‘Investment in community education, broad-based interventions and capacity building sustains and strengthens informal support and promotes the social and economic inclusion of people with disability’
NDIA ILC Framework, July 2015
When the NDIS was being drawn up, the Productivity Commission identified that not all supports can be provided on a one to one basis. Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) is a newly named program for a whole suite of non individualised activities that will be funded by the NDIA.
Within the ILC, the Productivity Commission estimated $550 million a year would be required in Local Area Coordination and another $200 million for ‘capacity building’. So ILC funding is already in the NDIS overall budget, but what will those supports be? Where will the money go?
There are around 900,000 people with disability who do not meet the eligibility criteria for the NDIS. The ILC’s aims will include providing at least some support to this group and to save money by improving the access of all people with disability to mainstream services. It is also a grab bag of services that are vital but cannot be individually funded; from Indigenous supports to peer led early intervention for parents, to information about living with different types of disability.
In the recently released ‘Framework for Information, Linkages and Capacity Building’, the NDIA identified five streams of ILC services they are likely to fund. Most of the streams contain services that are reasonably well described by the stream name. Some examples of the first four streams are:
Stream 1: Information, Linkages and Referrals
Web-based, telephone and face-to-face information and referral
Peer support and information sharing
Stream 2: Capacity building for mainstream services
Enhancing inclusiveness of people with disability
Building the capacity of mainstream and universal providers
Stream 3: Community awareness and capacity building
Public campaigns to improve disability awareness
Creating personal networks that connect people with disability
Stream 4: Individual capacity building
Programmes and counselling for carers
Diagnosis-specific peer support groups.
Stream 5, Local Area Coordination (LAC), is a more difficult creature to grasp and deliver. LAC is a concept that has grown out of WA and has since become popular in Queensland, the UK and now with the NDIA:` ‘LAC is the development of relationships between the NDIS, people with disability, their families and carers, and the local community (including informal networks, community groups, disability and mainstream services)… building the capacity of other community services to respond to the needs of people with disability and carers and to develop natural networks of support around people with disability… with formal services and funding as the last, not the first, response.’
So a key goal of LAC is supporting mainstream inclusion and informal supports. Fabulous!
But how is it going so far? Local Area Coordinators are mostly NDIA staff in the trial sites, and in a couple of places LAC has been subcontracted to one of the big non profits. What we have been hearing is that LAC has not been the star ‘inclusion’ performer. Perhaps because the focus of effort has been on planning and supporting NDIS individual participants, community development seems to be suffering. So far LAC has looked more like case management: highly individualised with most of the attention on current participants and little focus on mainstream inclusion. Not off to a great start.
To be successful, LAC requires the voluntary involvement and commitment to inclusion by a huge range of local players. LAC needs to be built on local knowledge, local goodwill and local relationships. It is not the natural domain of large national organisations and has never been a strong suit of government or quasi government bodies. LAC requires a lot of community development skill and ongoing engagement in local networks.
Everyone is keen to see LAC work and it appears the NDIA is preparing to outsource much of the ILC and LAC functions. The concern becomes how will the outsourcing ensure national consistency while developing highly localised approaches?
In this context, DSC is currently partnering with the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the University of Melbourne to independently research and articulate the evidence base of factors that support local inclusion for people with disability in mainstream services.
DSC will also conduct ILC workshops in October in both Melbourne and Sydney. The workshops will explore the intent of ILC, what works and where the funding is most likely to go. We hope to see you there.