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How did Yooralla become organisational ready for the NDIS?

7 Apr 2017, by Informa Insights


In the lead up to the 8th Annual National Disability Summit we have been joined by Jennifer Morgan, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Yooralla to discuss the implementation of the NDIS.

Jennifer will be facilitating a post conference half day workshop on Wednesday 10th May with Cathy Willmot, Senior Clinician and Speech Pathologist and Jessica Kuek, Physiotherapist from Yooralla.


With such a huge change in policy and funding for the disability sector, can you briefly explain how the NDIS has affected Yooralla?

Yooralla’s vision is a world where people with disability are equal citizens, it was an early voice in the need for a national disability insurance scheme and is excited for the opportunities that we are seeing within the newly emerging funding environment.  As we have been involved from the beginning our strategic direction over the past few years has been driving service transformation and design to operate nimbly and flexibly whilst providing quality services that uphold and safeguard the rights of people with disability. We are seeing changes across the board in the types of services people are asking for, the ways that they want these services delivered and the range of emotions people are experiencing as they navigate this space. Our values are at the centre of everything we do for our clients, their families, and their support network. Yooralla’s five-year strategic plan outlines our approach and strategic priorities from 2014 to 2020. Our strategic plan named SMART Choices reflects our need to continue driving service transformation, to maximise the value we add for people with disability in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) environment, and to remain competitive as the speed of change accelerates.


How did Yooralla become organisational ready for the NDIS?

To prepare for the transition to NDIS, a lot of work went into defining all our services and reviewing what would need to change and what they would look like in the new world. As part of our continual quality improvement, we modernised our systems and reporting across the organisation. The challenge of uncertainty and the delays in roll out of the scheme have been a challenge for many service providers. At Yooralla, we have focussed on supporting our customers through this change. This has included web based materials and information but also accessible planning tools that assist people in thinking about their whole of life needs and what supports they need not just through their day but through the year and what goals they have for their future.


What support or training has been provided to frontline staff during a time of potential uncertainty for some?

Yooralla has invested in a range of activities to support our staff to understand both the changes and the opportunities that are arising in a new funding environment. The relationships our staff have with our customers is key to ensuring that we are all ready to face these changes together and to work through issues together in order to ensure the best outcomes for our customers and people in their lives.


How has the NDIS affected those who use the services provided by Yooralla?


You are presenting an interactive post-conference Workshop on Wednesday 10th May titled, ‘Nothing for Me, Without Me – Shared Decisions in Complex Spaces, Making the Credo a Reality’. Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from the workshop, and why should they attend?

The focus of the workshop is to assist practitioners in navigating the space between the rights of the person to make choices in relation to their own life, and situations where those choices may place the person and others at risk of harm. People with disability should be at the centre of all decisions about what they want or need in their life.  This ability to exercise choice is a basic human right.   When exercising this right however, it can be much harder for people with disability to have their decisions supported well if there is the perception that this choice places the person, or practitioner supporting the person, at risk. As a result, the balance of duty of care and dignity of risk can be a difficult space for people with disability and allied health to navigate together.

The workshop explores the line between the rights and responsibilities of all involved: Where a practitioner identifies predictable risk and recommends a risk mitigation strategy, but the customer, who is fully informed of the risks, continues to make a choice contrary to this recommendation. In our clinical practice, we work with a lot of individuals who are fully capable of understanding what the safe choice is, or understand why a practitioner is making a recommendation, but their values or what is important to them guides their final decision. This can range from someone who:

  • needs physical assistance to eat and drink and chooses to mix their medication with alcohol
  • chooses to eat pizza when the recommendation is minced and moist food consistency
  • wants to continue to use a standing hoist, even when their abilities are declining and other options would be safer.

The team supporting a person with disability can often become anxious when there is risk identified, as they are actively facilitating a choice that may result in harm to that person.   Too often this anxiety has resulted in decisions being made for the person, to the detriment of what is important to that person.  This workshop will provide practitioners with the opportunity to explore how to better balance dignity of risk and duty of care responsibilities for the people we support.


The 8th Annual National Disability Summit is taking place on 8th -9th May 2017. You will be attending both days, and hosting a workshop with 2 members of the Health & Wellbeing Therapy team on 10th What elements of this popular annual event are you most looking forward to, and why?

The line-up looks great and I am really interested to hear all the various stories from across Australia on the implementation of the NDIS. It has been a great journey for us so far and we are very excited about the opportunities for the people we support moving into the future but also the changing face of supports that we provide. Being better able to fund needs but also to address capacity building and skill development more holistically is a great space both for our customers but also for a workforce.

For further information about the National Disability Summit please visit here.


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