Collaboration in crisis
NDIS raises questions

Disability service providers in WA have worked together to find solutions for some tricky situations. They have been quietly collaborative, responsive, cooperative.

While they have competed for grants, projects, or block funding, they have nearly always stepped in and stepped up as a team when a person with disability was at immediate risk. This collaboration and partnering approach amongst predominantly not for profit organisations successfully supported individuals and families in urgent and critical need of accommodation, respite or personal supports. It has helped to safeguarded individuals at risk of harm, homeless or family breakdown. Leaders in provider organisations have privately advocated for those without a voice adopted a ‘whatever it takes’ approach.

As competition increases a loss of collaboration between market providers could see government cast as a safety net provider of last resort. Organisations will be tightly managing service offerings and their reputation. They are already closely managing their finances and it’s conceivable they may also limit their general disclose in order to protect their market positon, their value proposition and their customer base.Without good will and collective intent, person centred cooperative problem-solving will be challenging. Where there is no certainty that a service will be selected for purchase, could this act as a disincentive to cooperation?

Mission-based and charitable organisations will no doubt continue to operate in the way they always have and rally to support the most vulnerable, but in a system supposed to build on entitlement and choice and control, the market realities of the NDIS may limit access, choice and control for those most at risk of falling through the gaps.

  • Will vulnerable people be at any greater risk as a result?
  • Is it possible that the disability sector is at risk of becoming a disability industry where values-based decision making gives way to hard commercial realities?  
  • Is it realistic to expect that informal round-table approaches to problem solving will continue or does it need to be formalised into the future?
  • What is the role of advocates in critical response?
  • Would it benefit services providers to consider their common ground now and reach agreements on the circumstances in which they can leave commercial concerns at the door and continue to do whatever it takes when it is needed most?
  • What kind of mechanisms are required to develop and agree this common ground?
  • Who will lead?