Independent information sharing plays essential market stewardship functions within the NDIS, says Centre for Social Impact

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday March 13, 2020

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Information sharing services are “crucial” for market function and to meet the goals of participants under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a new report has found.

The latest report from the University of New South Wales Centre for Social Impact looked at the distinct role information provision plays in the market.

Authored by Associate Professor Gemma Carey and Eleanor Malbon and launched on Friday, the paper noted that the NDIS is a complex reform with more than 9000 markets.

While stewardship is largely viewed as the role of central government agencies, “the complexity of NDIS markets suggests that they are too varied, too high in number, and too geographically dispersed” to be managed by central government alone, the report argued. It has called for local action to be taken to steward NDIS markets, with the support of central government.

According to the report, independent and properly resourced information sharing has been playing market stewardship functions within the NDIS in a number of ways, including:

  • Providing a basis for participants to make informed decisions about what services meet their needs, and supporting choice and control,
  • Stimulating market innovation,
  • Supporting mainstream services to reorientate to then become providers within the NDIS,
  • Supporting existing disability providers to stay in the market,
  • Ensuring quality and safeguarding principles.

The Centre for Social Impact used IDEAS as a case study of a disability information service, and examined its market stewardship role within the NDIS market. The organisation is the largest and most responsive disability information service in Australia, fielding roughly 144 calls per week.

According to the report, IDEAS differs from other disability information sharing services by providing personalised and fully independent information about local disability markets to callers from around Australia.

Information sharing services like IDEAS are “crucial for market function and to meet the goals of NDIS participants”, the report found.

Key market stewardship functions played by IDEAS include tailored information which helps NDIS participants find or change providers, and enables them to “better understand how to have their needs met by the NDIS system”.

The organisation provides support for informed decision-making, not just information about available services, the report found. The use of information sharing also “builds the capacity of participants as informed consumers”, and reorients people with disability to “work within the new structures and culture” of the scheme.

“The structure of IDEAS as an organisation is well-suited to provide accurate and independent information to NDIS participants and is scalable to a national level,” the research concluded.

“The loss of IDEAS as an organisation would leave a problematic and highly concerning gap in the system of market stewardship in the NDIS, leaving many NDIS participants with a lack of clarity of how the NDIS works and how to use it to meet their service needs. When citizens cannot get services that meet their needs, or no services at all, quasi-markets have failed to meet their goal (and governments may end up in breach of their social contract)”.

In light of the research the report recommended that:

  • Information provision be approached as a key market stewardship function for the NDIS,
  • Information provision be supported as a systemic intervention into the NDIS scheme, which supports both choice and control and market capacity,
  • As well as government provision of information, there be independent and personalised information services, beyond an online list of available services,
  • A levy be placed across all participant plans to cover the costs of providing independent, accurate information on services in a range of modalities nationally.

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