The National Disability Insurance
Scheme is one of the major Australian reform programs of recent decades,
promising to transform the provision of support for people with disability.
With the transition to NDIS
well-underway, Catholic social service providers met on 15 December to take
stock of progress and of issues faced in providing the services that are
There is much work to be done.
David Moody, Victorian State Manager
of National Disability Service, provided an update on the rollout and
implementation of the Scheme.
He noted that a scheme of such
magnitude was always going to face teething problems, and he identified many
issues that need to be addressed in order for the NDIS to facilitate high
quality services. A number of these
issues related to the efficiency of the scheme’s administration; some to policy
parameters – eg, channeling all funding via individual clients. Other issues related to the need for state
Governments to continue funding needed services that will not form part of the
NDIS, and others still to the development of a skilled workforce.
This is a challenging agenda, and
Catholic social services are called to continue to play their part in advocacy
on policy issues at the national and state levels.
St John of God Accord is a major
provider of services to people with an intellectual disability. CEO Tony Hollamby provided their perspective
on the NDIS.
Tony used the term ‘disruption’: the changes for scheme participants and for
service providers are profound, and ongoing.
He pointed out the implications for providers of a move from block
funding to client-directed funding; of the introduction of client choice of
provider; of the central role of technology in efficient management at the
Tony’s key message was that a focus
on people, and developing and maintaining deep and long-lasting relationships, is
central to successful engagement with people with disability, and with the NDIS
as a program. In a market-driven system,
the values underpinning Catholic service providers should provide a strong
Organisations that do not have a
major focus on the provision of disability services are particularly
challenged, and this impacts on our society:
Sacred Heart Mission, Jesuit Social Services and many others work with
people who are at the margins of our society, and who are often not linked in
to other, larger service providers. The
policy and advocacy work of our sector must continue to include a focus on
funding support for such smaller scale disability support programs, which are
currently under pressure.
In closing, executive officer of
Catholic Social Services Victoria, Denis Fitzgerald noted that we must also
look beyond the provision of Government funded care: in some circumstances local parishes and
smaller, community-based groups can be an effective way of providing care and
assistance to some of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of people;
and their work can complement that of the professional service providers.
The Catholic Social Services
national conference on 21-23 February 2018 – Hearing, Healing, Hope – will
include a significant focus on the NDIS, from a policy perspective and looking
to lessons learned by Catholic providers across the country – see www.css.org.au for details.