The NDIS and what it means for the business community in NSW

April 18, 2016

From July 2016 NSW will experience the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for people with disability up to the age of 65. The rollout will happen in stages throughout 2016 and 2017 and a detailed schedule of the rollout can be found on the NDIS website.

This scheme will give people with disability the choice and control of what services they would like which will assist them to live a lifestyle of their choosing. Under the old scheme, people with disability were block funded by the government and were only allowed to access services provided by the disability service they received the funding through.

The NDIS will identify the supports the person with disability will need to live their life and looks at achieving individual goals in that person’s life. For example: independence, accessing the community, education, employment and health and wellbeing. The rollout of the NDIS has given consumers choice and control and the ability to purchase products, services and goods from the mainstream market and in turn has made disability services and organisations which were once considered charities and sheltered from the mainstream market a new way to conduct business and compete in an open market place for consumers of their products. Cheryl, who is a NDIS participant from WA said “Will I go out for a coffee? Take the dog for a walk or to the groomers? Visit my family? Attend a writing workshop? Now I have options. It’s so empowering to be able to exercise choice and control over the supports that best suit my needs…” (1)

So what does this all have to do with business???

As people with disability are new consumers to the public marketplace, they now have choice and control of which products, services and goods they would like to purchase. The public marketplace was inaccessible to them before and this now means that a market which makes up 20% of the Australian population or 1 in 5 people are now a potential consumer/ customer for your business! Along with the rollout of the NDIS also comes the NSW Government Disability Inclusion Action Plan (2015). The plan, which focuses on 4 key areas (Develop positive community attitudes and behaviours, Create liveable communities, Support access to meaningful employment and Improve access to mainstream services through better systems and processes) embraces that people with disability have the same rights, to access and be a part of their community. In the four areas that the NSW Government is focusing on will impact local councils as well. Local councils have been advised that they will need to have their own Disability Action Plan in place by 2017, even at a time when councils are under pressure from the amalgamation process, the disability action plan is still a key focus area. Keep an eye out for your local council’s progress on their plans.

One sector that has the potential to increase their customer base is around mergers and acquisitions. While this happens in the mainstream business market, it could also happen in the not for profit sector. “The funding changes are already showing signs of change in the disability and the aged care sectors. Recent articles about Disability Service organisations merging or aged care services rebranding show the fast movers and shakers of these sectors.” (2) Businesses that provide services around mergers and acquisitions will benefit from this.

So what does a business have to do to be able to meet and serve this new market?

Businesses will have to start looking at their own business practices and see whether they are accessible to a person with disability.

Are your products/ services/ goods universally designed or can be used by people with disability? Is your premises and website accessible – can people with disability easily navigate your store and ask for assistance from your staff who have been trained in disability awareness and how to interact with a customer with disability? Have you spoken with your local disability organisation, disability peak body or an access consultant about how to make your business accessible? Has your business looked at creating a Disability Action Plan or joined a network of businesses that are already disability inclusive? These are just some questions that mainstream businesses will have to ask themselves. Disability services and organisations will have to ask themselves some more hard hitting questions as coming along with the NDIS are new products that have been developed with the consumer opinion in mind. One of these is a website that has been developed in Melbourne called Clickability. It is a consumer based site where the user is able to rate the service and experience that they receive when accessing an organisation. It is the ‘TripAdvisor for the disability sector’. So far the app has over 500 registered and 100 unregistered users providing reviews on the disability services listed on the site and Clickability will be making its NSW debut in the next few months.

In light of all of this, businesses shouldn’t be afraid of advertising their business to people with disability. This is a new market for people with disability and they want to see what is out there for them to access. It also makes good business sense to expand your market and review your current practices to stay fresh, relevant and be disability aware to the people you are serving. This way you can be confident that your goods/ products and services are accessible to everyone in your community.

So when do businesses have access to this market?

The NDIS has had some trial sites across NSW already but the full rollout will start in July 2016. Some of the first regions to receive the NDIS are:

  • Northern Sydney

  • South Western Sydney

  • Western Sydney

  • Central Sydney

  • Hunter New England

  • Nepean Blue Mountains

  • Southern NSW

But businesses don’t have to wait to serve customers with disability until the rollout of the NDIS. People with disability access our community and businesses every day and are always on the lookout for accessible businesses, products and services that they can use.

If you’re a business that would like to access this existing market and become disability confident but don’t know where to start or how to go about finding information on making your business accessible and inclusive, Speak to our Disability Inclusion Promotions Officer Sean Willenberg. His services are free of charge to NSW Business Chamber members and Chamber of Commerce affiliates and is here to guide you through making your business available and accessible to people with disability.

You can contact Sean on 02 9458 7928 or

- See more at:

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