Report reveals “increasingly precarious and frustrated” disability sector

Posted 5 years ago by Nicole Pope
54 percent of providers say they would have to reduce the quality of their services to meet current prices [Source: Shutterstock[
54 percent of providers say they would have to reduce the quality of their services to meet current prices [Source: Shutterstock[

A report prepared from the National Disability Services’ (NDS) Annual Market Survey on the current state of the disability sector has revealed providers are “increasingly precarious and frustrated with the nature of the reform process.”

How is the disability sector faring: A report from National Disability Services’ Annual Market Survey, surveyed 626 disability service providers of which 69 percent revealed they had received requests for services they were simply unable to provide.

Compared to previous years, service providers are operating at a loss with mergers becoming a growing feature of the sector since the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) signalling low levels of collaboration within the sector.

As a result, 54 percent of providers say they would have to reduce the quality of their services to meet current prices.

Among the findings, it is recommended to increase pricing flexibility, revisit where system pricing decisions can be made and release accurate and timely supply and demand information to providers.

Overwhelmingly, 73 percent of providers who were surveyed feel that the current NDIS systems are not working well, with significant challenges lying in pricing structures, administrative burden and inconsistency from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

It also highlights challenges within the operating system with 13 percent of responding providers discussing closing their doors in the past 12 months.

Chief Executive Officer of NDS David Moody says despite these concerns, support amongst providers for the NDIS remains strong.

“The proportion of providers who believe the NDIA is working well with the sector is growing – up 7 percent from last year.

“These are encouraging signs that together we can fix current NDIS issues to ensure we have the best possible Scheme,” he says.

NDS is hoping the report will improve and inform the sector by leading the way to real and sustainable change to ensure that providers are able to deliver high-quality supports and services to NDIS participants across the country.

To do this, NDS made the following 12 recommendations based on the survey findings.

  1. Ensure the NDIS is fully-funded, now and for the future
  2. Establish service prices which will stimulate service growth and quality
  3. Implement market stewardship that responds to warning signals of market failure
  4. Ensure that NDIS processes are informed by the experience of disability and the disability sector
  5. In implementing the NDIS, ensure there is flexibility in systems and processes, that reflects national diversity
  6. Resolve complex scheme design problems
  7. Support sector development that ensures progress in the sector’s ability to provide the right services and supports sustainably
  8. Invest in quality and safeguarding
  9. Provide more open employment opportunities for people with disability
  10. Extend school-to-work support for people with disability
  11. Provide more jobs in supported employment for people with disability
  12. Renew the National Disability Strategy, with its focus on ensuring that mainstream services and communities are accessible to and inclusive of, all people with disability

Co-Research Director at the Centre for Social Impact, University of New South Wales (UNSW) Associate Professor Gemma Carey says she was most surprised about the low level of collaboration within the disability sector.

“We will be tracking this over time to see if it improves.”

The annual report was prepared by the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW, Gemma Carey and Helen Dickinson from the Public Service Research Group at UNSW, Megan Weier and Damon Alexander from Swinburne University and Eleanor Malbon and Gordon Duff from National Disability Services following data collection in October 2018.