Tina Dilegge
Noetic Group

Twenty per cent of Australians live with a disability – nearly half of whom live near or below the poverty line. However, individual support options are sparse and the needs of many of these people are unmet. To revolutionise the existing disability support system, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has promised to empower people with significant disability and carers through the freedom of choice over the support they need.

From September – December 2013, Noetic engaged people with a disability, carers and disability service providers to promote awareness of the NDIS. As part of our corporate social responsibility and commitment to stimulate discussion on the Scheme, we developed a survey and coordinated a roundtable event to discuss the NDIS and its implications. The event brought together people with a disability, carers, disability service providers, peak body and government representatives and other advocates for an interactive session that included presentations from Dr Chris Bourke MLA; Jan Kruger, Director of Imagine MORE; Paul Williams, former Chairman of Canberra Men’s Centre; Dee McGrath, CEO of Carers ACT; and Maureen Sheehan, Executive Coordinator of the ACT NDIS Taskforce.

To understand the current level of knowledge of the NDIS and identify how effectively information about the Scheme has been communicated, Noetic disseminated a survey to people with a disability, carers and disability services providers. The NDIS survey provided 123 respondents an opportunity to share their experience and opinion regarding the NDIS and its implications. Key findings from the survey were:

+         Strong support for the NDIS concept is prevalent – 73% of service providers and 78% of people with a disability and carers expressed support for what the Scheme seeks to achieve.

+         Understanding of the NDIS could be improved – 65% of service providers and 81% of people with a disability and carers said they have little to moderate understanding of the NDIS.

+         People with a disability and carers will exercise choice – 90.5% of people with disability and carers said they would consider changing service providers under the NDIS; 42% would use more than one provider (46% were unsure) under the NDIS.

+         Service providers will need to adapt their organisations – 94% of service providers said they would need to adapt their operating model; 53% said they would need external assistance to prepare.

The survey results demonstrate that there is strong support for the NDIS; however, people still feel they require more information on its goals and requirements, and more broadly, what options are available to them. While governments, peak bodies and other organisations have used the internet, social media, briefings and conferences to disseminate NDIS facts and updates, greater clarity is needed regarding the Scheme’s implications. It will be crucial for governments to capture and communicate lessons learnt from current NDIS launch sites to inform future preparation and planning for all involved.

The survey results also indicate that the desire to exercise choice will create a new market driven by consumer demand. This will lead to increased competition between service providers, including from the private sector. Consumers will expect diverse, high quality and innovative services, reaffirming the importance of client-focussed service delivery. The impact this will have on an organisation’s business model and service delivery approach cannot be understated. The question for disability service providers is profound: can they realign in time to respond to a new operating environment, or will a newly empowered customer base choose others to meet their needs?

Noetic will continue to support implementation of the Scheme through creating and sharing our knowledge of the Scheme’s impact and assisting service providers in the not-for-profit sector to respond and transition to this new operating environment.

To find out more about Noetic’s consultancy services call +61 2 6234 7777 or send an email to mail@noeticgroup.com.