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Disability, social inclusion and the NDIS market

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

Very recently the spotlight was thrown upon disability matters with the launch of the Global Disability Summit. At the summit’s opening, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged that countries put people living with disabilities ‘front and centre’ of their post-COVID recovery plans. This includes increased investment in technology and equipment to support people with disabilities in education, employment and social engagement, strategies important for inclusion and fulfilment of the rights of people with disabilities.

Australia has been a world leader in disability inclusive development strategy and investment, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) lauded as a world leading scheme. However, the recent pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of people with disabilities in Australia and overseas, associated with people with disabilities not being fully considered in pandemic plans and responses (e.g., poor access to quarantined areas, rapid antigen testing and shortage of disability staff in services). The NDIS scheme itself is also still in a developmental phase.

One of the goals of the NDIS was to ensure increased choice in services, with the assumption that the market would be agile and responsive to the needs of people with disabilities. However, achievement of this has been challenging, due to some of the following reasons:

Early in the life of scheme, it was found that around half of those who received mental health related NDIS services had not previously received any disability support services, and services were funding this client group for the first time.
The so-called ‘administrative burden’ of the scheme has deterred some people with disabilities, including women, from accessing the program, or some independent disability service providers from entering it.
This administrative burden is likely to also have been a barrier for some people (e.g. from CALD backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) from accessing the scheme and the proportion of clients from these backgrounds in the scheme continues to increase.
The financial sustainability of organisations is a real concern for some providers, with 68% of organisations providing NDIS services reporting a profit or surplus in 2021.
Many providers have reported finding it difficult to recruit and retain some specialist allied health professionals.
The federal government has raised concerns about the sustainability of the NDIS scheme itself, and funding to support some disabilities (including autism, the primary disability type for NDIS services) has recently been cut back.

Since the introduction of the NDIS, the NDIA has tried to encourage providers to reshape their business models to better address the needs of the disability market and people with disabilities. One of the issues with the scheme is that there are still gaps in the market, with people not able to find the services they desire (despite the number of service providers), and the market is still maturing. The NDIS provides ongoing assistance to the market with bi-annual market position statements to increase understanding of the market, its growth and demand.

ZED Management Consulting recently assisted one South Australian disability provider by conducting an in-depth market analysis. This included an analysis of the national and state policy trends and an analysis of the South Australian disability market, including the geography, service type, participants and key strategic considerations (including market concentration and growth opportunities across regions).

ZED’s market assessment led to 17 potential opportunities for the service provider to consider in order to expand its growth and diversify its disability service portfolio and geographical reach. Following the identification of these opportunities, each opportunity was assessed against the parameters of Revenue Potential & Strategic Fit and Ease of Implementation by the service provider, to inform a prioritisation process at a workshop. Based on the assessment, the opportunities were scored and prioritised.

A geographical analysis then considered each opportunity against: geographical attractiveness, active participants and providers in the region, the market share of providers, the main disability types serviced in the region, plan utilisation, main age groups served, NDIA identified shortfalls identified for the region and the proportion of CALD/ATSI clients in the area. ZED provided the client with a comprehensive market analysis which assisted them to prioritise their strategies for expansion and diversification according to geographic region.

[1]Yates, S, Malbon, E, Carey, G, Hargrave, J. (2022). Women make up half the disability population but just over a third of NDIS recipients. The Conversation 2 Feb, 2022


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