NDIS: A Looming Disaster

I can no longer sit and watch the NDIS turning into a debacle.  At least this is the case in terms of supporting young adults with significant disability to transition from school to work.

The enormous amount of money was always going to attract new players onto the market. (That’s a good thing: fresh ideas, competition, new energy, etc.) However, it was also obvious that the same money would bring profiteers, and the well intentioned, but inexperienced or incompetent. Following the inconsistent planning process, we see completely inept and incompetent service delivery waste the widely varying funds available.

And so it goes. I am told Catholic schools are not to refer students to disability employment services, because the money can be used by new faith-based vocational preparation programs.

It was always going to be a stretch to introduce such an ambitious reform program in such a short time. But poor planning, as well as inexperience and a lack of thought around consequences, are conspiring to damn the aspirations of this year’s school leavers.

The concept of ‘employment first’ cannot be found in the NDIS. You can get a bushwalking companion, have a decoupage friend or employ your own parents and family members to do stuff you’d previously taken responsibility for. But you are not likely to be offered the chance to get a real job! Imagine being the person that the NDIS assumes is not worthy of employment? At best you are offered ‘help’ from organisations that have never guided people with disability to become job ready before.

Official Transition numbers indicate a couple of excellent programs, a few that have a clue and then a very long tail with some providers never having achieved a successful placement into open employment. (Yes, never!)

By all reasonable measures, NOVA Employment is a good bet for successful transition.

Mums and dads need to know who will find their children solid work that suits their interests, skills and aspirations. They need support to make informed choice not exploited for their plan funds.

Unfortunately, the SLES (School Leaver Employment Supports) that was based on NSW’s successful Transition program, is turning rapidly into a debacle that will set this year’s transitioning students back years in their preparation for the real world of work.

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- Martin Wren