How the NDIS is faring for not-for-profit service providers


September 19, 2015

The National Disability Insurance Scheme represents a paradigmatic shift that will revolutionise the disability marketplace, giving people with a disability the opportunity to be consumers with real choice, says Anne Bryce, CEO of not-for-profit community organisation Achieve Australia.

Achieve Australia has provided services and support since 1952 for people with a disability to achieve a life that is meaningful and valued. It supports people with disability to live independently in new or existing accommodation; find fulfilling work and develop work skills, and; learn and participate, by promoting and fostering greater community inclusion.

Anne Bryce spoke with IPAA about how the organisation is preparing for the NDIS rollout and what it may mean for its clients.

IPAA: Has the NDIS rolled out yet in any of the areas in which you operate and what has that process been like to date?

AB: Yes, we are a registered provider in New South Wales and recently opened our doors in the Hunter trial site.

With the federal and state government announcing, on September 16, the NDIS roll out across NSW and Victoria, commencing July 1, 2016, which is only nine months away, all of our existing state funded services will be captured under these arrangements.

For the trial site we are in the early days of that rollout as we continue to recruit the staff. Our first task has been to establish a presence and engage with the community.

By opening in the Hunter we see this as a step to expanding our geographical presence in NSW. The process to date has been straight forward and is like any business setting up in a new location and settling in.


IPAA: Can you describe what impact the NDIS will have on your organisation and how you operate?

AB: Achieve will become part of a competitive marketplace and everything that means. And at the same time we mustn’t lose sight of our vision and mission and what we are here to do.

It will have a significant and long-lasting impact on our organisation. For example, current funding block grants represents about 80-90% of our current revenue base, and that changes completely over the next 21 months. The organisation will go from receiving these grants via a few contracts with NSW Department of Family and Community Services to hundreds of clients individually funded, and going from funding in advance to funding in arrears.

The NDIS changes represent a huge and fundamental change. From the way we think about our organisation: our profile, our brand awareness; delivery of services, back of house systems, to thinking about the manner in which we operate and — we might be a not-for-profit but we need to operate taking the best business practices from corporate Australia.

It makes a difference right down to the people we employ with the level of expertise we need to operate within a commercial marketplace.


IPAA: How would you like the relationship to be managed between your service and the government under the NDIS?

AB: The relationship should be based on a partnership model to achieve the best outcome for the individual whilst recognising that the involvement with government will fundamentally shift as they will no longer be the purchaser.

I’ve always had a view that in order to address deep social issues government, non-government, not-for-profits and for-profits, have to work together.


IPAA: Can you explain what Achieve has had to do in order to prepare for and take full advantage of the NDIS?

AB: As we move into a consumer directed world no area has been left untouched across the organisation. Achieve has worked on everything from its strategic direction to its back of house operations including the direct service delivery.

And most importantly the way we communicate these changes to clients, families and carers.


IPAA: What changes do you think the NDIS will make to the lives of your clients?

AB: The change is fundamental, because the power now rests in the hands of the person, which is exactly what people were telling us they wanted. So people have choice and control in decision making in relation to the purchasing of services.

This will empower people to become more aspirational in the way that they approach their life and make life choices about everything from who I live with, where I live, where I work, who I purchase my services from and who I socialise with.



Fostering and stimulating the service provider market

Anne Bryce will be a speaker at IPAA 2015 (Sydney, October 14-15) for the skills for the future session on Market Stewardship.

The past 30 years have seen a shift in how public services are provided with a reluctance to have single providers of publicly-funded services.

There is significant evidence to suggest that contracting has worked well with simpler, transactional services, but with complex services the impact can sometimes be difficult to quantify. The UK Institute for Government has invested significant resources into investigating how to make public sector markets work and how best to professionalise government’s approach to commissioning to maximise the return.

The Market Stewardship session will explore the UK Institute for Government’s findings on how the public sector can manage markets to ensure long term outcomes.

IPAA 2015’s two-day program re-imagines how the public sector might look as a result of Federation reform and explores the skills those working in, and with the public sector, will need in this changing environment.

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