Boosting the Local Care Workforce Program: A Deeper Look

Since the Transition Assistance Funding became available, we've been approached by more than 60 organisations looking for support with the grant submission. We need to let you know and also say sorry, DSC cannot assist with the application (but we would be delighted to support when you hear that your application has been successful).

We also wanted to take this opportunity to overview the package of support that includes these grants, new resources and a new website focussed on supporting Providers to transition to NDIS. This has all been launched under the banner 'Boosting the Local Care Workforce'
 

Transition Assistance Funding Grants

The new ‘Transition Assistance Funding’ is designed to assist Providers, and organisations thinking about becoming Providers, to grow into the NDIS market. A partnership between Department of Social Services (DSS) and Ernest & Young, the funding aims to support organisations to:

  1. attract, retain and optimise their workforce

  2. improve awareness of the opportunities and ability to enter/expand and collaborate in the disability sector

  3. develop skills and capabilities required to effectively operate in a consumer driven disability market.
     

Priority areas for the grants are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander service providers, providers delivering to remote locations and/or other areas where there are NDIS service gaps, and what the Agency calls 'thin markets' i.e. a risk of market failure or lack of choice for Participants. There is a list of non-disability sector organisations that are encouraged to apply including individual advocacy organisations, aged care providers and housing/homelessness organisations (we believe DSS sees a supply problem in the NDIS market and they are looking at adjacent sectors to try and alleviate it).

Substantive details about what activities might be eligible are still quite thin on the ground, but between $5000 and $20,000 funding for ‘tailored professional services' is available, including business advice.  Our interpretation of this is that DSS is looking at these grants to fund strategic planning, business cases, workforce planning and readiness plans rather than implementation. For instance, it seems that paying a consultant to develop a business case on whether you should expand into the allied health market will be eligible, but employing a handful OTs to get the service started won’t.

The grant application process starts with a Readiness Assessment, with questions covering five key domains:

  • Financial Sustainability (cash flow, working capital, invoicing systems and financial processes)

  • Organisational Strategy (strategic planning and business planning, leader skillsets and risk management)

  • Governance (Board skillsets and policies & procedures)

  • People and Capability (workforce policies & procedures and development opportunities)

  • Performance Measurement (collection and use of market information) 


Applicants must then complete an application form and submit by 26 April 2019, with successful applicants notified by end of June. We are expecting these grants to be hotly contested. Full guidelines are here , with the pre-application Readiness Assessment here

 

Regional Coordinators

Also mentioned in the announcement and on the new DSS website are the new roles of Regional Coordinators. These roles are funded by another stream of the DSS funding and are located around Australia to support organisations to grow in the NDIS market. Details are scarce on what these roles involve though the BLCW website describes their roles as “localised support, gathering intelligence on local issues, facilitating workshops and connecting stakeholders with complementary programs and initiatives in the disability and aged care sectors” listed here. There seems to be a focus on allied health service supply included in these roles, which we know is a problem across the country. You need to go through the 'Contact Us' part of the website to reach these Regional Coordinators - it seems they are live, ready and on the ground but a full list has yet to be published.

 

Boosting the Local Care Workforce website

A new website has been launched - https://blcw.dss.gov.au/ - and it’s good! It is aimed at Providers and prospective Providers and has features like a Demand Map, links to the new Quality & Safeguarding information and clearer information about registration requirements. We’re unsure it prepares prospective Providers for the reality of day-to-day life in the NDIS, and some of the links (especially in the Train Your Workforce section) are the same things we’ve seen before, but overall it’s a good step forward in delivery method and content.


Overall, these new announcements and resources are pleasantly surprising. The next steps if you are interested in up to $20,000 from the Transition Assistance fund are to complete the Readiness Assessment, then the Application Form, then cross your fingers!