The Observatory

Vision Australia and the NDIS

Graeme Craig

A year on from the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s Trial Sites, Vision 2020 Australia is hosting a series of blogs dedicated to the NDIS. In this installment Vision Australia’s Graeme Craig, General Manager NDIS Demonstration Sites, reflects on the progress so far. 

In mid-2013, Vision Australia selected offices in Geelong VIC and Newcastle NSW were to use as Demonstration Sites. Our Canberra ACT site joined them in December 2013. These sites sit within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) launch regions and each of these sites provides Vision Australia with different perspectives and insights into the schemes operation.

We spent time rebuilding team culture and testing new service initiatives. We learnt from these experiences to build an evidence base of what works and why.

During the past year, we also developed a strong relationship with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and we work cooperatively and collaboratively with them to achieve the very best outcome for our clients–Australians living with blindness and low vision.

The NDIS provides individuals with disability the ability to match services and supports to their aspirational goals. And, encouragingly, Vision Australia clients are telling us they are very happy with their experience of our new service offering.

It has also been a positive experience for our staff who have been able to innovate and trial new service initiatives based on our clients desire for new approaches. For example, in Geelong we now run a volunteer Community Access Support Service for activities such as grocery shopping, attending medical appointments or community based recreation activities and in Newcastle a Psychological Support Service provides initial emotional support in order to connectpeople with counselling services in their local community.

The way Vision Australia is engaging and working with clients is changing, beginning with a new localised intake model, and continuing with ongoing engagement and support characterised by person centeredness.

The teams in our Demonstration Sites are now more responsive to the individual client in terms of what we provide, where we provide it and how the service is delivered.

Vision Australia continues to actively engage with decision makers and influencers on NDIS matters, particularly around the role of service organisations in conducting specialist assessments, support for developing dog guides, funding of services delivered by volunteers, and the potential for block funding for services that do not fit under an individually funded model.

But the implementation of NDIS trial sites hasn’t been without its challenges. There is some inconsistency with the NDIA planning process, accessibility and reliability of their systems. We identify and respond to these challenges, and learn from each other in the process.

We are also concerned about the sustainability of services into rural and remote communities and the inclusion of some of the activities that deliver great outcomes for our clients that have not yet been identified as being funded by the scheme.

Over the next two years we are looking forward to developing a broader experience of the scheme both in terms of the number of clients and new jurisdictions, particularly with the introduction of the scheme in the ACT.

We are hoping for increased clarity about how support for rural/remote clients will work under the scheme and how the NDIS will work with other service areas including Aged Care, Employment; Education and Health.

We’d also like to see continued improvement in the consistency of planning and assessment, system integration for billing and payments and greater flexibility in how clients can adjust their packages.

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About the Author

Graeme Craig

Graeme Craig

Currently General Manager NDIS at Vision Australia, Graeme Craig has worked in the Vision Impairment and Blindness sector for the past 29 years. Graeme has a service delivery background, is trained as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist and has worked in New Zealand the United Kingdom and Australia. For the past 20 years Graeme has held a number of management and senior management roles focusing on service design and the ongoing sustainability of services. In his current role Graeme seeks to ensure that the great potential of the NDIS provides all of the opportunities and supports that people who are blind or have low vision want and value. Read more by this author →

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