The Observatory

VisAbility and the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Dr Clare Allen

It won’t all happen on Day 1 and we don’t expect the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to work perfectly at the start, yet one thing we do know is that being NDIS ready is critical to ensure we are prepared to do business differently.

The Background

Dr Clare Allen with Guide Dog puppies-in-training Goldie (left) and Zephyr (right) outside VisAbility’s headquarters in Western Australia.

A two year launch of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) model will commence in the Perth Hills area on 1 July 2014. Incremental roll out of the NDIA model will take place over the two year launch period. The State Government model, NDIS My Way, will be progressively implemented in the Lower South West region and Cockburn Kwinana area governments from 1 July 2014 in the Lower South West and from 1 July 2015 in Cockburn Kwinana.

Approximately 8,400 eligible participants in WA will benefit over the launch period.

Getting Prepared

In July 2013, VisAbility commenced a comprehensive strategic review of services coupled with extensive consultation with staff, stakeholders and consumers, our first step in understanding our consumer in the new NDIS environment. What’s working and what can we offer new or value-add elements to our services and supports were key elements to our consultation, preparing the way for change in establishing services that are timely, responsive and flexible in meeting demand.

As a result, we have undergone a significant streamlining of services, reviewed our workforce skills and capabilities and established new flexible work practices. We have established a Gateway Centre, to centralise our client contact, referrals and administration processes. Gateway will improve efficiencies in our administrative processes so that we spend less time and money on overheads and more on delivery of services and supports. The appointment of a dedicated Project Coordinator—Disability Reform further demonstrates our commitment and preparedness that will support a new client services structure that is consumer-centred and adaptable to demand and change. We have developed a consumer communication strategy, and have directly communicated with all our clients within the launch sites, offering assistance and support in getting prepared.

Equally, we have undertaken detailed analysis in regard to our financial management processes and understanding the costs of delivering services. We have implemented strategies that will enable us to develop and build capacity in response to new services as well as servicing, contracting, billing and payment claim requirements.

Our focus on data management and our client management system will see the implementation of a new Client Management System late this year, another essential component to our readiness to capture the what, when, where and how of the services and supports we deliver. This will equally enable us to forge ahead with even greater flexible options for our workforce and the consumer in regard to delivery of services.

We will continue to build strong, professional working relationships with the NDIA and NDIS My Way management, Planning and Support and Local Area Coordinators as we commence our journey as a NDIS service provider and look forward to the new opportunities for our organisation and our consumers.

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About the Author

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Dr Clare Allen

Dr Clare Allen is the Chief Executive Officer of VisAbility (formerly Association for the Blind of Western Australia). Clare has more than 20 years senior management experience and has effectively managed organisations to achieve significant success. Clare has a Masters of Leadership and Management and has just completed her Doctor of Business Administration. In Clare’s last role she tripled the size of Community First International in five years and increased the client numbers from 2,000 to 12,000. Clare has a long and established career working in youth; children’s services; disabilities; aged care; employment and mental health as well as strong private sector experience. Clare has won numerous awards, and some of these include: Winner Enterprising Woman Award –Chamber of Commerce and Industries 2009, Winner WA IBM Community and Government Telstra Business Woman of the year 2007, Winner 2007 Organisational Excellence Services Industry Award, Winner 1999 Organisational Excellence Services Industry Awards, Two Local Government awards for Innovation 2001 and 2003. Read more by this author →

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