The Auscare Support Head Office Team gathered in Bowral last month to reflect on the year that is coming to a close and to plan for the year ahead.
The day featured a number of presentations and workshops presented and facilitated by members of our team.
The day started with a presentation from our CEO, Max King. Max reiterated the importance of the Auscare Support Mission statement: “To Empower Great Futures for our Clients and their Families.” This is the driving force behind what we do each and every day. It is the inspiration behind the high service standards we set to assist people to achieve their goals and to maximise their NDIS funding.
To complement this Mission Statement, a client charter has been developed, centred around Integrity, Transparency and Openness, three key elements that are ingrained in our team when working with our clients, colleagues and other service providers.
Max provided an overview of some of the milestones Auscare Support has achieved over the past year, including:
• The launch of our new services, Budget Builder & Budget Builder Plus;
• An expansion of the geographical areas where we have a local Support Coordinator, including South East QLD, the Hunter Region, Central Coast, the ACT & Victoria; and
• A new user-friendly and content-rich website, due to launch in June.
Future plans include increased growth across all existing service areas and the launch of several new and exciting services later this year and in 2022.
Max also encouraged everyone to consider investing one day per month into a Personal Interest Project (PIP). The project could focus on anything a team member was passionate in developing for the benefit of the organisation or to our clients. This could be a new service or program, support of an existing community group, or any other innovative initiatives. Any staff member who undertakes to work on a PIP would have one working day per month to work on the project and would provide progress reports on a monthly basis.
The PIP initiative is a demonstration of Auscare Support’s commitment to becoming a DDO (A Deliberately Developmental Organisation), that invests in its team to grow both personally and professionally.
Further, David Gertler from our Finance Team gave a presentation on training and encouraged all staff to engage in ongoing professional development on topics of interest to them that would also provide an opportunity for further personal and professional growth.
Both the PIP project and ongoing training were received very enthusiastically by the team and everyone was very excited about the support and commitment Auscare Support is offering to its team.
Margie Tully, our CFO, led a presentation and group session on the topic of risk management. This was an important topic to address both in terms of Auscare as an organisation but also our clients and all other stakeholders.
It is crucial that all risks are identified and action plans put in place for the prosperity of the business to ensure that we deliver services to our clients consistently and in line with all legislative and industry guidelines.
The third session presented by Marketing Manager, Joseph Lyons, focused on the external environment and provided a participant and provider overview as well as some insights into the Disability Royal Commission, temporary measures introduced by the NDIS during COVID, the Tune Report (a review of the current NDIS legislation) and an update from Martin Hoffman, the CEO of the NDIS. Some highlights include:
Participant & Provider Overview
• 432,649 accessing the Scheme
• 9,560 children receiving support via ECEI
• 212,504 being supported for the first time
• About 4 in 10 Participants receive Support Coordination
• Approx 34% of Participants are Plan-Managed
• There are approx. 20,000 registered service providers
• Nationally, 70% of NDIS supports were utilised by participants, meaning that 30% of funding went unspent.
The Disability Royal Commission
The Disability Royal Commission that began in 2019 to investigate violence, neglect, abuse, and exploitation of people with a disability is ongoing with a final report to be submitted to the Australian Government by 29 April 2022.
The Royal Commission is supported by all of the Auscare Support team and we all look forward to the findings and the implementation of positive change.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDIS introduced a number of temporary measures to assist participants, including priority to receive COVID-19 vaccine, plans extended by 12 months, increased flexibility within budgets, flexibility to purchase low-cost Assistive Technology and to have Support Coordination claimable from the Core budget.
On 25th Feb, the NDIS announced that participants would no longer be able to use their core funding to top up or start Support Coordination from 28th Feb, giving participants and providers just a few days notice!
This was ultimately extended until 31st March after backlash from participants, families, and advocacy groups. This sudden change affected many participants who were accessing Support Coordination from their Core funding to link with services, housing, reviews, and more.
Although the temporary measures were supported by the Auscare Support team, the swift withdrawal of Support Coordination from funding from Core Supports budgets showed a lack of consultation from the NDIA and had a very negative impact on many participants.
The Tune Review
The Tune Review, a review of the NDIS Act, has offered people with disability, their families, carers, advocates, and providers an opportunity to share their experiences through workshops, submissions, and online surveys.
The feedback has identified that the NDIS is too complex and difficult to navigate, the NDIA does not understand the challenges people with disability face, governments need to address outstanding policy issues and communicate information in a way that is easier to understand.
In 2020, the former NDIS Minister Stuart Robert announced the rollout of independent assessments to determine the eligibility for the NDIS and the amount of funding they receive.
These new assessments will be conducted by a contracted assessor replacing the previous system where participants would acquire reports from therapists of their choosing.
The second pilot commenced in October 2020 with the new Independent Assessments to replace the existing system later this year.
There has been a lot of feedback from disability service providers and advocacy groups stating that the individual assessments go against the individualised nature of the NDIS and may result in people not accessing the Scheme. Close consultation is required with the new NDIS Minister, Linda Reynolds.
The second half of the planning day focused on how Auscare Support could continue to grow and to support our growing number of clients with both existing and new services. The team worked in groups and everyone provided input and provided an opportunity for discussion.
Another session, facilitated by Jo McIntyre, one of our Support Coordinator Coaches focused on an upcoming webinar that is being run by DSC, the leading training and consulting organisation in the sector. The DSC is inviting feedback on where participants and providers want to see the NDIS evolve.
This was another excellent session where everyone voiced their views. All of these points will be put forward to DSC prior to the webinar to add to their list of items to discuss. If you would like to contribute, please click here.
To conclude, Auscare Support continues to grow in a very complex external environment.
We are committed to ensuring that our clients continue to receive the high-level service they are accustomed to and to explore any service gaps where Auscare Support can assist clients with in the future. The commitment to the PIP projects and to ongoing professional development is a demonstration of how highly valued our team members are and how investment in our team will result in the delivery of excellent service to our clients.