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Fiona's Focus: 2019 reflections

Close up image if NDS VIC State manager Fiona Still with the text Fiona's Focus.


Welcome to the last edition of Fiona’s Focus for 2019. As the year draws to a close, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on some of NDS's achievements in Victoria funded by the State Government’s NDIS transition support program. This funding aims to support service providers as they build organisational capacity and capabilities and understand the evolving NDIS market.

One well-received initiative has been the subsidisation of high-quality Learning and Development opportunities. These sessions have included Lean Thinking, Transformational Leadership, Emerging Leader, Person-centred Practice, and the Change Room. Feedback on these offerings has been fantastic: One attendee went as far to say that the Emerging Leader course made learning fun. Others are enthused about bringing their learnings to their workplace. These sessions were complimented by NDIS in Practice Workshops on Strategy and Marketing that were run in six regional and three metropolitan locations. NDS is currently developing resources on social media based on the session content. We are pleased that the website traffic indicates providers continue to make use of the resources available on the NDIS in Practice website.

We have also focused on the Mainstream Mental Health Interface and NDIS funded supports, particularly on the support needs of people with dual diagnosis. More needs to be done to ensure the service sectors work in a more connected way to meet people’s needs. We are also looking at access to, planning and provision of early intervention supports, where concerning issues are arising including lack of access to supports for children 0-2 years old, and the promotion of the use of good practice transdisciplinary supports provided in natural settings.

NDS has captured and documented systemic issues raised by providers relating to the mental health interface, and we hosted two consultations in conjunction with Mental Health Victoria (MHV). These activities built on NDS member feedback provided at the mental health and disability consultation held in May to inform a submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. For further information, you can read the Royal Commission into Victorian Mental Health System article.

In Victoria, we have found that one of the most effective ways to get information to you all is to bring it to your ears. Our NDIS Sector Development Project podcast has had 20,000 listens. We are very happy you are listening! And we encourage you to keep doing so, as we are about to record an episode on navigating NDIS processes for participants with a psychosocial disability.

Managing risk is also high on the list of priorities for service providers at present, particularly given the Royal Commission. NDS and the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) hosted a successful Risk Management forum of over 100 people to explore the issues and effective risk management strategies. Attendees heard from Jane Boag and Cat Strawa from VMIA, Henry Newton from NDS, Aris Gounaris from DHHS and Phil Hardaker from Gallagher Insurance. Many providers are looking to move from VMIA's government-funded insurance to purchase of their own insurance as they transition to full NDIS funding. The forum participants received a useful workbook from VMIA on managing risk. If you are interested in receiving a PDF copy of this booklet, and other presentations from the day, please contact .

The popular Support Coordination and Complexity Community of Practices (CoP) continue to be led by NDS, and the Finance and ICT CoP are continuing as sector-led sessions at NDS. Emerging and continuing issues for providers include: planning inconsistencies, inconsistencies in information provided, review delays, length delays with manual payments and the contested responsibilities of mainstream services and NDIA funded supports. They continue to challenge the sector and the CoPs work together to develop practical ways of addressing needs.

These issues can generally be categorised as transition issues that we hope will become less pressing and be resolved overtime as understanding grows and robust systems are put in place to make the system more reliable and predictable for participants and providers. The ongoing concern that is impacting the sector now, in the medium-term and into the future is workforce. DHHS presented figures at a recent session that estimated that the disability workforce Australia-wide is at 93,000 FTE with an estimated need by 2023 of 189,000 FTE, which is an estimated growth of 96,000 FTE required across the country. Providers are already identifying shortages in all personnel in regional locations and thin markets in Therapeutic Supports and Behaviour Support Practitioners.

NDS is concerned about this emerging crisis. There is a need for sustained initiatives to promote opportunities in the disability sector, as well as the provision of a range of training opportunities that address needs for non-accredited and accredited training, micro-credentialing and inclusion of disability in the curriculum of relevant tertiary courses for allied health professionals. NDS's Workforce Connectors continue to work in regional areas and we have been funded to undertake additional Workforce Promotion work in Victoria at employment and careers expos and through engagement with tertiary institutions.

In 2020, we will continue this work, building on what we have done and continue to respond to the sector’s needs. I look forward to meeting more of you and engaging with the broader NDS team in the new year.

I wish everyone a safe, happy and festive Christmas Season!

Contact information
Fiona Still, State Manager VIC, 03 8341 4312,