7,000 NDIA jobs to be outsourced

The government has announced plans for a much slimmer NDIA: around 7,000 NDIA staffing positions will be outsourced to the not for profit sector and NDIA offices will be combined with Centrelink.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (the NDIA) is the new government agency set up to manage the roll out of the NDIS. The NDIA will replace most existing state and territory government disability agencies and departments.

The NDIA will not provide services directly to people with disability, but instead will manage all the NDIS funding and eligibility decisions. The Agency has a central role in the NDIS – to decide whether people are eligible, decide how much funding they should receive and to pay out this money for participants to purchase their services.

As the plans for the national roll out of the NDIS were being finalized, there have also been big changes in how the NDIA will look.


7,000 NDIA positions to be outsourced

The Productivity Commission allocated $850 million for the NDIA for its operating costs – $300 million of this was for the NDIA’s staff and offices to work with participants, and $550 million was to employ Local Area Coordinators.[1]

The NDIA has previously stated that its staffing levels would be over 10,000 staff in 2019.[2] The Assistant Minister for Social Services (Sen the Hon Mitch Fifield) has announced that the NDIA’s size will be dramatically cut back and its functions outsourced to the not for profit and for profit sector. The Minister has stated that the NDIA’s target staffing level will be “below 3,000”, down from the original estimate of above 10,000.[3]

What are the 7,000 staffing positions that are going to be outsourced? Many of these positions will be the NDIA’s Local Area Coordination (LAC) services. The LAC services are designed to connect people with disability to services in their local communities as well as to improve the way mainstream services (e.g. education and health) support people with disability.

The NDIA will be running tender rounds to outsource its LAC functions, with an estimated budget of up to $550 million per annum going to the sector. The NDIA’s National Office will be responsible for running these approaches to market and then LAC contracts will be managed through the NDIA’s local network of offices across the country.

The NDIA has not made any announcements about whether any of its ‘planning and assessment’ staff will be outsourced.

The outsourcing of 7,000 positions—at a value of up to $550 million per annum—is an enormous development for the sector.

Many in the sector believe that outsourcing LACs will allow the positions to be better connected to their communities and more effective at making communities inclusive for people with disability.

The two biggest concerns with the outsourcing of LACs will be capacity and conflicts of interest.

  • Capacity: The sector is already stretched to capacity with the NDIS workforce more than doubling by 2019, requiring an additional 90,000 employees to meet the demand created by the NDIS.[4] Added to this will now be an additional 7,000 staff which will stretch an already thin workforce.

  • Conflicts of interest: Some advocates ask how the participant and their family know they are getting impartial advice from a LAC when the LAC is employed by an organization that is also providing services. Won’t the organization have an incentive to simply refer the person to their own organization to get support? For this reason, the Productivity Commission said that LACs cannot be employed by an organization that is also providing services to a participant. This will be a critical decision point for the NDIA to make before it releases the LAC tender documents.

There is not a timeline available for when the LAC tender round will begin, sign up for the DSC newsletter to ensure you hear the news on new NDIA tenders when they are available.


NDIA to co-locate with Centrelink

The government has also announced that the NDIA will not have stand alone offices, but instead will be co-located with Centrelink (the Department of Human Services).[5]

The Productivity Commission’s original plan for the NDIS was to have around 180 offices around Australia, with the NDIA working out of Centrelink offices in very remote locations such as the Tiwi Islands.[6]

Currently the NDIA’s offices are mostly stand-alone offices, with some offices co-located such as the Colac Office (Victoria) co-located with the Department of Human Services (Centrelink and Medicare).

The decision to co-locate with Centrelink will be more achievable now that the 7,000 jobs will be outsourced from the NDIA, reduce the NDIA’s from over 10,000 staff to under 3,000 staff (see above).



[1] Productivity Commission (2011) Disability Care and Support, p776.

[2] National Disability Insurance Agency (2014), A Review of the Capabilities of the National Disability Insurance Agency, p 9.

[3] Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield (2015), Senate Question without notice 18 August 2015. http://mitchfifield.dss.gov.au/transcripts/question-without-notice

[4] NDIA (2015), Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy, p19. http://www.ndis.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/NDIS%20Integrated%20Market%20Sector%20and%20Workforce%20Strategy%20June%202015_0.pdf

[5] Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield (2015), Senate Question without notice 18 August 2015. http://mitchfifield.dss.gov.au/transcripts/question-without-notice

[6] Productivity Commission (2011) Disability Care and Support, p927