Addressing ‘thin markets’ in the NDIS
10 April 2019 at 5:16 pm
The federal government is launching a wide-ranging consultation as part of a new project looking to close market gaps in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher on Sunday opened an online consultation encouraging the disability services sector, people with disability, their families and carers to share their thoughts on improving the NDIS market.
This feedback forms part of the NDIS Thin Markets Project, led by Ernst and Young and the First Peoples Disability Network, which will develop strategies to address supply gaps in “thin markets” – locations where there are not enough services.
Fletcher said the government knew thin markets existed across different parts of Australia, both in highly urbanised centres and in the most remote regions.
“Thin markets may occur in certain locations, for example where people live in regions with few or no service providers, or in different support types or participant cohorts, such as participants with certain specialised support needs,” Fletcher said.
“As the NDIS rolls out nationally, it must continue to evolve and improve so participants have access to quality services with greater choice and control.
“While ‘thin markets’ have always existed in the disability sector, the government is taking action.”
The consultation involves a thin markets discussion paper and online survey and will be followed by 24 face-to-face targeted consultations with providers and peak organisations across Australia.
Assistant Social Services Minister Sarah Henderson said the consultation would help generate innovative approaches to solve service delivery gaps which will ultimately inform future policy direction.
This could include a framework for market design and responses in thin markets, as well as trial projects to test solutions.
“The government recognises that ‘thin markets’ is a complex issue existing in diverse locations with people with a range of needs requiring more than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach,” Henderson said.
The Centre for Social Impact’s recently examined National Disability Services’ (NDS) Annual Market Survey and found the disability sector continued to be characterised by disruption due to the NDIS rollout.
CSI research director, Associate Professor Gemma Carey, told Pro Bono News in February that more market gaps would develop if providers dropped out of the scheme because they could not run a sustainable business.
CSI has looked to address this through a provider survey aimed at identifying market gaps in the NDIS.
NDS acting CEO David Moody told Pro Bono News he was pleased by the announcement, but said it was too early to say if the government’s approach would be effective.
“We welcome any efforts by the federal government to engage with the sector, people with disability and the community to understand where there are thin markets and see what can be done to fix this,” Moody said.
“Disability providers want to know where they should be placing their businesses to optimise their ability to provide services.
“National Disability Services welcomes the launch of this strategy and looks forward to being actively engaged in the consultation process and its eventual implementation.”
This project follows the government’s recent $850 million a year injection into the NDIS to grow the services market.
The government also recently launched an online NDIS Demand Map, which shows local demand for disability services under the scheme.