Competitive shake-up for disability services

WARRNAMBOOL’S disability services will be forced to compete for business once the Commonwealth’s national disability insurance scheme kicks in. 

A gathering of the city’s disability service providers was told to prepare for an overhaul of the system planned to start from 2016. 

Groups from Geelong, where the NDIS has been trialled, were in Warrnambool on Tuesday to explain the system, which will require groups such as Mpower to change from operating like welfare agencies to businesses.

State head of the industry group National Disability Services, James O’Brien, said the changes would mean the government would pay families directly to “shop” for packages among Warrnambool’s services. 

“It will ensure that families are not stuck waiting for services. Those services will be provided by services who will have to effectively compete,” Mr O’Brien said. 

“Historically money has gone from government directly to services. It now goes to the person with disability or their families and they make the choice about which services best meet their individual needs. 

“There is a big challenge for disability service providers. A lot of organisations have to change the way they’ve done business in the past and that’s causing some stress.”

Mpower has about 800 clients across all ages and services. 

“Approximately two-thirds of our services will move into NDIS when it comes down here,” chief executive Kerry Nelson said. 

“Our age support services won’t be going into NDIS but all of our other services will.

“The importance is it gives people with disability individual choice.” 

Under the current system people are referred to organisations that have funding for the services they need.  

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