NDIS threatens to wipe out some disability services

A LEGAL specialist has warned that regional disability service providers will face "oblivion" under the new National Disability Insurance Scheme, but a national not-for-profit group is not too concerned.

Brad Swan - the operations director of Life Without Barriers, which has an office in most regional areas in Queensland - says although some disability services may face challenges once the NDIS is fully operational, there are ways to overcome this.

Mr Swan said regional service providers would need to look at what they offered to people and how they stayed relevant.

"It will have challenges for organisations," he said.

"But the more we think about what those issues and challenges will be, the more we can do to prepare ourselves over time, the better place we will be."

He said services would have to change their focus from being a block-funded business to one where they had to remain relevant and keep marketing themselves.

He said it would soon be about selling their organisation to the person with a disability and their family.

This was something Mr Swan said his service had already been testing.

Life Without Barriers has been trying new marketing strategies including advertising on billboards, petrol pumps and at cinemas for their foster carer program.

Mr Swan said one of their main drivers would be making sure they responded to inquiries quickly.

"One of the best ways to promote yourself is for a person to have a positive experience with you and talking positively about you in the community," he said.

If services still ended up struggling under the new scheme, Mr Swan said there were other options such as partnering with other services or changing focus.

Overall, he believed the NDIS was a positive move because it would give people with a disability greater control.

"I think it will provide much needed services to a lot of people with a disability who are not receiving services," he said.

Not-for-profit legal specialist Paul Paxton-Hall said the NDIS would allow people with a disability to decide what services they needed and what they would pay from July 1 next year.

"The shift means smaller providers will need to seriously review their own operations and potentially explore other business options to survive," he said. - APN NEWSDESK



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