Don’t Tip the Boat Over

Sunday 3rd December 2023 was International Day for People with Disabilities. On this day we witnessed several harsh headlines that truly made us wonder whether Australian newspaper editors have a heart. While their hearts hardened presumably in action for clicks and sales, our hearts perhaps ever so slightly broke a little more, with little energy left for anger we collectively cross our fingers for Thursday.

Returning to the media narrative for a moment, we will tackle the Thursday situation shortly.

Headlines shouted that over $40BN (Australian Parliamentary Library) is currently being poured into the NDIS with a prediction of more to come in years ahead. Accusations flew that such fortune has fuelled the birth and evolution of a money hungry, fraudulent industry, and the sentiment behind the words rattled providers and stakeholders yet again… what is this news setting us up for… what will the government be telling us on Thursday? We know that the vast majority of providers are honest, rule abiding and serve participants admirably and who are just trying to keep the lights on.

Will we survive if the boat tips over?

Business boats of all shapes and sizes are already potentially running aground.

Accompanying the headlines of NDIA cost blow-out, greedy providers, fraud cases, is some relatable truth. The Australian, 28th November 2023 reports that the Stewart Brown NDIS Benchmarking report due December 2023 will suggest that the provider market is struggling, with 60% of registered providers predicting financial losses in the months ahead. Allied Health Business Owners know that exceptional management and leadership skill is required to ensure break even financial performance or modest profit during summer, especially those serving children and families.

Understandably, the average taxpayer reads the headlines, sees those enormous numbers and the arrests of the fraudulent providers fleecing the system and assume that the entire Scheme needs to be abandoned. Here lies the disconnect between what the NDIS thinks business owners should be able to achieve, the commercial reality of running a professional service business in a shape shifting fee capped environment (plus inflation and steeply increasing salary pressures) and the media potentially filling the reality gaps. So much money, yet the scheme doesn’t seem to be working. Will we see reform for the Scheme to be better after Thursday?

We have received the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability in November 2023.

We await The NDIS Review.

Cabinet are meeting Wednesday 5 December.

Thursday 7th December 2023 at 12.30 pm Senator Bill Shorten speaks with the National Press Club regarding The NDIS Review.

Today, news from National Cabinet is that governments in each state and territory have agreed to uplift their supports for these children and families. For those of us who have lapped the sun many times, gosh this feels like a back to the future moment. How will this work within systems that in our experience are a universe away from getting support for children with disabilities right, and how long will it take? Will people with disabilities and those who care for them be left in limbo for years… again?

In many jurisdictions, most supports for Australians with disability were removed at state / territory level as soon as the roll out of the NDIS took place, meaning that a complete re build from the ground up, ten years later, alongside a workforce crisis is required. Yet again we ask how on Earth would a system running in parallel to the NDIS with potentially different funding models, systems and processes work now that a reasonably established industry has formed around the NDIS and it’s – shall we say – idiosyncrasies.

While we all agree that change is required, all NDIS stakeholders can see is yet another storm front ahead. Understandably Participants wonder whether their Plans will suffice to provide the future support they require, nay deserve.

The workforce remain cautious, selective, weary and casual workers migrate to more stable industries.

Government continues to try and forge ahead knowing the economic benefits that the NDIS brings, we must talk about Outcome Measures another day, but with a responsibility to ensure that an increase in spending is carefully managed.

Business owners question whether they should hold off on the next recruitment drive, team training investment, IT infrastructure or expansion to green pastures due to nervousness about their current and future clientele being de-funded.

The good news is that at the end of the day the SME market is arguably well positioned to forge ahead with a display of creative problem solving, agility, responsivity and resilience all honed during some very tough years.

Heads up, we absolutely stand with you.

So let’s tune in to Thursday alert but not alarmed.

Lets galvanise our collective support should it be required on Friday.

Time may be our friend. The recent response to the Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations may be a good guide for what to expect. Significant and large government system reform takes time, we have been told to expect the same, which enables providers to design and deploy the essentially adaptations to future conditions, which fortunately is our super power. The power of critical analysis, detail, planning, implementation and measurement will help providers stand out in the market place for all the right reasons.

The Nacre Consulting members have been busy preparing to set their sails for the weather ahead, ready to tack across the next wave of change.

If you’re feeling lonely at the helm of your ship, overwhelmed by managing the numbers, overworked because the business is totally dependent on you, then invest in yourself and book that free Power Call with an Allied Health Business Consultant.

When you need help to navigate your business through the likely storms ahead you know where we are.  

Best you don’t wait and see, now is when to get your co-pilot on board.  

Join the conversation in our Facebook group Private Practice Made Perfect.


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