Response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry on NDIS costs

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Volunteering Australia's position paper outlines the Commission’s views on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Costs study. The purpose of the position paper is to seek feedback on the Commission’s preliminary conclusions and draft recommendations, and on any additional issues that should be considered before the public release of the completed study in September 2017.

Volunteering continues to play a role central to our identity as a nation, with 5.8 million Australians or 31 per cent of the population volunteering, making an estimated annual contribution of $290 billion to our economic and social good. We define volunteering as “time willingly given, for the common good and without financial gain”; volunteers donate their time freely, but volunteering comes at a cost. The operational cost of delivering innovative and agile volunteering programs that respond to the needs of Australian society is increasing, and requires investment.

There is a considerable cost associated with recruiting, placing, supervising and resourcing volunteers, and this must be adequately funded for volunteer programs to be sustainable under the NDIS.

Volunteering Australia believes that the volunteer workforce needs to be costed and accounted for in the NDIS, given the reliance of volunteers in the scheme. 

Summary of recommendations:

  • Provide specialist training for volunteers, managers of volunteers, and volunteer-involving organisations in the disability support workforce.
  • Assisting small, community-based organisations to transition and adapt to market changes will ensure that those which are specialist in nature will be able to remain in the scheme.
  • Volunteering Australia recommends ensuring that volunteer-involving organisations have a place in servicing the NDIS, given the immense social capital they provide.
  • Allowing participants of the NDIS to access a diverse range of providers, including the social capital derived from volunteer engagement.
  • Volunteering Australia recommends a sustained investment in the unpaid volunteering workforce to ensure the successful rollout of the NDIS.
  • The implementation of a code item number against which volunteering costs can be charged.
  • Volunteering Australia reiterates the need for NDIS costs to consider the role of volunteers, programs, supports and services.

Download the full response from Volunteering Australia.