Although CareWest has spent the past 12 months preparing for the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in July, concerns have been raised about what it will mean for smaller regional areas.
CareWest CEO Tim Curran said its services in regional cities such as Orange and Dubbo helped cover the costs of loss-making services in smaller more isolated regional areas.
Despite making changes and training staff for the NDIS, he was concerned more services would open in regional cities, leading to increased competition that could cause funding losses, reducing the capacity to provide for loss-making services.
“The way in which the NDIS works is very different to the way the state funded disability service worked in the past,” Mr Curran said.
“Now a participant gets the funding and can purchase what they want.
“What it means is there’s no certainty and security for disability service providers.”
Mr Curran said this will mean traditional service providers have to learn how to market the services and he’s expecting a rush of new market entrants.
While he said towns such as Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo will be OK, there may be a disruption to rural communities.
He said CareWest has staff in 54 local government areas and even towns the size of Wellington may be affected.
“What I fear will happen is all these new providers, most will be for profit providers, they will be very keen to set up in metro and regional centres but much less in regional towns and isolated areas where there would be less money,” Mr Curran said.
“CareWest and for purpose organisations deliver services and we are happy to subsidise that contribution from regional centres.
“Our fear is there will be more competition in regional centres so we will not be able to subsidise loss-making services.”
A Department of Social Services spokeswoman said the National Disability Insurance Agency recognises additional strategies are required and initial work is underway on a rural and remote strategy.
She said services delivered in remote areas have higher NDIS price limits to accommodate additional service delivery costs and as the ‘market steward’, the NDIA will monitor growth of the disability services market, and where necessary intervene, to ensure all NDIS participants can access quality support services, regardless of where they live.