Victoria’s peak social advocacy body is calling for an urgent overhaul of how NDIS markets are managed so people with disabilities don’t miss out.
The NDIS is designed to give people with disabilities “choice and control” over what services they access and how their care is managed.
But VCOSS is warning a lack of high-quality services, especially in some regional areas or for people needing more complex care, means this choice is becoming an illusion.
“If people can only access one suitable provider, or if none exist in their area, then that’s no choice at all,” Victorian Council of Social Service CEO Emma King said.
“The NDIA must move on from its ‘hands off’ approach to market oversight in favour of active market stewardship.”
The VCOSS-backed model of active stewardship would involve the NDIA and the Federal Government taking all necessary steps to ensure NDIS markets actually do their job and the NDIS meets its stated objectives for people with disability.
“The NDIA should go back to its roots and focus on making sure people with disability have the support they need to live a great life,” according to Ms King.
“This will require more active market intervention.”
“Free markets don’t have a great track record of getting services to the people who need them most,” Ms King said.
Economists call any market with a low number of buyers and sellers a “thin market”. In the NDIS, this occurs when there is a lack of appropriate services to meet the needs of participants.
As the market steward, the NDIA has responsibility to develop a funding model for the continued provision of disability services in areas of thin markets.
“This includes acknowledging the real costs disability organisations face when delivering services, and paying them accordingly,’ Ms King said.
“Of acute concern are travel costs facing organisations in regional and rural Victoria.”
VCOSS is also calling on:
- THE NDIA to trial alternative models, such as capital grants or seed funding, to encourage service providers to enter thin markets, and
- THE FEDERAL Government to re-invest the promised NDIS budget surplus and remove the organisation’s staffing cap, so it has the people and resources required to be a fierce and effective market steward.
These recommendations have been formed in consultation with VCOSS members, which include large charities, peak organisations, small community services, and disability advocacy groups.