Updated: Aug 28
The DSC Conference was back in person this year for the first time since the pandemic, and it did not disappoint.
About the DSC Conference
The DSC Conference is held annually showcasing NDIS experts, key stakeholders, and leaders within the disability sector across two days. The conference is an opportunity for many voices within the sector to share information and discuss the present and future of the NDIS with the goal of creating better outcomes for all Australians with disability.
This year, Bruce Bonyhady and Lisa Paul from the NDIS Review, along with NDIS Minister Bill Shorten MP, NDIS Commissioner Tracy Mackey, NDIA Chair Kurt Fearnley, NDIA CEO Rebecca Falkingham, Disability Discrimination Commissioner Dr Ben Gauntlett, and many more disability community members and advocates, expressed their hopes and goals for the future of the NDIS and the disability community.
Four of our First2Care team attended the conference this year, and all of them had the same take away – this is one of the most engaged and engaging events in the sector.
In previous years the sentiment from many speakers and attendees focused heavily on the problems with the NDIS (because let’s face it… the NDIS is not perfect). However, this year focused more on celebrating 10 years of the scheme and looking to the future of the NDIS.
Jess Harper (CEO of Disability Intermediaries Australia) discussed how the operational NDIS is now more complex than Australian tax law, which means navigators* are increasingly necessary to support participants to be active consumers.
Staff in the disability sector belong in the asset column. Too often employees are seen as a liability in P&L analysis and budgeting when the opposite is true. This is especially important in our sector, which has such a high turnover of staff.
It is important to nurture people who work in the sector. Worker burn out is damaging for participants. Quality is outcomes. All policy discussions during the event focused on outcomes for participants as the primary principle behind decisions. Bruce Bonyhady summed it up nicely with a profound quote: "Quality is not paperwork, it is good lives."
The NDIS is heavily investing in capacity building with an additional $900 million in funding going to this area.
Minister Bill Shorten discussed the intention to recruit and offer stable career paths to people who “know the NDIS” and well as continuing the discussion about the NDIS reboot and what that may look like.
The NDIS wants to bring expertise in navigating back internally, in a similar vein to the old Case Management model. This would reduce some of the unpaid workload currently shouldered by Support Coordinators and advocates
The NDIS review is poised to deliver some potentially major findings. It was repeatedly referenced in in different panels throughout the event. Price caps, role of LACS, role confusion of intermediaries, and many more topics are likely to be unpacked.
*Navigators are plan managers and support coordinators whose role it is to help participants better understand and navigate their plan and plan funding.
Disability and the workforce
One of the major topics of discussion at the DSC Conference was around people with disabilities and the workforce.
Integration was a topic touched on across many panels; but one of the goals of the NDIS was to have people with disabilities integrate into the mainstream community and integration into the mainstream job market. Transactional relationships cannot work, it requires an open and frank relationship because supported decision-making takes time.
“There was a lot of emotions on the second day around the work requirements to intersect Disability Services with the cultures of Australians (particularly the focus around First Nation) 'Community Lead Outcomes'” First2Care Business Development Lead, Manoah Baker
Graeme Innes, NDIA Board Member said, “If you don't have 5 - 10% of your workforce with a Disability you are part of the problem”.
This topic is something particularly close to our hearts at First2Care. In 2022, we made it our mission to increase our number of staff members with disability to 15%, which we are happy to report has been achieved. Although we reached out initial goal, we're not stopping there. We routinely have new job openings available. If you'd like to know if there are currently any positions open, you can email our support team.
Read more about the benefits of working with an independent, professional Plan Manager. Alternatively, contact our friendly team on 1300 322 273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.