In WA the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) is backing the State Government to run a localised NDIS. “This would be at lower cost, more efficient and achieve better outcomes for users,” said CCI chief executive, Deidre Willmott. In Western Australia both NDIS and state-run trials are in place. The government is half-way through the two year trials that began in July 2014.
The CCI has published a report comparing service delivery and outcomes of Western Australia’s NDIS My Way model with the NDIA model. According to Willmott, the NDIS My Way model was a superior system. “It achieves better outcomes for Western Australians with disability by ensuring that local decisions reflect local circumstances.”
She added that the CCI supports the State Government’s push to deliver disability services using the NDIS My Way system.
Prior to the start of the NDIS trials across Australia, the WA Government raised concerns that Western Australians with disability may not be better off under a national model of governance for implementing the NDIS reforms in WA. These concerns arose because:
- Many of the key reforms embodied in the NDIS are not new or innovative to WA;
- The WA Government already has a strong track record of achieving better outcomes for people with disability when compared to other jurisdictions; and
- The positive outcomes that Western Australians with disability have been able to achieve are underpinned by the strong partnership between the WA Disability Services Commission (DSC), the WA not-for-profit sector, and other WA Government Agencies that provide mainstream disability services.
Without pre-empting the outcomes of the trial process, CCI considers that a federated model – where DSC administers the implementation of the NDIS reforms in WA – will deliver the most beneficial outcomes for Western Australians with disability and the WA disability services sector. This recommendation is based on consultations with CCI’s members in the disability sector and the evidence currently available from the trial sites.
Much of the key infrastructure, resources and processes needed to implement these reforms already well-established in the state. These include individual funding principles and procedures. As a proportion of total recurrent expenditure on specialist disability services of all State and Territory Governments and the Commonwealth Government, Western Australia’s current proportion of 3.7 per cent is much lower than the national average of 6.6 per cent. In addition, the DSC Lower South West operating expense ratio is currently lower than the NDIA’s operating expense ratio.
In pricing the principal, the pricing models in the NDIA and My Way trials differ quite substantially. The NDIA trial operates with a fixed price model while the My Way trial operates with a flexible price range. CCI considers it important to identify both the costs and benefits of all pricing models as the Commonwealth and WA Governments explore pricing arrangements during the transition period. CCI considers the capacity for My Way co-ordinators to design more individual packages for people with disability provides greater opportunity for them to achieve outcomes in line with their goals and aspirations at no extra cost to government. In this way, a price range system will enhance the sustainability of outcomes in the My Way trial.
When it comes to funding arrangements for disability service providers there are substantial differences between the NDIA and My Way trials. In the NDIA trial public funding is provided in arrears of service delivery. In the My Way trial, public funding is provided in advance. The funding arrangements in the NDIA trial have demonstrated that in the long run viability of disability service providers will require that they build capacity now to increase and retain a level of cash flow that is sufficient to meet their day-to-day operating costs and to manage bad debts. According to the NDS May 2014 Business Confidence Survey, only 33 per cent of disability service providers in the sector meet recommended cash flow standards, which is three months or more of spending reserves. If disability service providers do not build their capacity to meet required cash flow standards now, then there is considerable risk that they will fail under the NDIA funding arrangements where payments are made in arrears of service delivery.
In the My Way trial, the DSC provides public funding to service providers in advance of service delivery on a quarterly basis. In addition, any contractual arrangements between service providers and DSC that were established prior to the introduction of the NDIS have been maintained. Under these funding arrangements, constraints on cash flow in the My Way trial have not been quite so acute as the market has opened up to increased levels of competition, and in turn, has provided greater levels of certainty for the sector. CCI considers that funding arrangements where payments are made in advance of service delivery is preferable, at least in the transition to a more competitive operating environment under the NDIS. Funding in advance of service delivery will be particularly important in WA, where disability services are predominantly delivered by not-for-profit disability service providers. In advance funding arrangements, which allow not-for-profit disability service providers to maintain their previous budgetary systems without undue focus on the management of bad debts, will ensure that the NDIS reforms can be implemented with the least disruption to a substantial proportion of the WA disability services sector. This will be important to ensure that a continuous stream of valuable and diverse disability services can be delivered as the disability sector adjusts to the NDIS self-directed funding model.
To view more on the report visit: www.docs/default-source/advocacy/national-disability-insurance-scheme.pdf?