The nation collectively LOL’ed when the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ online census portal collapsed on Tuesday August 9. The next day the ABS chief was in front of cameras declaring a hack. By noon experts were declaring a hack unlikely and identifying grossly inadequate resources the more likely culprit. Before the week was out, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull fronted the media to declare ‘heads will roll’.
— Casey Fung (@TheCaseyFung) August 10, 2016
When my kids ask why I haven't made dinner tonight, I'm going to tell them it's not a failure, just a denial of service. #CensusFail
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) August 10, 2016
— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) August 9, 2016
However, for those in the NDIS community it paled in comparison to the months long fiasco that has been the NDIA’s MyPlace portal. While #Censusfail inconvenienced a nation, the MyPlace fail has left people participating in the NDIS unable to access services and caused significant hardship to people and families trying to survive without promised funds.
It left many of us scratching our heads. Do Australians have an existential need to fill in the census? It seems everything, from the public outcry, to the extensive media coverage, to the PM’s heads-will-roll response, was a bit… over the top.
If two government websites fail, one that handles much needed funding and the other is to check the number of Jedi in the country, surely it is the first one that deserves the outcry, the coverage and the immediate action from government. No?
The logic of this is unfortunately clear. Media coverage and public outcry encourage each other. Outcry gets coverage and coverage stokes more outcry. If the outcry and coverage push each other far enough, it can move governments to act (or at least huff and puff about acting).
How much outcry does it take to get coverage? In short, more and more each day.
It’s no secret that traditional media businesses are struggling. British comedian John Oliver recently dedicated an episode of Last Week Tonight on the consequences of failing local newspapers. At home, Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood has forecast the end to weekday editions of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The economics of digital media is good for mass audiences but more ‘niche’ content (anything that isn’t a cat video) struggles.
#CensusFail is a story that impacted every person in the country. Whether you completed the census or not, you were interested in the story. It was a small inconvenience, sure, but a small inconvenience that everyone would want to click on and read about. If you clicked on a #CensusFail story on Facebook, FB showed you and your friends more #CensusFail stories because of that click.
While it is easy to get frustrated, there are some NDIS positives to #CensusFail.
Connecting people outside the NDIS community with the serious impact of MyPlace
#CensusFail focused Australians on the issue of dodgy government websites. It gave people across the country an interest in what happens when these things fail.
This gave people a personal experience. Suddenly everyone could, in a small way, relate to how completely bonkers it is for the NDIA’s funding portal to be down for over a month.
— Tim M-Smith (@timboms) August 16, 2016
The Power of Community
We believe in the power of community. Supporting each other, being active, sharing information and making sure these challenges are heard and addressed. It can be easy to become isolated and some times people in authority do take advantage of their position to dismiss and minimise problems (especially problems that make them look bad).
By sharing information, engaging and connecting with each other we form communities. We are delighted to have so many people as part of the Care Navigator community, sharing experience and helping each other choose great NDIS providers. Because of you we see the power of community every day.
When it comes to challenges like the continuing failure of the MyPlace portal and the serious consequences of this failure for people’s lives, there is a serious need for accountability and action. Getting real action means being heard as a community.
People like Kelly Vincent MLC in the SA Parliament are working hard to raise the profile of the issue. Federal MP Jenny Macklin has gotten on board and is calling for transparency in reviewing the failure of MyPlace. However you don’t need to be a politician to help grow community support for accountability and action on MyPlace. Click, share, engage, let people know if you’ve been impacted by the MyPlace fiasco. When you share your story with people, you make this real for them too.
#CensusFail helped bring attention to the MyPlace fiasco, but it will soon just be a punch line in bad jokes. Keeping the community connected and committed to accountability and resolution of MyPlace means sharing experiences. This isn’t just some bureaucratic red tape in Canberra that will sort itself out. This is real people making choices between necessary care and paying rent, sole providers without income to support their families at risk of going under.
Share your story, post, like, retweet, together we make a difference. We might even get these coders to take on MyPlace as their next challenge…
The Long term hope for NDIS
#Censusfail touched every one across the country in some way. Whether you were locked out after dinner in the East or hearing the census was over before it began in the West. People across the country were connected to the issue and there was action.
It’s great that #censusfail has helped people connect to the more serious issue of MyPlaceFail. However the great hope for the NDIS is that in future the wider community won’t need a ‘gateway’ to connect with NDIS issues.
Stepping away from block-funded-bureaucracy-selected-services into the brave new world of personal choice is a big step for everyone. While the step is big, it is definitely a big step forward.
Perhaps the greatest part of this step is in building a more connected community that includes people with disability. The NDIS may never have the universal clickbait appeal of cat videos, but we can hope that with the great promise of NDIS people across the country will be more connect to the MyPlace challenges of the future.
For now, we have some more community campaigns shared with us that we’d like to bring to your attention:
- Stop the privatisation of Government Disability Services. Please don’t abandon our most vulnerable citizens.
- Premier, people with disability are not assets to be traded or sold off!
- Malcolm Turnbull: There needs to be more housing for people with disability that is affordable and accessible
- Give people with disability a say in their own future.
Stay connected, support and share. If you have a campaign you’d like a shout out for, share it with us in the comments. And if you know a great provider in your community, give them a shout out and let us all know about them here on CareNavigator.com.au