significant shift for service providers, and it’s crucial that we support the sector and workforce through the change to this more competitive, individualised market.

“As providers organise and deploy their workers in new ways, this IWF will equip them with good practice and bright ideas that have been proven to work in other industries.

“With the disability support workforce expected to substantially increase by full scheme in 2020, supporting an efficient and innovative workforce that can meet the needs of NDIS participants will be key to the scheme’s success.”

The IWF will be distributed in two rounds in 2017 with final project reports completed by June 2018.

People can register their interest here. Organisations that have already registered do not need to register again.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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