New website upgrades! What’s new

Lessons from the Trial Sites: Part 1

Our NDIS Flying Start workshops are nearly over and the learnings shared from participants and presenters in the trial sites have been amongst the highlights of our work. This article is the first of a three part series exploring the opportunities and teething issues emerging in the early stages of the NDIS rollout.

By Roland Naufal

Updated 15 Apr 20241 Jul 2015

Our NDIS Flying Start workshop series is almost finished – 15 workshops so far with over 420 people attending events from Melbourne to Darwin (only Brisbane to go!). Many of our presenters and participants have trial site experience and the lessons they have shared have been amongst the highlights of our work.

When we sat down to write an article about what we’ve learned we realised we had enough material for 3 articles. So here is part 1 of our 3 part series…


Capacity Vs Promise

The Agency has talked a lot about individual capacity building but so far has not achieved a great deal. People with disability and families require more assistance than expected to navigate the new ‘market’ and the systems to support this navigation are significantly under-developed.

Some consumers are wary at the point of entry into the system. For many, it feels like they are dealing with a new government department. For families with young children, labelling their child as ‘permanently disabled’ creates a significant problem. Similar issues are happening in mental health.

Everybody is waiting to see what the ILC roll out will do to support this current serious system shortcoming in the NDIS. Someone in DSS also needs to tell us what happened to the Sector Development Fund’s promise of capacity building?


Moving on from grief

The move to individualised funding and the changes to work practices and operating systems has caused a lot of grief. It’s been tough making the transition but many of the trial site organisations have now developed a noticeable air of confidence. They understand the new NDIA systems and how to make them work.

Some early organisational take-outs (more in Part 2):

  • Allow time to get to profitable margins
  • Avoid over-investment in fixed costs (from offices to software and salaried staff)
  • Local knowledge and relationships (or the capacity to build them quickly) are vital
  • Things never go according to plan so plan to change as you go.


… the more things stay the same?

For many people things look much the same in trial sites as they did before the NDIS came to town. There has been very little change in accommodation support and innovation in all forms of service delivery seems slow.

It has not yet emerged how the NDIS will support innovation other than leaving it to the market (with all its well known failures). Despite these limitations, the feeling we are getting is that as consumers become more demanding, service innovation will come with a bit of a rush. We reckon its about 18 months before the seismic shifts occur.


Deciding what you don’t do

Collaboration is working for many organisations, although sometimes competition gets in the way. Most managers are realising the new NDIS pie is big enough to share, but many struggle with where to draw the boundaries between when to collaborate and when to compete. The smart organisations have worked out where they want to be and are then able to partner/collaborate on the places they don’t want to be. And then there are organisations that are making the mistake of ceasing all collaboration and networking because it is not costed in NDIS pricing.


Remember your travelling companions

It is taking a lot of work to bring all stakeholders along on the journey into the NDIS, but doing so is essential to success. Clients are now a central stakeholder group that many organisations are not yet engaging in a systematic way. Referral points are not always comprehending the new ways of doing business leading to referrals in some sectors drying up. Some Boards (and even senior management of very large organisations) are just not understanding the very significant changes required, or the importance of preparation planning. The moral: it’s time to map and proactively manage all your stakeholders.


Despite some teething issues, we remain true believers in the NDIS, the scheme brings very positive change for people with disability and almost all the early indicators are good.


To read Part 2 of our trial site lessons, with a focus on systems and organisational operating issues, click here.


Roland Naufal

Explore DSC

Subscribe to the newsletter you’ll actually want to read

Learn from the humans obsessed with Australia’s NDIS. 50,000 readers strong.

Explore DSC Learning