State of the Disability Sector Report 2022 – Justin O’Meara Smith, CEO

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National Disability Services (NDS) has just launched the State of the Disability Sector Report 2022. It is an important read for anyone who has an interface with people with disability or the provision of quality and sustainable services. A disclaimer to start, I am an elected member of NDS WA state committee and a long-term fan. With that said, what is the Sector Report telling us?

46% of Providers made a profit in 21-22. That is a concerning figure, as it suggests that as demand and services are increasing, Providers are getting bigger and less profitable. Profits are important, as they are what we use to improve our services, engage and develop our workforce and recognise and reward our people for doing great things. The increase in NDIS funding in June 2022 was needed and is helping Providers to keep doing good work and reward our staff through pay increases, recognition and development. Concerningly, 36% of Providers are projecting a deficit for the year ahead, showing there is still more to be done.

67% of respondents indicated that conditions have worsened. This isn’t just about the NDIS and disability sector as we can all see there is a deterioration of business and consumer sentiment in Australia and across the world. For those of us providing NDIS services, demand for services is strong but the supply of suitable staff is tight.

36% of Providers are projecting a deficit for the year ahead, showing there is still more to be done.

The first 10 years of the NDIS has taken its toll on many providers and our staff. 73% of providers tell us their workforce are exhausted by NDIS changes (the change fatigue is palpable) and 74% believe their leadership teams spend too much time dealing with changes in the NDIS, which as a service leader I understand and acknowledge.

What about the good news?

43% said the policy changes are heading in the right direction which is very positive compared to 25% the previous year. Some of that is a result of increases in pricing and willingness to believe the new NDIS Review is a genuine opportunity to fix the NDIS problems for people with disability, providers and everyone else who interfaces with the NDIS and disability community. It is also because we see the government and NDIS valuing people with disability by giving them a seat on the NDIS Board, putting a focus on reducing the AAT backlog and including disability employment in the Jobs and Skills summit.

Like NDS, Interchange is ’cautiously optimistic’ about the future. I understand the NDIS isn’t about services or providers, it is about people with disability having access to a scheme that will help them live their best life, get a job or other valued role, access their community and flourish in a home of their choosing. Take the time to read the Sector Report and the 10 tips providers believe will help us to do our part to help people with disability to live a good life.

After 30+ years of services to support people with disability and their families, Interchange is in it for the long haul. We want to be part of the NDIS and help shape the NDIS future. We do it in collaboration with NDS and other Providers, but more importantly we do it one person at a time, through the support we provide our customers, and the opportunities and support we provide our valued staff. It hasn’t been easy, with Covid and the economic environment making it challenging in the last few years, but we have a plan, we have a vision and we have great staff who see disability services as a valued role and great career choice.

For that I am grateful and forever thankful, and as I said above, cautiously optimistic!