Tag Archives: NDIA

NDIA push for innovative ICT

I previously mentioned the briefing I attended by the National Disability Insurance Agency and Dept of Human Services on their new ICT plan on 16 June. It is clear there were some important messages in there that the wider sector may want to hear. Unfortunately the Agency has taken down links to the event although they’ve sent out a copy of their slides to participants.

Sean Fitzgerald did a great job as MC and provided a very good introduction to the role of AT in his life and full participation.

David Bowen (NDIA CEO) talked about the ‘NDIA Journey to Date’. One slide caught my attention as current hot topics:

David Bowen's sense of what the Agency has learnt

This reflects the NDIS Progress Report: Year 2.  The 2015-2016 Federal budget announced $143M over 4 years to provide the NDIA with an ICT system to support full rollout. So ICT is a big ticket item at this point, but the Agency is very conscious (I think) that some participants and their advocates have felt a bit ‘out of the loop’ as things have developed. So ‘co-design’ is a bit of a buzzword, and the Agency (and the Federal Government Departments generally) are looking for ways to influence and ‘gearing’ their investment.  ‘Facilitate, shape and inform’ based on the evidence, and intervene only when necessary is seen as the way NDIA will deliver on its objectives when the markets have matured.

This was reflected in the presentation by the Dept of Human Services (DHS; currently responsible for Medicare, Centrelink and many of the Federal Government ‘front office’ interactions with citizens) who are designing & planning the ICT solution. The DHS spoke of its capacity and experience, but then shifted gear to speak of it’s Dandelion program for traineeships for people with disability in their ICT Hub, co-design and testing with participants, and innovation for future human-machine interfaces.

Esther Kerr-Smith encouraged the ICT industry to bring their innovation and technology to enhancing the experiences of participants in technology they encounter every day. Rather than specialised technology (AT), can aspects be built into mainstream technologies and system? The NDIA is exploring ways to help catalyse innovation, and then create a ‘pull through’ of new technology with their (and government’s) purchasing power. She outlined the innovation strategy I’ve previously mentioned. The ICT program was seen as a ‘central platform’ to engage the “eMarket” as they’re calling it:

Diagram of the E market platform from the NDIA slides

So there is lots going on, but this seems to set an agenda for the way the Agency is moving forward.  If you are really interested in this stuff, I’d suggest getting in contact with the NDIA ICT team for any future updates they may put out.

NDIA starts to open up about AT in NDIS

On Wednesday 10th June I was able to discuss the current state of NDIS work in AT with the relatively new General Manager, Market and Sector Division, Esther Kerr-Smith. It followed my letter to the CEO of NDIA in April .

Essentially Esther was briefed by the CEO to accelerate the NDIA AT discussion and readiness. The aim was to make sure that ‘technology is a catalyst for innovative solutions and enhanced efficiencies for NDIA assistance to participants.’ After 3 months or so getting a handle on things, talking to staff and others, Esther is now gearing up on developing an AT Strategy.

The Strategy was likely to have three parts:

  1. Innovation – using NDIS as a catalyst for innovation in AT, and its use to benefit participants.
  2. Choice & control – developing and enhancing guidelines, addressing issues for information, trial, choice etc.
  3. Sourcing & procurement – drawing on the earlier AT Framework paper, but now under further test from Boston Consulting.

Matthew Massy-Westropp was appointed through to the end of the year to bring a broader perspective with domain knowledge and is focused on developing the component parts of the strategy. A key part of this is the engagement approach – which the NDIA wants to make more focused on hearing from participants.

Aspects of these new approaches are being considered/approved for progress by the Board, and the Agency will now be increasingly opening this up to consultation/engagement. On Tuesday morning this week (16th), the NDIA had a briefing on ICT aspects for their systems. Interestingly Esther and David Bowen both made the point during the session the focus was on innovation to assist participants engage personally with the Agency, and also to catalyse new support options (think ubiquitous accesssible ICT, Smart AT etc.) for them using ICT (the webcast is likely to go online in a few days).

Sean Fitzgerald was MC for the event and, apart from my misgivings about him narrowing the definition of AT, did a great job in highlighting the opportunities and issues in ICT to a relatively mainstream audience. As this was Microsoft, Google, big & smaller ICT businesses, it put them on notice that the tenders/procurement would have a strong emphasis on solutions to empower people with disability (and involve them in the innovation & delivery aspects). It also highlighted that both Dept of Social Services (DSS) and Dept of Human Services (DHS – who are in charge of the underlying project management of the ICT build drawing on their experience in Medicare/Centrelink) were also overtly thinking about how they could more directly connect with people with disability, and not rely on carers or others as a ‘go between.’

This is probably the first ‘cab off the rank’ info sharing event, and Esther indicated to me there are other planned events/meetings in the second half of the year with AT presentations, but also including forums/meetings to develop and refine the NDIA approach to AT. The next opportunity is a Q&A session on 26 June. group-418449_640

So expect more to emerge and I think yet again, we need to remember to be listening to consumers of AT and encouraging them to speak up as the Agency seeks their input.