Technology | Innovation

The NDIS is a platform for innovation

“Don’t think of the National Disability Insurance Scheme as another government-controlled scheme: think of it as a new national consumer-controlled marketplace with enormous growth potential,” NDIS Agency Chairman, Bruce Bonyhady AM told a CEDA audience.

“The shift from welfare to an insurance model for disability services, together with the alignment it creates between the interests of the scheme – the participants, families and carers – is revolutionary,” he said.

“We are implementing a consumer-directed approach to service delivery on a scale not seen anywhere in the world.

“Without the NDIS, governments were being forced to spend more on crisis and emergency supports, and government-funded disability services were in a death spiral.”

Mr Bonyhady said the NDIS project is proceeding on time and on budget, currently in eight trial sites with 19,500 participants reporting higher than 90 per cent client satisfaction.

Once fully operational in 2019–20 the NDIS will cost $22 billion a year, largely funded through an increase in the Medicare levy. But doing nothing would have cost much more.

“In 2011, PwC found that without the NDIS, government expenditure on disability would increase to between two and three times the projected cost of the NDIS,” he said.

“Rewards from the NDIS far outweigh the risks, just as the benefits of the NDIS greatly exceed the costs.”

Mr Bonyhady said that, until now, people with disabilities were treated as second class citizens and were the poorest in the OECD. The previous system was broken – underfunded, unfair, fragmented, inefficient and allowed clients little choice.

“Australia’s private and public sectors had failed to either insure or provide for significant and permanent disability. The NDIS will put an end to this segregation of access and opportunity,” he said.

Mr Bonyhady said that the scheme’s implementation is creating major business opportunities.

“Under the NDIS, total markets for disability support will more than double over the next five years, but the contestable market for disability services will grow even faster – between three and four times as governments withdraw from direct provision,” he said.

As well as the business opportunities for traditional providers of specialist disability services, there will be opportunities for organisations in adjacent sectors such as health and aged care, opportunities in other community services and in local governments, and the NDIS will also be outsourcing its administration of the scheme.

“The workforce needed to service this new market under the NDIS is expected to grow by another 60,000 to 70,000 full-time equivalent people – new workers who will need to be trained, representing major opportunities for the education sectors,” he said.

“Accessibility is now part of the DNA of every major global technology company and the digital divide is being replaced by digital inclusion for people with disability.

“One billion dollars will also be allocated to participants to spend on technology. Apps are being developed, more will be needed and the NDIS will turbo-charge technology investments and innovation.”

Mr Bonyhady said the business opportunities would continue to expand as data becomes available.

“By 2020 with 460,000 participants, Australia will have the richest database on disability anywhere in the world. Data analysis has already led to refinements in the scheme, which will always continue. But there are huge opportunities ahead for research and analysis, leading to refinements in every aspect,” he said.

“It is an exciting time for the NDIS. For the first time (in Australia), people with disability will have the opportunity for an ordinary life.”