Providers slam government’s NDIS workforce strategy
27 March 2019 at 4:35 pm
Australia’s peak disability services body is deeply disappointed with the federal government’s plan to grow the National Disability Insurance Scheme workforce, arguing much of the strategy is just a rehash of old news.
National Disability Services has been calling for a National Workforce Strategy for the NDIS since 2013, but said the government’s strategy released last weekend contained only a few things that would help develop the NDIS workforce.
The Morrison government’s workforce strategy aims to fill the need for around 90,000 full-time disability workers to meet NDIS demand over the next five years.
“This provides significant opportunities for jobseekers, including jobseekers with disability, to take advantage of new roles being created to provide safe and quality services to people with disability,” Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher said.
“To enable Australians to take advantage of these opportunities it is important to provide the right information and appropriate support to NDIS providers to grow their business and importantly create jobs.”
The workforce strategy offers support for organisations looking to enter the scheme, with up to $20,000 of tailored business support available under the $5.6 million Transition Assistance Funding program.
The strategy also includes advice to help providers transition from block funding to the market‑based NDIS funding model.
NDS acting CEO, David Moody, said the government appeared to have just pulled together information that was already in the public domain and dressed it up as new news.
“It is very disappointing that much of the content of their [strategy] consists of past announcements and what is currently being done,” Moody said.
“Our position, as the national peak body whose members are providing the majority of NDIS services, is that a national workforce strategy is long overdue to ensure the NDIS is able to deliver on its promise of delivering the services people with disability need.”
But he said NDS welcomed the government’s commitment to provide more data to help service providers make decisions about investment and growth.
NDS told Pro Bono News in January 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.
In response, the government has released as part of the strategy a website which will showcase projected demand for NDIS services at the micro level.
This tool aims to help providers forecast projected demand for services and the future workforce by postcode.
The new website will also allow providers to self-assess their existing systems, processes and overall readiness to become a NDIS provider.
“We do welcome the commitment to providing better information to enable investment in services. Better data will help service providers make decisions about investment and growth,” Moody said.
A week out from the federal budget, NDS is also campaigning for the government to fix ongoing problems with the NDIS.
NDS believes the biggest challenge for the sector is unrealistic pricing limits – which set the maximum prices that providers can charge NDIS participants for specific supports – and has warned the sector risks market failure unless the government provides more support for providers transitioning to the scheme.
Joan McKenna-Kerr, NDS president, said many NFP providers were already being forced to cut services as a direct result of these issues.
“In particular we are finding providers reluctantly withdrawing one-on-one care services because the delivery models are just not viable,” McKenna-Kerr said.
“This is leaving those participants in the scheme with the most profound challenges, finding it harder to find the care they need.”
Moody said providers were calling for a new independent pricing body and urgent improvements to the way the NDIS is administered.
“We need to nip these issues in the bud before providers collapse and the people who rely on the scheme are left without the support they need,” he said.