Leading into the 18 May Federal election, bi-partisanship often takes a back-seat.
The recent point-scoring relating to the NDIS budget position ignores one important matter - are the supports that are being funded by the NDIA achieving quality outcomes for people living with disability, and the people that support them each and every day?
Much has been made of the Government’s recent $850 million boost to the NDIS, by way of raising the hourly rates for therapy supports and attendant care providers. Debate around whether it goes far enough or should have come earlier aside, nearly all in the sector have rightly welcomed the increased price limits.
In the week of the announcement, the Morrison Government was accused of creating a surplus off the back of a $1.6 billion NDIS underspend, resulting in plenty of finger pointing and partisan point scoring.
While pouring over these announcements and observing the subsequent debate, there was one thing that stood out to me as a rather insidious issue. While much was being made of the money involved, very little focus was being paid to the outcomes that the money is being used to deliver.
We simply can’t stand by and let dollars and cents become the be-all and end-all when it comes to public discourse around the NDIS.
While funding is certainly a huge part of the equation, what the money is being spent on, and the outcomes that are being achieved for people living with disability are equally, if not more important and should be receiving much more attention. Any assumption that the amount of money spent on the Scheme is equally correlated to Participant outcomes is not only incorrect, it does a disservice to the 460,000 Australians with a disability who rely on the NDIS to live the life they want.
In short, more or less money spent by the NDIA does not necessarily result in better or poorer outcomes for people living with disability.
Raising the quality of services
Anyone operating in the disability sector knows that not all service providers are created equal. While the vast majority are focussed on delivering high-quality supports, I’m sure many of you – like me – have heard some disparaging stories. By ensuring more emphasis is put on the outcomes being delivered, not only will less scrupulous service providers be weeded out, those who are having a genuine impact will be rewarded. In turn, standards across the sector will be lifted, to the great benefit of those who matter most in all this: people with a disability. The newly formed NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, which I wrote about in my previous post, will be integral in helping to achieve this outcomes-based approach.
Give more credit to the important role intermediaries play
Intermediaries, such as Plan Managers and Support Coordinators, play a very important role in the success of the NDIS. For many NDIS Participants, Plan Management and Support Coordination services are crucial in achieving the goals in their NDIS plan, allowing them to make the most out of their funding and find the rights supports for their needs. As CEO of Plan Partners, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact that we have on our customers. By providing impartial advice, helping people navigate the complexities of the Scheme, and letting them know they’re not alone, we can really be the catalyst to achieving those all-important outcomes. Furthermore, we also play a key role in educating service providers on how to work with the NDIS, so they can provide the best-possible support to their customers and continue to grow their business.
So with this in mind, let’s work to shift the discussion away from the budgets alone and instead give equal time to how the money is spent and how we can ensure that it’s delivering genuine, tangible outcomes to NDIS participants.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Do you think enough is being done to ensure the Scheme is outcomes based or is too much prominence given to the budgets alone?
Find the original post on LinkedIn here.