Disability Industry Plan Cites Large Scale Growth in WA NDIS Transition
Wednesday, 13th September 2017 at 4:46 pm
Transitioning to the full National Disability Insurance Scheme has the potential to trigger large-scale economic growth and job creation in Western Australia, despite the state’s future operational status within the national scheme being still unclear, according to a new report.
The WA arm of Australia’s peak body for disability service organisations, National Disability Services (NDS) has released its Disability Services Sector Industry Plan showing that the total economic contribution of the disability sector in WA would increase from $1.4 billion to $2.7 billion in 2020.
The NDS WA estimated that the number of jobs generated by the NDIS in WA would also double over the next three years, rising from 10,507 in 2017 to 20,144 direct and indirect full-time jobs by 2020.
In its recommendations, the report called for state government funding for transition planning particularly in regional areas including service delivery innovation grants to “fund the trial and/or implementation of innovative service delivery models in the WA disability sector”.
“Innovation in service delivery will be critical to ensure that service providers are continually improving the way in which the needs of people with disability are met, and also ensuring that they remain financially sustainable,” the report said.
Launched by the WA Minister for Disability Services Stephen Dawson at the NDS state conference on Monday, the industry plan highlighted the need for a close working partnership between the state government and the disability service sector to improve the lives of people with disability.
NDS WA commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting to research the contribution and potential of the WA disability sector under the NDIS.
The report’s release came as Western Australia remained undecided on how the NDIS would operate within the national scheme.
In the other states and territories, the transition to full-scheme implementation of the NDIS started in 2015-16, but it was pushed back in WA, where a trial and evaluation of a state governed NDIS was compared to one that was governed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).
Following the evaluation of the trial sites and negotiation between the WA and Commonwealth governments, a bilateral agreement was signed on 1 February 2017 specifying that the NDIS reforms would be implemented in WA under state based legislation.
As part of the agreement, the WA state based legislation had to be consistent with the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 on matters relating to eligibility and access to supports provided through the NDIS.
Before the WA state election a new WA NDIS authority, governed by a seven member independent WA board, was given responsibility for the implementation and administration of the NDIS reforms.
The newly elected WA Labor government however said it was consulting with the sector and deciding whether to continue with the current bilateral agreement, or whether to cancel it and transfer control of the administration of the NDIS in WA to the national NDIA.
The Western Australian version of the NDIS had been previously slammed by the man known as the “father” of the scheme, Bruce Bonyhady who described the separate WA scheme as “deeply flawed”.
A decision by the WA government is expected in October.
NDS WA state manager Julie Waylen told Pro Bono News the industry plan was a “unique evidence-based document for both the sector and the state government to put people with disability at the heart of the plan”.
“The success of the NDIS in WA relied on organisations having a quality and skilled workforce that could meet demand, strengthen safeguards and adapt and implement the changes required,’’ Waylen said.
“We are keen to see a disability workforce that is contemporary and high performing, where we can attract and recruit the right people to the right jobs.
“In WA this will require significant investment and support from the state government to ensure we can meet the expected increase in demand and deliver good outcomes that make a difference to the lives of people with disability.
“Without a coordinated, strategic approach to change management, there is a risk that growth in demand will outpace supply and that service innovation will be impeded.
‘’Strong investment strategies and support will deliver a well-functioning NDIS to improve the lives of people with disability and their families, and create a sustainable disability support system.’’
On the question on the future of the bilateral agreement Waylen said: “Government certainty on the governance arrangements around the roll out of the NDIS would be great. However, careful consideration is required around that. The NDIS is here. We are in transition. It will fully transition in 2020. The state government has a very clear role as does the Commonwealth in the joint arrangement and we need to ensure the transition is well coordinated.”
Read the highlights of the WA Disability Services Sector Industry Plan here.