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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Autumn 2023

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Recognising our MSWA volunteers | Horst Bemmerl: Reaching new heights | MSWA Albany turns one! | Anne and Doug's travel adventures


CLIENT ENGAGEMENT TEAM THE NDIS A DECADE ON: A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. In fact, according to the dates offered by ancient historians, it took roughly 1,229 years to build Rome from its foundation. And this example is not alone: the Great Wall of China was under construction for more than 2,000 years, while the leaning Tower of Pisa took 200 years to build – and that wasn’t even straight. The reason for this trip down historical-construction-lane is to show that projects which are large and complex take some time to build. One example of a large and complex project we interact with each day is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS recently turned 10 years old, offering a good opportunity to dig into the numbers and see how far the construction has come. THE NUMBERS: AN OVERVIEW At the end of 2022, the NDIS nationally reported: 573,342 active participants This is roughly 2.2% of the total Australian population 72,022 people nationally have a neuro diagnosis Of these, 49,419 participants are living in WA WA accounts for 9% of the total active participants 353,131 participants nationally – including 30,588 in WA – had not previously received disability support via state or federally funded programs before entering the NDIS. This does show that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is providing services to more people than ever before. THE NUMBERS: SPOTLIGHTING NEUROLOGICAL CONDITIONS When we focus on those participants with neurological conditions, we see: This represents 12% of total participants In WA 6,804 or 14% of participants fall into the neurological condition categories, with MS accounting for 2%, Cerebral Palsy 4% and other neurological conditions also 4%. Both nationally and in WA, autism makes up the largest cohort of participants at 34% and 36% respectively. What does this mean? In broad terms, the NDIA has been very successful in opening funding to more individuals across Australia than in the previous ‘block-funding’ era. While there is a lot of discussion around the impact of this growth, (see: NDIS budget blowout and NDIS worker shortage Bulletin Summer 2022, Pg 14) providing this many people with the opportunity to receive support based on their needs is a significant achievement within the first decade. More people have funding for services than ever before. Who is going to provide services to them? Since the NDIS was introduced, there has been an explosion of organisations providing services to people living with a disability. At the end of last year, 19,300 providers (2,851 in WA) had made at least one claim under NDIS funding. These providers cover everything from large organisations to sole traders. Interestingly however, only 9,660 of these providers nationally made a claim in the last quarter of 2022. This indicates some churn within providers across the NDIS. One of the largest growth industries under the NDIA is the number of registered Plan Managers active within the community. In December 2022, over half of all participants nationally were using a Plan Manager for some or all of their plans (58%), while nearly half of all payments made under the NDIA were through a Plan Manager (49%). Plan management is when a provider supports you to manage funding in your NDIS plan. These providers are known as ‘Plan Managers’. This shift towards Self-Managed/Plan Managed is not surprising. The NDIA was never going to be able to manage the plans of 500,000+ participants on an ongoing basis. However, the NDIA recently announced a review into Plan Managers to clearly establish the roles, functions, responsibilities and accountabilities of this service. If you are going down the Plan Manager route, please do your research. So, what do all these numbers tell us? One of the key takeaways for me is that the NDIS has become very big, very quickly. While this is great in terms of access to services, this type of growth does have the potential to deliver uneven results at times. I feel we can expect continued change over the next couple of years as the sector (both NDIA and providers) work to catch up with this increased demand. That said, it is a remarkable result for the first ten years of something as big as the NDIS. There will come a time when the NDIS is a settled and structured scheme moving throughout the community, as seamlessly as previous large social initiatives (Medicare). But until then, I think we can look back on the first decade of the NDIS as an important and successful period in the history of support for the disability sector. GEOFF HUTCHINSON MANAGER CLIENT ENGAGEMENT 8 9