Break Thru identified Five Truths from the NSW Hunter Region NDIS Trial site

One of life’s lessons is that a combined experience can quite often help to lessen the impact on an individual, be it a single person or an organisation.

It was with this in mind that a cross section of Townsville’s disability service providers came together recently to attend a breakfast meeting at the new premises of local organisation Kith and Kin. The event was the result of a desire for more NDIS information, expressed by participants at the December meeting of the North Queensland NDIS Working Group.

The group had come to take part in a much anticipated presentation on the Key Learnings from one of the NDIS test sites in the Hunter Region of NSW.  Ben Droll, National Transition Manager for nationally based service provider Break Thru People Solutions, took the stage and for the next 80 minutes, spoke of his organisations experiences as they negotiated the somewhat “unmapped” territory of a NDIS trial site in NSW.

With a responsibility to oversee his organisation’s transition into the NDIS, Ben was well placed to speak. He explained the need to consider risk and to have a clear mission based strategy. It soon became clear that it was not sustainable to wait for instruction from the government – If an organisation was serious about their intentions to participate in the NDIS, they would have to reach out and grasp their own opportunities. The message being quite clear you must be PROACTIVE in the new environment and not reactive.

New Units of Measure

Like the switch from imperial measurement to the metric system, experience from the trial sites has seen the need to move away from performance based on output.

Under the new funding model, an organisation will have to generate quantifiable outcomes, effectively making those with the money (NDIS end users and participants) the driving force behind service delivery. As in most other commercial fields of operation….the customer is king!

The presentation focused on five truths that Break Thru had ascertained as a result of their NDIS experience:

  1. An organisations worst case current cash position should be viewed as the BEST case cash position. Understanding the working capital ratio is imperative in order to remain sustainable.
  2. The actioning of invoices and claims MUST be done as soon as possible after service delivery. Prompt and efficient processing will become the basis of an organisation’s cashflow.
  3. Ensure all staff within an organisation have a complete understanding of their capabilities and responsibilities when dealing with customers. Customers generally won’t complain, under the NDIS they will simply choose another provider.
  4. While keeping the mission statement at the centre of any transaction, it was important that an organisation remain flexible. Staff must be empowered to provide customers with what they are paying for and not be forced into making excuses for a failure to deliver. Customers don’t want to know the Why, they only want to know the When!
  5. Don’t wait for the NDIS – use whatever resource is available at the time. Experience in the trials indicates that using existing block funding to prepare has invariably resulted in longer term savings. Take stock, Plan and Use what you have to move forward – be creative and innovative.

These five points might be seen as subjective. Each organisation will have a different experience as they transition to the NDIS but, subjectivity aside, the cultural change that the sector is presently undergoing cannot be underestimated or ignored. The time for action is now.

If you are interested in joining the North Queensland NDIS Working Group check out our meeting notes. The group welcomes similar-minded not-for-profits.