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Employee-Led Mutual to Deliver NDIS Services in SA

19 February 2018 at 10:54 am
Luke Michael
An employee-led mutual in South Australia will become the first employee-owned social welfare business to deliver services for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Luke Michael | 19 February 2018 at 10:54 am


Employee-Led Mutual to Deliver NDIS Services in SA
19 February 2018 at 10:54 am

An employee-led mutual in South Australia will become the first employee-owned social welfare business to deliver services for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Under this new agreement supported by the federal government an employee-led not-for-profit mutual will become the Partner in the Community delivering Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) services for the National Disability Insurance Agency in SA.

The SA government announced Local Area Coordination (LAC) services in the state in January, with this new ECEI public service mutual being the final NDIS partner arrangement in SA.

The NDIA consulted heavily with the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) to implement this hybrid delivery model, which is made up of highly skilled allied health professionals.

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison said she welcomed the decision by the SA government to go ahead with the employee-led mutual, which she labelled a better alternative to traditional privatisation models.

“This truly innovative move marks the first time in Australia that a government has supported the establishment of an employee-owned social welfare business,’’ Morrison said.

“The South Australian government is to be congratulated for thinking outside the box and adopting the hybrid, mutual method of delivering these vital services, instead of going down the track of full privatisation.

“I would also like to thank the federal Coalition government and commend their bipartisan support of the move by the ALP-led South Australian government.”

Morrison told Pro Bono News that an employee-led mutual would offer high-quality care for NDIS participants.

“The reason we advocate for this model is because it is user-centric and focuses on what the clients and staff need to get the best delivery of services,” Morrison said.

“We’re talking about high-quality consistent care. They have a flatter hierarchical structure because the frontline staff are working at the coalface with the users of NDIS and their families.

“So those staff are the ones involved in management decisions, and their experiences directly feed back into the planning and decisions around delivering the service. So it’s a much more agile and nimble form of service delivery.”

This ECEI grant agreement is expected to create 50 full-time jobs and will deliver $47 million in ECEI services across SA from March this year.

Morrison said those receiving ECEI services – children up to six years old who have a developmental delay or disability – could expect no disruption to service under this new agreement.

“For children living in South Australia, they will not experience any disruption in the continuity of care with their trusted service providers. So the people they’re used to working with are the same people who will be part of service delivery. It’s a very fluid way of transitioning a service,” she said.

The BCCM CEO added that this hybrid delivery model was only the “tip of the iceberg”.

“Because we now have an innovative scheme like the NDIS which provides people with their own budget control, there’s now the opportunity for choice and control to deliver more diversity in terms of who delivers these services and how these services are delivered,” Morrison said.

“This is the first one to use this particular model, but it’s well known and used around the world. And all the experience and evidence points [out] that because of the quality of these organisations and the high satisfaction of these customers using these services, they will grow where markets facilitate them.

“So the South Australians are really kicking something off that we think will be emulated when the benefits of it are clearly seen.”

Up to this point, Morrison said the main challenge to the growth of employee-led mutuals in Australia had been a lack of awareness that the model exists.

But with an on-the-ground example set to launch in SA, Morrison believes “there’s no reason why this hybrid model of delivering social care shouldn’t flourish in Australia”.

“The only challenge is awareness that the model exists. The two things that we’re doing to combat this is forming a national body to promote the co-operative and mutual model of enterprise in many different sectors of the economy including human services,” she said.

“And secondly, working with [employee-led mutuals] like in South Australia where they have made an informed choice to go in this direction, and bringing along the existing sector to support them in this journey.”

The NDIS in SA is expected to be fully running by July 2018.  

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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