The National Disability Insurance Scheme, or NDIS, is an initiative of the Australian government. It was established primarily to provide support to people with disability, their carers and service providers. The scheme is also designed to change the way funding for not-for-profit organisations is managed, by allocating funding directly to people with a disability.
By changing the way national funding is managed, people with a disability are given more freedom to control the support they receive. People with a disability benefit from greater community involvement, while being able to choose to support service providers of value. The NDIS also helps to encourage greater inclusion within the community for people with a disability, as well as supporting service providers to be part of the scheme.
Why is technology an important part of this?
With the establishment of the NDIS comes the need for not-for-profit organisations to adapt to a more open market environment. The national approach to managing this scheme has been developed with the vision of a competitive, yet self-sustaining market. Service providers are now competing against other organisations for business. In some cases, providers may realise a need to modify their service offering, in order to retain or draw more business.
This may include:
- A need for enhanced reporting — In the past, funding for disability support services was managed by the provider. Funding was allocated to the program or to the service given by the provider. With the support now being controlled by the individual, disability support providers need to apply new reporting formats for budgeting and planning. Reporting on individual program participants may also be required.
- The need to run efficiently — With more competition for services, disability support providers will need to consider ways to operate more efficiently. The role of these providers has now changed, with the onus on their own management to meet individual demands. The scheme will see an increase in funding within the disability system, however providers will need to adapt a more flexible approach to the way they deliver programs and services. Providers will need to consider how to factor in additional costs such as marketing and software upgrades, which they may not have previously needed.
- The need to attract new participants — The ability to allocate funding received from the government is no longer the focus under the NDIS. Disability service providers will need to learn or adapt how they market their services. Where funding was previously managed across multiple disability support programs or participants, providers will now need to focus on much more individual prospects.
How are organisations approaching this?
There is a huge variance in the way organisations are preparing for and managing these changes. Some organisations have been very proactive in planning for these changes, while others are only now considering how they will address some key system changes. The NDIS has been rolled out in stages, so some organisations have been able to watch the program implementation in other states. For example, in Queensland, the current model will transition to the NDIS over a 3-year period (beginning in 2016).
With the move to the NDIS model, more organisations have needed to assess their requirements for software and technology. In some cases, new technology or an ICT (information and communication technologies) strategy may be required.
- Developing a new ICT strategy aligned with the NDIS — Ultimately, such a major change to the disability support program will require a review of current ICT strategies. This may require an evaluation of existing software and the capability of current systems to handle new reporting. More flexible programming may be more suited to the requirements of the future participant program implementation.
- Selecting software that is aligned with new requirements — As previously touched on in this article, the ability to deliver enhanced reports will be necessary under the NDIS. There are some specific software developers who are currently in the process of adapting and customising software programs towards NDIS requirements.
Related: ICT in the not-for-profit sector
As the NDIS is implemented nationally, not-for-profit organisations will realise a need to review current technological and business operations. Under the NDIS, there will be a significant increase in funding available for disability support services. This is of particular benefit to disability support providers who can deliver up-to-date and efficient services. In doing so, there are key changes to budgeting and operations ahead for disability support providers.
Do you need help creating a new ICT strategy that aligns with NDIS? Contact us to learn how R & G Technologes can help you organisation.