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Your partner in the community

Nov 05 2018
Since its inception, Carers Queensland has been a supporter of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) as a positive change for Australia, people with disabilities, and caring families.

As the scheme gradually rolls out across the state, the organisation also embarks on an exciting and new journey.

In partnership with the NDIS, Carers Queensland is delivering NDIS Local Area Coordination Partners in the Community program in five new service areas in Queensland, including Brisbane North & South, Beenleigh, Robina, Caboolture / Strathpine and Maroochydore.

This builds on Carers Queensland’s success in delivering NDIS services in Ipswich, Rockhampton and Toowoomba for over a year and a half now. To get a broader sense of what this involves, we spoke with Carer Queensland’s NDIS Local Area Coordination Partners in the Community Program General Manager, Jocelyn Wills.

What does the announcement of new service areas mean for our organisation?

It means change. We are going through a relatively rapid change now. We are recruiting 475 new staff, which automatically means a lot of logistical and size change. The best thing is that we’re going to be working with new people, who will get to experience what a great organisation Carers Queensland is to work for.
Together, we will work with participants, carers, families and supporters all over South East Queensland as far out to Toowoomba and as far north as Rockhampton.

How does Carers Queensland help people prepare for the NDIS?

As a Local Area Coordinator, Carers Queensland does a lot of work to help people engage with, access and start their planning process and conversations. We have a dedicated Community Development Team who has conversations in the community about what the scheme is and how to access it.
We support people in that process; we provide education and awareness about the scheme and then we help them with their planning conversation, linking them to different community mainstream organisations and services after their plan has been approved.

Once participants have a plan, how long do they last, and can they be changed or reviewed?

Plans are individual. People can have their plan reviewed within six months or up to 24 months, depending on their individual needs. Therefore, if somebody has a degenerative neurological condition such as motor neurone disease, their plans can be really short because their needs change so frequently.
If somebody has stable needs and they know their goals are more long-term, their plans can go for up to 24 months or two years. Mostly, people’s plans are for 12 months and if there is a major change of circumstances they can request that additional change through a review process.

What has been the response from the community?

It’s been a positive response. People have been waiting for the NDIS for a long time. Some of the words used to describe the system pre-NDIS are ‘fragmented’,’ broken’ and ‘unfair’. We’re coming from a place where so many people haven’t had access to the support that they need to live a good life. People have been really waiting for this to arrive. Like with any major reform, there’s a lot of learning that needs to be done by people themselves, but also by the organisation that are rolling this out, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and Carers Queensland. As an organisation, we are willing to look at how things could and should be done, and keep building on those improvements. There will be opportunities to keep improving and making sure that the NDIS fulfils the hopes that everybody had for it when it was first announced.

What feedback have you received from the participants we have supported?

We have satisfaction rates that exceed 95%. Between 96 to 98% of people accessing our services are happy with the way we’re helping them.
Some of the things that we have seen have been life changing for participants and their families and that is incredibly exciting.
It also ties into that learning environment that I mentioned before. It’s not always going to be right for every single participant; we are committed to making that experience positive and if it’s not, it’s important to get that feedback from participants to help them work through the system in a way that will give them the best possible outcome.

When did our new sites start operating? How many Carers Queensland staff across our existing ones?

The first round of new Local Area Coordination sites for Carers Queensland commenced on the 20th of August at our Lutwyche office. We did a cascading start date every week, so for the next five weeks we have been on-boarding new people across all of our different sites. We’re getting as many people on as quickly as we can to start providing the service. Once we are at full staff and capacity, we will have an excess of 600 staff providing NDIS Local Area Coordination services to people in Queensland.

How can non-eligible participants access the support they need?

Carers Queensland’s Local Area Coordination program provides Information, Linkage and Capacity Building (ILC) activities to support people who are not eligible for the NDIS to access community and mainstream supports. Everybody who has a disability, whether they are eligible for the NDIS or not, can contact the Local Area Coordination Program to help them link in to other services in their community.
We also offer Community and Capacity Building Workshops about different topics such as connecting to community and mainstream, employment and volunteering, Your Voice Be Heard or communications workshops. These are supports and services for all people with disability and caring families. We work closely with our Carer Support Services colleagues to provide a holistic and wrap-around service.

For more information, call 1800 242 636 or visit carersqld.com.au/ndis

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