Sole traders and small businesses providing supports and services to people with disabilities are pivotal to the NDIS – but it’s time they got the backing afforded to the bigger players.
In remote areas, regional towns and big cities these independent businesses play a very important and integral role for the NDIS and its ability to offer ‘choice and control’.
They are the allied health workers using their specialist skills helping people to maintain and improve their lives; the support coordinators who are researching, planning and organising to help a participant’s plan come to life; and the psychologists, occupational therapists and support workers doing long hours in their small businesses to help clients meet and work through their challenges.
But are they slowly being squeezed out?
Under the NDIS’ National Information Program up to $51 million in funding has been made available from this financial year through to the end of the 2021-22 financial year for organisations.
Sounds great. However, digging a bit deeper we find these grants very much skewed to the big organisations.
Take the Exceptionally Complex Support Needs Program funding. To apply providers were required to be NDIA-registered and have delivered across three categories – behaviour management supports, co-ordination of supports and specialist support coordination.
Most small to medium businesses specialise in one of these three things. It is only large organisations that will be registered across all three categories. This narrows the field, directing the dollars to a small number of big players in the marketplace.
The NDIA says it has ‘a role in encouraging a healthy and diverse marketplace for disability services and supports.
For this to be the case, let’s see some of the NIP funding heading the way of small business. They are passionate about what they do, they are innovative in their work practices and they are integral to our economy.
So, let’s get behind them. Let’s afford them the same opportunities as the big players.
Director of OneCommunity
Our organisation is based in Newcastle, NSW and came about as a result of working for a large not-for-profit disability service in one of the NDIS pilot regions. We a saw the frustration and anxiety for people with a disability, their carers and families trying to ring around and find services only to be told the service was at capacity, or they couldn’t service their unique needs. This contributed to families not connecting with services and not utilising their NDIS plan, and a negative outlook towards the NDIS.