The Tune review into the National Disability Insurance Scheme should have the government very concerned, not just about the NDIS, but about its collective capacity to deliver government services more broadly, writes Joe Zabar in The Canberra Times.
The release of the NDIS review during one of the government’s largest mobilisations of support to bushfire-affected communities and businesses may prove to be a mistake if the public witnesses further evidence of a bureaucracy lacking agility and lacking a person-centred focus in the delivery of essential services.
Government programs, state or federal, are all too often maligned for being overly bureaucratic and cumbersome for those accessing them. Criticisms aired by the users of the aged care, disability and health systems have one familiar theme – they are difficult to navigate for those unfamiliar with them.
Despite decades of experience in designing and implementing significant public policy service systems such as the NDIS and My Aged Care, review after review shows that governments continue to get it wrong.
For schemes like the NDIS, one might argue that many of its issues are teething or transitional in nature. In reality, the NDIS and aged care systems in particular have deeper flaws that go to the heart of their design and those charged with their development.
The failures highlighted in the NDIS and aged care systems are not simply a result of omission or poor performance; they are structural. Those charged with the design and implementation of government systems all too often fail to prioritise the needs of the user, instead giving priority to the development of a system that is government-centric in design.
Addressing this problem post-implementation is difficult and costly, likely requiring a complete overhaul of the system’s user interface. Such an overhaul requires money and, more critically, a cultural shift in the government’s thinking around unnecessary red tape and regulation.
Joe Zabar is deputy chief executive of Catholic Social Services Australia.
NDIS users pay the price when systems serve the bureaucracy (The Canberra Times)