The NDIA has declared it’s ideal LAC and ECEI Partner to be a unicorn, but looking at the NDIA’s intentions these unicorns will be feeling the whip. With registered providers locked out and the wildly erratic expectations on these partners to manage huge variations in participant volumes a significant challenge, the NDIA might expect some challenges in finding a good fit.
Not to be deterred, the NDIA has laid down its wishlist for any potential LAC and ECEI Partners. It’s offering potential partners “a very intense relationship” and requiring the use of the Agencies IT systems (…because My Place has been a great success). The chosen partners will be fundamentally responsible for delivering the bi-lateral agreement in the area and will be charged with drawing the line between what is “disability and what is all of the other mainstream service systems”, a line that the NDIA itself has found “quite blurry”.
Potential LAC and ECEI partners are reminded that their decisions are open to review. Before NDIS participants get too excited at that prospect, potential partners have been told “that at that point you are not an advocate for the person, but rather an arm of the Agency”.
We’ve pulled the following passage from the NDIA’s transcript of its industry briefing webinar. The webinar was conducted on August 15 to address potential LAC and ECEI partners (emphasis added):
“So let me now go to a little bit more about the philosophy of what we’re looking for in our partners, because this is a really important thing to understand. So not only do you need to have the demonstrated understanding of the requirements of the services of LAC and/or Early Childhood, but we really are very keen to bring this perfect mix.
It’s like a perfect balance really of intense knowledge of what an LAC, Early Childhood Early Intervention provider can bring, but also be able to scale and to grow and to deliver against those performance requirements within the bi-laterals from day one. It is a very intense relationship that we will be seeking to ensure that on a daily basis we are able to work with the partners and manage the phasing obligation that we will have to have.
Importantly there there will be, as you’ve seen from where we’re looking at our partners, many other partners. So in the one service area there will be an LAC and an Early Childhood partner, and we will have to work in a really collaborative way with the Agency, both within those service areas and across service areas. So organisations who are comfortable and willing to share good ideas and to share learnings and practice that makes the processes for everybody work better, we also strongly encourage you to apply.
So again emphasising these issues. I think that what I want to emphasise about being a partner means that as we in the Agency do, you need to live and breathe these principles of the Scheme. Live and breathe and be able to demonstrate your longstanding contributions to the principles of empowerment and choice and control of individuals.
But it also means that you have to have fantastically embedded connections. You have to be able to build on the trust and the respect and the understanding of what works in your community, and to be able to work with that for the best achievements for individuals.
I also want to pull out here this principle about data integrity. It is the evidence that we generate from the Scheme will be the base upon which the Scheme will be able to demonstrate the benefits that the Productivity Commission projected around the benefit for society and the community as a whole.
Without integrity of data collection all within the Agency’s IT system, the collection of outcome data, the collection of change within society, we won’t have that ability to demonstrate why this Scheme is so unique. This one is a really key area of interest for many people, and I’ll talk about it in detail as we go on.
But I want to just emphasise the first dot point on this slide. As a partner you are accountable for the service outcomes, and as a prime you would need to be responsible for the outcomes of your sub-contractors. That relationship would need to be seamless for people on the ground, and as an Agency we would expect to interact with you as the prime.
Fundamentally the delivery requirements of the bilateral rest with you in that service area. So that means that you must be pretty confident about some core things that are embedded in the NDIS Act, and there’s three in particular that I would bring to your attention. The access criteria – your job under either of the services would be to explain, support, facilitate individuals in the community to better understand the access requirements of the Scheme. You will also need to be able to explain what is reasonable and necessary.
At this point I really want to emphasise that one of the major challenges that our own staff and that partners to date have found is that when we talked about a State run system, the boundaries between what was disability and what is all of the other mainstream service systems have all been quite blurry. Under the NDIS all Governments have agreed to a range of mainstream interfaces where under the National Disability Strategy it remains the responsibility of those mainstream organisations to support and to embrace the needs of people with disability. Your role in understanding reasonable and necessary has to take those interfaces into account, and then of course all of the criteria within the legislation.
Then importantly there is also a process for reviewable decisions. If a person seeks to have a decision that you’ve been involved with to be reviewed, your role will be to provide information and advice about your relationship with that person and the logic of what you have or haven’t recommended for that person. It’s important that at that point you are not an advocate for the person, but rather an arm of the Agency in explaining where that decision did or didn’t come from.
So there are some things being a partner that are common. Common skills, common capabilities, and that all partners are going to need to be able to push into place and to bring to bear. In particular on our establishment services, they’re all very detailed in the Statement of Requirements. All the things that you would expect an ordinary professional organisation to have to have in place, an establishment plan outlining all of the things that you are going to do to enable you to stand up, and then underneath all of those, all of those other detailed plans.
It’s at this point that you will need to understand the importance of that very long named Schedule Template, Workforce Deployment, Staff Development and Pre-Implementation Schedule. It will be an assessable document for the purposes of evaluation, but you are only required to complete one Schedule for one service area.
That means that we’ll be able to compare everybody’s across all of those same service areas. It’s designed to give us confidence about your understanding, your overall approach and your insight into the complexity of what needs to be put in place to enable the service to be stood up, and then of course that will be backed up by a very detailed establishment plan should you be the successful applicant.”
There you have it, would the Unicorns please stand up? 🦄