NDIS: Year in Review & Predictions for 2016

Predictions for 2016: A year of delivering on plans.

2016 will be the year that tests whether the NDIS can be delivered at the scale that governments have currently promised.

This is for two reasons. First, the ramp up of participants in 2016 will be unlike anything we have seen before during the trial period, and indeed in social policy initiatives from the past three decades. Second, the NDIA’s plans and frameworks developed throughout 2014 and 2015 will be put to the test of whether they actually deliver results for people with disability.

 

Managing the ramp up

In just 26 weeks between July and December next year, 25,000 participants will join the scheme in NSW, while around 18,000 participants will come through in Victoria. This is in addition to the existing trial sites across Australia.

2016 will be the year that many providers will see 100% of their disability services income transition into the NDIS. This is a much bigger challenge than the trial sites where there was a long three-year transition in the trial sites. Providers will have to become experts in the NDIS and adapt their business models rapidly throughout 2016.

 

Outsourcing NDIA services

LAC services have shaped up to be one of the most important contracts under the NDIS. LAC services (not the NDIA) will be assisting the majority of participants through the eligibility process, developing goals and plans and helping participants to implementation plans. They will also be assisting all people not eligible for the NDIS, along with their families are carers.

The Victorian LAC services tender closed in mid-December 2015, with an announcement expected in February 2016. This is a radical change to the way participants will experience the NDIS, as LAC services replace the NDIA as the key point of contact for most participants.

2016 will also be a time for providers to work out how they interact with LAC services. The role and culture of LAC services will be developed in 2016, including how they help participants connect with the most suitable services, assist providers to better meet the needs of participants and identify and action market gaps.

 

(Finally) developing new housing

After much anticipation, 2016 looks to be the year that the NDIA will begin committing money to new specialist housing for people with disability.

2016 will be the year to see whether new housing models are going to be available for people with disability. Whether providers and housing organisations can partner together to create new options that give people with disability with integrated services that are connected to the community.

 

Grant funded Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Services

The NDIA will be running a grant round in 2016 to fund ILC services. These services will be providing non-individualised parts of the NDIS. These services could be very innovative approaches to empower people with disability with the information and capabilities they need to live more independently.

2016 is the test of whether the NDIS can give people with disability the support they need – especially if they are not eligible for the NDIS. The test will be whether ILC services are more of the same without genuine empowerment for people with disability, or whether new and effective ideas will be able to get up – including services by people with disability for people with disability.

 

Reflections on 2015: A year of developing plans

2015 has been a big year of developing policies and plans, but only some of these have been finalised.

There have been plans released by the NDIA and governments on:

 

This work is laying the foundation for the enormous expansion of the NDIS that begins in 2016. We have learnt three lessons from the way the NDIS is developing its overarching policies:

  1. Getting governments to agree on how the NDIS should look is difficult and takes longer than everyone anticipates. Governments had committed to announcing the full scheme roll out plans at the end of August 2015, yet Tasmania and South Australia plans were not finalized until December 2015 and there is still no plan for Queensland. Similarly, despite the Chair’s announcement that a housing policy would be released in 2014, there is still no comprehensive NDIS housing policy.
  2. The NDIA is investing time and energy to co-design some policies with the community. There have been extensive public consultations on some policies where people with disability, their families, carers, service providers and advocacy groups have been able to shape the NDIA’s plans. This is especially the case for quality and safeguards and the ILC policies.
  3. The NDIA is relying on the community (non-profit and for profit providers) to implement the NDIS. The NDIA decided to outsource 7,000 of the NDIA’s Local Area Coordination and planning jobs to the non-government sector. This demonstrates that the NDIA will not be a behemoth, but rather a commissioner of services from the community. The success of the NDIS won’t rely on creating a huge new bureaucracy, but rather on how well the NDIA can contract Local Area Coordination services—as well as Information, Linkages and Capacity Building—from the community.