Safeguards are vital - update on ADHC exit
As the process unfolds for transfer of ADHC disability services to the non-government sector, NSW CID continues to see two safeguards as vital:
1. Having independent consumer, family and professional representation on panels considering tenders for services
2. Ensuring a strong arrangement with the Ombudsman to monitor and report on transition from ADHC into NGO services for people with complex needs. This would require specific funding from ADHC.
Where the transfer process is up to
The period for NGOs to express interest in taking over blocks of ADHC services has now closed. These expressions of interest have been considered by Government officials but disappointingly not by independent representatives from the disability community.
Soon ADHC will invite providers who have got through the EOI process to tender for one of more of the 26 blocks of ADHC services. As well as individual providers, this may include some joint ventures and consortiums of providers.
Why safeguards on the tender process are needed
There are many community concerns about the ADHC exit process:
- Choice and control by people with disability is central to the NDIS and NSW Government disability policy but is not central in the Government’s plan. The Government’s plan is based on providers tendering for large groups of services.
- There was no consultation with people with disability and their families/carers about whether to tender services out rather than allow people to choose their providers.
- There is a lot of opposition by families to the Government’s decision to stop being a service provider. This opposition is particularly strong and understandable for families of people with complex behavioural needs. ADHC has always been the main provider and the provider of last resort for this group and it is not clear how the NDIS will make sure suitable services are available for people with complex behaviour.
- There is concern that the Government’s commitment to fully exiting disability service provision by June 2018 could lead to tenders being accepted that will not meet the needs of some people.
- The NDIS will allow people with disability to change support arrangements and providers after the Government’s tendering out process. However, the tender decisions may contribute to a very limited number of providers being available in a local area. The Government’s plan to lease houses to successful tenderers may also limit the scope for people to change providers.
NSWCID takes these community concerns extremely seriously.
At the same time, we do not want to delay implementation of the NDIS which will provide support for 140,000 people in NSW including approximately 50,000 people who are not currently receiving disability support.
And so, while we have strongly protested the Government’s plans, our focus now is on maximising the safeguards on the Government’s process.
There are very limited safeguards so far
ADHC has agreed to consult with residents of supported accommodation and their families once they have a short list of tenderers for the group homes in each district. However, this does not mean you can choose your provider.
You and perhaps 100 other people will each be giving your opinion about which providers should take over the 20 or so houses in your ADHC district. From what we know so far, no one will be able to make a binding choice of provider for the accommodation they live in.
ADHC will not be consulting consumers of other transferring services about who will take them over.
ADHC has agreed to fund an independent organisation to provide support to people with disability and their families through the transfer process. We have emphasised the need for this organisation to be skilled in working independently with people with disability and families.
Two key safeguards
- Having independent consumer, family and professional representation on panels considering tenders for services.
- Ensuring a strong arrangement with the Ombudsman to monitor and report on transition from ADHC into NGO services for people with complex needs.
ADHC has now:
- Agreed that there will be independent people on the tender panels and agreed that we and other key groups can put forward names that they will consider
- Agreed to explore with the Ombudsman our proposal for it to monitor and report on the transfer process.
It is vital that the Government provides funds to the Ombudsman to carry out this task.
We welcome these steps by ADHC and now look forward to reporting on concrete progress on them.
Without independent and transparent review of the transfer process and respected independent members of the disability community being on tender panels, there will be major new concerns about the tender process. We look to the Government to avoid this situation.
The ADHC transfer will be discussed in more detail at the upcoming NSW CID Conference - Challenge Change Create on September 14th & 15th.
Panelists taking part in the session ADHC transfer and NDIS transition include
- Jim Longley, Deputy Secretary, Department of Family and Community Services
- Anne Skordis, General Manager Scheme Transition, National Disability Insurance Agency
- Anita Le Lay, Director Disability, Uniting
- Katrina Armstrong, EO Local Area Coordination, St Vincent de Paul Society
- Chair – Joanne Hewitt, Chair, Centre for Disability Studies