I first came into contact with the NDIS in the trial sites in Hunter (NSW) and Barwon (Vic), back in 2013. At that stage we all knew it was coming, and that it’d probably be a big change, but the scale and scope wasn’t really understood. I remember meeting with the Director in Barwon, and the office around us was literally still being built – the content of the conversation was being constructed at the same time. Even the people at the heart of it weren’t sure how it was exactly going to work, only that it should be great when all the kinks are ironed out.

Now, after four years of living and breathing NDIS, I have successfully found the most dangerous word in the disability sector today.

Should.

The NDIA should assess each Participant on the merit of their abilities, both current and potential.

Every Participant should have the same choices about how, where and when to purchase the support they need.

The process for making decisions about package contents should be transparent.

Planners and LACs should apply common sense and logic to even the most rigid assessment tools.

Plan periods should seamlessly cover each other and leave no gaps.

Everyone should be able to get consistent, quality advice in a timely fashion from the 1800 number.

Every decision should be made with an insurance overlay, with a truly long-term view.

The Provider Portal and Participant Portal should follow the accepted rules of physics.

State Government registration requirements for organisations should make it simple for new Providers to enter the market while still keeping Participants safe.

Quality should be a conversation every Provider is happy to start and have.

Providers should love getting back to purpose and not having to complete reams of Government administration any more.

Should.

If three years of living and breathing NDIS has taught me one thing it’s that just because it should, doesn’t make it so. One of the most valuable things everyone can do is let go of should, and focus is.

Because the is we have right now is still pretty incredible compared to how it has been for a long time, and the NDIS is showing signs of getting to the heights that it originally promised.

There is genuine choice for Participants, and the method of executing that choice is relatively simple and it works. There is choice within choice.

Every week there is another big precedent that goes the way of the Participant.

There is more and more interest from significantly powerful people and bodies into making sure that things are done in the right way. The Australian Human Rights Commission has seen an increase in the work they are doing with NDIS Participants, and the Commonwealth Government Ombudsman has been travelling around the country informing Participants and Providers of the interest and authority they hold and is dealing with significantly more issues than ever before.

The success of complaints and high-quality advocacy is having a positive impact, building on the fantastic foundations and values of the Scheme.

Is.

The NDIS is a world-first in it’s scale, and should transform the way that all Australians perceive and support people with disabilities. Some people have had some truly awful experiences that could easily colour our view of the Scheme, and these experiences absolutely should not happen, but for the majority it is making a dramatic improvement to lives. While it is going through teething problems, holding on to the positives and finding solutions to the not-so-positives will get us all from should to is in the coming years.

Rob Woolley

Rob is Director of The Forward Road, a consulting firm that specialises in working with NDIS Providers to design, develop and deliver outstanding services. We believe the best time to transform your organisation, and bring people back to the centre, is when the world around you is changing. We believe a conscious, values-based approach is the key to success for all businesses in all sectors.

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