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Implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme

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 needed.

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 agency level.

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 market advantage.

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.

Report and photos by Fiona Basile | CSSV 

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