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Lack of Lived Experience the Stand-out Feature

The Final Report of the Joint Standing Committee into the NDIS on the disability workforce has been released and it’s an extremely impressive document that’s well worth a read – even if you only cover the Executive Summary. It includes several comments and insights relating to the NDIS National Workforce Plan 2021- 2025 (Department of Social Services, June 2021), overall noting that, “outside of training measures, working conditions remained largely unaddressed.” Practical measures to improve workforce conditions (like staff turnover rates of between 17-25%) and actually supporting the employment of people with disabilities were noticeably absent from the Workforce Plan – along with the kind of specific measurable outcomes that you’d usually expect to get in an Action Plan. Importantly, the Report also raised concerns that disability support workers themselves were not consulted in the development of the Disability Support Worker (DSW) Cost model. This lack of ‘lived experience’ consultation continues to be the stand-out feature of the NDIA’s implementation of the Scheme – whether it’s a lack consultation with people with disabilities, support workers, carers, practitioners or providers. This absence of genuine frontline consultation results in poor decisions that impact vulnerable people every day. It is the DSW cost model that determines the NDIA’s pricing, which in turn is really driving the pauperisation of the sector. The price guide is completely undermining the sector’s ability to innovate, to deliver quality services, to invest in staff training, let alone attract the 83,000 additional full time workers needed in the current diabolical operating environment. The link between market stewardship and the DSW cost model lies at the heart of this issue. It is one of the foundational flaws of the current Scheme. The Committee notes that their earlier recommendation (Dec 2020) “for a clarification of Commonwealth responsibilities for NDIS market stewardship has not yet been provided.” As a marketer with both marketing and economics qualifications, there is little evidence of market stewardship on the part of the NDIA. The supply side of this market is in crisis and, if allowed to continue along the current path, the end result will be a distinct lack of quality services for people with disabilities (a total contradiction of the original intent of the NDIS.) The underlying systemic issues driving this crisis are not going away anytime soon. The Committee calls for “ambitious action” and provides eight excellent recommendations to get the Scheme back on track. They offer a clear pathway for addressing foundational flaws in the Scheme’s implementation. Throwing out the existing DSW cost model would be a great starting point. Viable career pathways, professional development and training and the recruitment of high quality talent depend on it. #disability #ndis #workforcedevelopment #workplaceculture

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