Evaluating scope for innovation and choice under the NDIS

The introduction of the NDIS was a much needed move in the right direction for our community. However, more than three years down the track, many who exist to support people with disabilities are questioning whether the insurance scheme is really providing choice and control.

The scheme was introduced to drive innovation in the sector and in doing so, provide people with greater opportunity, choice and control to individuals. That should have meant that organisations would work smarter to meet people’s individual needs by creating specialist or niche markets and services that would provide people with different abilities opportunity to live their lives the way they want.

But this is not the case.

A number of larger providers transitioned to the scheme and instead of using it as a platform to provide new and innovative services, they maintained the status quo. For the most part they continued to rebadge the same services.

There has been less than 3 per cent movement since the introduction of NDIS in the region. This might indicate that people are happy with their provider, or perhaps, it could mean they don’t realise they have a choice or how to exercise it. Our experience is that most people don’t know their rights and they aren’t aware they can change or choose a range of providers. Essentially, they can take the best from all.

If you were a conspiracy theorist you might think that the NDIS was created to clean-up and rationalise the sector. Perhaps so, but those organisations that were and remain committed to creating the right support outcomes, prefer to think that there is opportunity to challenge the norm. It’s about being transparent and asking tough questions about what services we provide and how we deliver them.

Organisations working in the sector have honest conversations with clients and get creative about how they can play a positive role in their lives.  But, they must also do this in a responsible and sustainable business model that ensures longevity and innovation in all services offered to people who live with a disability.

We have to stop thinking about people with different abilities from a deficit perspective. We need to start thinking about people with different abilities who will enhance the diversity and vibrancy of our community. Mostly it’s about ensuring that we can assist people to live their best lives.

Don MacAskill is the CEO of Butter Fish Services supporting people with a disability and specialises in providing culturally appropriate supports to Aboriginal people.

Source: Newcastle Herald article By Don MacAskill
24 October 2018

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