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Disability Services Fighting to Stay Afloat


21 February 2019 at 8:32 am
Luke Michael
Disability providers are struggling to meet the needs of their clients under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, according to a new report that warns the sustainability of the sector is at risk.


Luke Michael | 21 February 2019 at 8:32 am


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Disability Services Fighting to Stay Afloat
21 February 2019 at 8:32 am

Disability providers are struggling to meet the needs of their clients under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, according to a new report that warns the sustainability of the sector is at risk.

The Centre for Social Impact’s (CSI) latest report examined National Disability Services’ Annual Market Survey and found the disability sector continued to be characterised by disruption due to the NDIS rollout.

It said the financial position of many providers was becoming more precarious, noting that compared to previous years more providers were operating at a loss – 28 per cent compared to 21 per cent in 2016.

CSI research director, Associate Professor Gemma Carey, told Pro Bono News more market gaps would develop if providers dropped out of the scheme because they could not run a sustainable business.

“The qualitative results suggest that providers are struggling with high administrative loads which are not covered by NDIS prices,” Carey said.

“If organisations close due to financial instability, we are likely to see more market gaps emerge.”

Almost 70 per cent of organisations also admitted they had received requests for services they were not able to provide.

Researchers said they were not yet sure if this was due to growing service gaps or a lack of provider knowledge caused by the fragmented disability market.

The report also warned there was alarmingly low levels of collaboration within the sector.

Carey encouraged greater collaboration between providers, with the report noting the NDIS was premised on a “robust ecosystem of service providers and collaborative service offerings”.

“While we don’t have data from previous years, we feel this low level of collaboration must be a recent feature of the sector given the amount of collaboration that went into the Every Australian Counts campaign and getting the NDIS in place,” she said.

“Without collaboration, services become more disconnected from each other and more difficult to coordinate care.”

To address some of these issues, Carey recommended that more local discretion was allowed in price setting to help providers stay afloat. She said her biggest concerns for the scheme currently were around equity.

The report echoed this recommendation, while also calling on the NDIS to release accurate supply and demand data to providers.

NDS CEO Chris Tanti told Pro Bono News recently that disability service providers were experiencing a lack of data – especially by location – and that this was seriously hampering evidence-based planning and the ability of both existing and new organisations to meet market needs.

CSI is looking to address this through a provider survey aimed at identifying market gaps in the NDIS.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

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

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2 comments

  • Avatar Nick says:

    Encouraging greater collaboration between providers is great in theory but, when organisations (especially NFPs) are already running thin and operating at a loss, chance are there is little wiggle room to allocate resources to developing strategic alliances, B2B marketing and growing professional networks. In concept, this puts further strain on the providers.

  • Avatar Kate says:

    As a community registered nurse on the Sunshine Coast working for a long established well known company, we have found the NDIS to be lacking. It does not automatically support ‘nursing services’. Unless nursing services such as catheter changes by an RN is specifically added to ‘the support plan’ and justified why it has to be a nurse at the time of the application, the client misses out. We’ve been instructed to refer often severely different abled clients to attend GP or hospital for routine changes that were previously often for years attended by a nurse in their home. So far I have noticed a large amount of unqualified carers having no option but to attend to all manner of nursing specific tasks putting both the client and care giver at risk because “it costs too much and distresses the clients to physically get to the GP every 6 weeks, and often the GP is booked out.” This reality is happening more and more. The amount of paper work using NDIS is horrendous. A lot of service companies are simply stating “their full” for new NDIS clients when they’re not because it is a logistical nightmare.

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