Care for the most vulnerable – Shifting the power

Human rights underpin the NDIS legislation and are the foundation on which the shift to the self-directed, person-centred approach is grounded. In the past disability care has had an uneven power base.  Now it’s the participant who has the power.  Disability support providers need to work with the needs of the participant in this new person-centred and customer-centric ethos of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“It’s a seismic shift from a heavy-handed Stalinist-style structure, to one that is consumer-driven”, said Professor Ian Hickie, Co-Director of the Brain and Mind Centre at University of Sydney in the July 2018 Australian Financial Review article.

Bruce Bonahady was quoted in the same Australian Financial Review article about why he worked to set up the scheme and what was the trigger for change. In 2008, Bonyhady floated the idea of a government-funded insurance scheme at the Australia 2020 Summit.

Today, person-centred practice policy is the principle that underpins what a service provider delivers - a commitment to ensuring supports are in line with rights, goals, needs and desires of each participant. Cultural awareness and diversity can’t be overlooked. In the past, some participants were given a service whether they liked it or not.  Now listening to each participant, supporting them to make decisions for themselves, prioritising their own outcomes and having a voice in how the funding is spent are key to the success of the NDIS and the well-being of participants all over Australia.

This change in mind-set to a person-centred power base has been around for a few years but individualised funding with the NDIS has forced the change.  The other industry sector change is the creation of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission and the fraud taskforce for investigating providers, as reported by ProBono. Now more than ever the spotlight is on providers compliance with policies and processes. Tailoring the services for the participant and not the other way round, can only be a good thing.

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