If the Australia disability sector were a place in time, it would currently be in the midst of a storm. Strong currents are blowing in multiple directions; there is chaos, confusion and thunder breaking the sky apart. Yet, whilst storms may be terrifying, they are often necessary. The rainfall they produce allows for plants to grow, the wind removes pollution from the air and the survivors are stronger than they were before.
Our planet has learnt to survive storms, now it’s time for our disability sector to learn as well.
DSC has a model for success in the NDIS environment: Learn. Engage. Adapt. For the first time this year, we have decided to award disability providers who have excelled in each of these three areas.
First up, the Learn Award for Outstanding NDIS Learning.
Organisational learning is the key to NDIS success. Providers need to take the time to learn everything they can about NDIS and the changing market. Without a strong knowledge base, they will not be able to develop creative responses to the challenges to come.
We found the winner for this category high up north in Darwin.
TeamHEALTH and the CREW Training
The winner of the 2017 Learn Award is TeamHEALTH for the CREW Training.
CREW is a model that defines the different levels of training and NDIS competency needed for particular staff in the organisation. We were blown away when we first saw it. Nowhere else throughout the country had we encountered such a strategic and targeted education plan that included all staff in the organisation. TeamHEALTH has generously agreed to share it.
Daisy Clingan, the Business Transition Manager who invented CREW, said her biggest fear is that a staff member from any department would be asked an NDIS question and be unable to answer it. Staff are the organisation’s best ambassador. Being unable to answer a question would be a failure for the organisation’s mission to support customers and would likely result in a deterioration of trust.
She credits the programs success on the strong organisational investment from TeamHEALTH. Every staff member gave up hours of their time for training and learning. Daisy was fully supported in her creative approach and with her skillful acronym development.
Operating in Northern Territory has additional challenges to the ones faced by all NDIS providers. The Aboriginal communities there have been watching all manner of white man systems come and go since the arrival of the First Fleet. You can forgive them for not being too excited about the NDIS.
In such an environment, building trust is essential to success. In some communities, at the time of transition, TeamHEALTH will be the only registered NDIS service provider. Their biggest fear with the NDIS is not, therefore, that another provider will steal their customers. Instead, it is that if they fail, these communities will once again miss out on essential services.
Perhaps this is why Daisy is stoic in the face of the NDIS storm. She tells me that regardless of how we feel about the new system, or how many problems we are likely to face, for TeamHEALTH, it has to be a question of how they make it work, not if they can. It is perhaps no wonder, therefore, that they have responded so ingeniously to the challenge of organisational learning. They have no choice but to get it right.
“If you don’t like storms,” Daisy tells me. “Do not come to Darwin.”