Webinar 2: How Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) works in practice

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An in depth look at how the scheme works from the perspective of a person with lived experience of disability, strategic advisors and executives from the NDIS scheme. 

Maryanne Diamond gave an overview of context and main achievements, Marita Walker focussed her discussion on how people can access the scheme, and use it for self-managment and living independently; Anne Skordis looked at how NDIS  works for providers and Dr Sam Bennett, former head of TLAP, gave a comparison with England's  social care system to help put the information into context. Caroline Speirs, TLAP Head and our chair Clenton Farquharson gave reflections and comments.

Caroline Speirs says:

"The NDIS is the biggest social policy reform in Australia since Medicare, I think it's fair to say that many of us would argue that here in England, we need social care to be the biggest policy reform since the creation of the National Health Service, and that reform needs to transcend traditional social care boundaries to include the wider public services and civil society as NDIS appears to have done, appears to be doing". 

Dr Sam Bennett on being asked about difference between English and Australian social care, says:

"In Australia there is an over dependence on more traditional forms of care, in place of innovative care which iseems to be  further advanced in UK. It's something we are looking at. I wonder if there are a number of factors for that in UK, and one being the necessity to innovate in face of sustained finanaical pressures, which we've not had since the NDIS has doubled the money".

"Nothing works without the fabric of community infrastructure and support. Without that formal supports are very quickly unsustainable, and you end  up plugging gaps on what should be there within informal, community and mainstream supports for everyobdy . That's still a work in progress and we've got a lot of a way to go on that. In the UK  I'm sure it's the most difficult thing to keep afloat when budgetary pressures remain what they are but it's so important to do so because it's the real glue that holds everything together.

Further reflection from the Q & A

Unlike in England where there is variation in the take up of direct payments across the country, in Australia everyone has a personal budget - with 100 national coverage -the scheme is able to track individual progress and data. Variations are known to exist amongst the different cohorts of people who take up the option of self managment, which would be the equivalent of a direct payment. This is the case for those groups that evidence from international studies would suggest have the best outcomes - people with intellectual disabilities, mental health and psychosocial disabilities. 


Eddie Bartnik

Eddie Bartnik is currently International Lead - International Initiative for Disability Leadership. Previously he was Strategic Adviser to the National Disability Insurance Agency in Australia and has unique experience across both disability and mental health including executive state government roles in mental health, disability and community services as well as 20 years extensive international consulting. Eddie has worked extensively and published across Australia and overseas and is a Salzburg Global Fellow.

Clenton Farquharson MBE

Clenton Farquharson, MBE, is Chair of the Think Local Act Personal partnership board.  Clenton is also a member of the NHS Assembly which was set up to oversee the NHS Ten Year Plan, he is the current chair of Quality Matters, a trustee of the Race Equality Foundation, ambassador for Disability Rights UK, director of Community Navigator Services CIC, and a Skills for Care Ambassador.

Caroline Speirs

Caroline is the Head of TLAP. She has over twenty years' experience of local government social care departments working in policy, commissioning and leading on personalisation. She is a strong advocate of co-production and says, "co-production is not an optional extra.  Rather, it is fundamental to an approach that is based on mutual respect and sharing of power".

Maryanne Diamond AO

Maryanne is the General Manager Participant Advocacy at the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the NDIA Disability Champion.  She has held a wide range of roles in Australia and at the global level for more than 25years including being the inaugural CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, and a Past President of the World Blind Union. In June 2014, Maryanne was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia.

Marita Walker

Marita is currently Strategic Advisor, Contemporary and Innovation Approaches with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and was previously Manager of the NDIS trial site in Western Australia. Marita has extensive experience  in providing disability support services in senior roles in government and non-government organisations in Western Australia including as CEO of Perth Home Care Services  for 15 years where her organisation focussed on working in partnership with consumers to design personalised supports.

Anne Skordis

Anne is the Executive Director of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Services with a non government organisation Mercy Community in Queensland, Australia. Previously Anne had senior roles with the National Disability Insurance Agency  as  Expert Advisor in areas of interface with mainstream services systems and  General Manager, Scheme Transition  as well as several roles within the New South Wales state government related to disability and aged care policy, regional operations, and service delivery.

Dr Sam Bennett

General Manager for Policy, Advice and Research at National Disability Insurance Agency will provide some reflective commentary on the Australian experience and help contextualise this to England. Sam has been working at the NDIA in Australia since 2018 and previously had extensive experience in England including his role as Program Director at TLAP and also leading national reform on integrated personal commissioning.