NDIS training workshop series

This was the third session at the Advocacy Sector Conversations forum held on 1 March 2016 at the Jasper Hotel. Other sessions included:


In this session, Catherine McAlpine, Senior Manager, NDIS Disability Loop at Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) told us about the NDIS workshop series for community organisations and train the trainer workshops for people with disability that have been developed.


Catherine McAlpine presenting at Advocacy Sector Conversations forum






It’s my pleasure to introduce to you Catherine McAlpine, who is the senior manager of Disability Loop, which operates out of AFDO the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations. I think it’s quite fitting given the events of today that this session is all about training. What training now is available for community organisations and for people with disability around getting ready for the NDIS. Let’s hand the microphone now over the Catherine McAlpine.

Thanks Robyn. Thank you very much for having me here today. We advocated for change. We wanted change and now we’re drowning in change. We’re very keen on the changes for individuals with disability but of course for those of us working in the sector, we’re wondering too what do the changes mean for our organisations. And more importantly the impact that the changes on our organisations means to the communities we support.

Some of you are aware because we interviewed you AFDO conducted a GAP analysis on the NDIS and we travelled around Australia last year, talking to people with disability and disability support and advocacy agencies about their experience with the NDIS so far.

That GAP analysis had a particular focus on the information and resources needed by people with disability to better exercise choice and control in the NDIS. It will be no surprise to you to know that two of our key findings were that there were gaps in capacity and gaps in communication. So people with disability reported they didn’t have experience and the competence to fully exercise choice and control and were looking for more training and resource to support them. And to help them get better at choice or control I suppose.

People also reported that they couldn’t access key information resources in the format  that they wanted and in the mode that they wanted.

In particular our work revealed a large unmet need for better more accessible information and training to be delivered in person to people with disability, their families and supporters.

I hope all of you are aware that AFDO launched a website last year called Disability Loop. You can find us at www.disabilityloop.org.au, which includes an E Newsletter and some social media channels and a You Tube channel. This was in response to the reports from people with disability that there is an overwhelming amount of information about the NDIS available online but a lot of it is complicated and inaccessible.

Disability Loop is a collection of resources that aims to give people up to date, easy to find, easy to use information. We use plain language to help everyone make sense of it all. And it includes all those things I just said and workshops and training coming soon. Disability Loop works to improve the accessibility and clarity of online use and resources but that doesn’t resolve the demand for in person training and resources.

Over the last few months AFDO has been developing a series of workshops to fill those gaps. We piloted two of those workshops in December and we thank the people that are here that came to those pilots to give us feedback including allies such as DARU.

Part of the information from the GAP analysis was that people with disability and their families prefer to get their information from trusted sources such as community based organisations. So these might be disability specific, population specific, advocacy organisations. They’re the sorts of organisations I’m talking about. But the organisations themselves let us know that:
A) they had limited resources which meant that they struggled to find or develop information or training resources and
B) that the organisations themselves needed support in building their capacity to adapt to the new NDIS market.

On that basis we’ve developed two streams of workshops.

The first is the Understanding The NDIS Series. This is a train the trainer series where AFDO will run sessions for staff and volunteers of community based disability support organisations. This is targeted at the people who directly provide information to people with disability.

After attending the people that attend, they will then be trainers of people with disability and families. They should have the information and resources they need to then deliver training directly to the communities they support. So as part of that you will get resources, the packs and stuff that go with that. You get access to all of that so you can deliver, any organisation that is a community support organisation that would like to use those resources will be able to do so.

There are six workshops in the Understanding the NDIS Train the Trainer Series. I was going to talk about them but given I’m under pressure I will give you the titles:

  1. How Does The NDIS Work – a bit of an overview. One about Reasonable and Necessary, funnily enough as we heard this morning an issue that needs unpicking.
  2. Planning and Standing Strong – that’s about the planning process but also about the thinking that a person with disability might want to do before they enter into that process. I Have My Plan What Now – talking about learning to be a shopper in the NDIS environment remembering the control does sit with you. This is the bit where you do get to exercise choice and control.
  3. Plan Management Explained
  4. Self-Management. The Self-Management one is just an introduction to self-management it’s not a full how to do yourself self-management. It helps you talk to people about the possibility of maybe self-management isn’t as scary as people might think.

When I was the executive officer at Down Syndrome Victoria, I often had to do fundraising type presentations and the like. One of my favourite stories that I used to tell any time that was applicable was about when I was at a Christmas function. I was sitting next to a mum and her adult son with down syndrome had just moved out of home. In fact both her sons had just moved out of home.

One had moved out, the man with down syndrome moved out on his own and his brother moved out with friends in a two week period. I said how did that all happen and she said he wanted to move out for a while and we had never found anyone to move out with him. Then when we started to go to a  peer support group at Down Syndrome Victoria we discovered these other men that lived by themselves. We thought oh, he could live by himself and Keith said I will live by myself that would be great, I will leave tomorrow.

She said not tomorrow because it might be a good idea to learn how to cook. She taught him a few recipes and he said now I can move out. She said no you need to learn how to clean she taught him how to clean. Then he said I will move out and she said no you need to know how to do the laundry and she taught him how to do the laundry.

She is sitting there with a sad expression and I’m thinking empty nest, two boys leave and I said that’s a big week. And she said yes now I have no one at home to do all my chores.

That’s a true story.  I always tell it to get the laugh and then talk about the serious work the organisations do in building capacity of people with disability.

Now in this case, the story I just told, Keith’s mum did a lot of the capacity building herself in terms of teaching some of those skills. But in the NDIS teaching those skills, if you’re an organisation that helps people build capacity in whatever way, that funding is attached to individualised funding packages. So you’re probably one of the more well informed groups I stand in front but the thing that might be called the plan, the statement of supports or the individualised funding package, this is the area of change that motivated us or that we focused on to do with the second area of workshops.

The second area of workshops is called the Opportunities In The NDIS Series. The aim of this series it to build the capacity of organisations so that they can best meet the demands and changes brought about by the NDIS. So this means that the target audience of this group – so the first one was people who deliver, the people in your organisations who might actually actively provide support and training. This one is pitched at CEO’s, board members, senior staff and particularly at organisations that provide support and information to people with disability and their families.

There are four workshops in this series, the names might still be polished a little:

  1. The first one is Opportunities In The NDIS For Community Organisations. This session explains the changes and opportunities that a market environment brings. It includes information on the gaps and the availability of independent support coordination and independent skills training and it opens a discussion about the pros and cons of becoming a NDIS provider. That’s followed by NDIS Opportunities And Detail. They’ll be always offered as a morning and afternoon session. Just our KPI with DSS said we had to deliver ten and I wasn’t going to do such detailed ones and call them one workshop.
  2. The second one has more detail. It has Introduction to the price guide, categories support, information on providing pricing and in particular opportunities for some questions and discussion on the implication of becoming a provider because that’s a really big change for community organisations.
  3. The third one is about ILC Readiness. So talking about the draft framework, commissioning framework. The consultation started yesterday in Canberra and will continue on in April this year.
  4. The fourth one is Readiness for Local Area Coordinators and how community organisations might look to work with local area coordination within the amount of information that we have to date.

This training is going to probably roll out in April. The reason it has been delayed slightly and part of the reason for the delay is we have wanted to give good quality detail in the workshops.

I don’t know how many of you picked up from Toni’s presentation this morning but that discussion about First Plans that’s a new discussion. That’s not in our workshop right now. We along with a couple of other organisations who we’ve sectored development funding, are waiting for a formal briefing from the agency to make sure that the information we provide is up to date. At the moment we’re really describing the existing system and not what it will look like after the surge as the agency calls it, beginning in July 2016.

As well as that one of the other things that came up is that people with a disability themselves haven’t really been recognised or given opportunities to be resources for the rest of the community, to be places where people can go to for information.

So another part of our project is the NDIS Champions project. This will be about recruiting thirty people with disability across the country to become NDIS champions and we will be looking for fresh faces with strong grass roots, networks in the disability community. Through this program people will be given training that will give them knowledge, confidence, opportunities to provide information about the NDIS to people with disability and the wider community.

Of course we’re doing this because as Toni said, and I think you all know this anyway, there is a lot of people that still don’t understand what the NDIS is, what the implications are for them and of course the broader community is still pretty much at a loss.

The NDIS Champions Program will serve dual purposes. Building the capacity of the NDIS champions themselves and building the capacity of people with disability and the community more general. The timing of that will roll out in the next few months and into a bit of next financial year, towards the end of this year so we overlap while the so called surge is happening.  An important part of that is we will pay the people with disability to do that work.

AFDO recently formed a steering committee for that program. A draft position description has been developed and we hope to start the recruitment in the next few weeks. A place to look out for that is the Disability Loop website and E News.

Another thing we’re working on is a plain language guide to reasonable and necessary. That will be coming.

The last thing that I wanted to talk about cutting paragraphs and paragraphs out, the last thing I wanted to mention and I don’t know how many of you are going to the DANA summit next week. I will also be talking about this in a little more detail there.

One of the things in the ILC Framework, on page 16, there is a paragraph headed Advocacy and Decision Supports. That paragraph I was going to read it out but there is not enough time. It talks really clearly that advocacy will be funded separately to the NDIS. Advocacy funding will not come from the NDIS. That policy decision has been made. I can’t say enough times that so any campaigns about money for advocacy needs to go to State and Federal Governments.

However there is a really important sentence in there and that is – the NDIS will fund decision support, safeguard supports and capacity building for participants including support to approach and interact with disability supports and access mainstream services. That is talking about some of the activities that advocacy agencies do. It might not be talking about advocacy, pure advocacy so much but it’s talking about some of the things advocacy agents do.

What’s not so clear is the way those things are funded is through individualised funding packages. So the way for advocacy agencies to access that is you have to become a NDIS provider. That puts the cat right amongst the pigeons, which brings me back to the workshops, which are designed to have a safe space for that discussion.

This is about service providers need to really change who they are and how they go about business in the NDIS. But also community support organisations are faced with similar and difficult decisions. So keep an eye out. I hope you do come. I think the pilots, we got some really positive feedback about it being a really helpful discussion. On that note I’d better finish up.


We’ve actually got about 5 minutes for question time for Cathy. Sophie if you are here can you grab a roving mic and hands up if you do have a question. I so apologise for having to cut you short.

No problem to me. I did miss out on a little bit of explanation I was going to give you but that’s fine.

Any questions?

Yvonne from Gippsland. I am just wondering with the workshop opportunities, it sounds very exciting, do you have a ceiling on how many people can participate in the training?

I’m not absolutely sure. The bad news is we will only be offering it in capital cities. Under this project the funding will only allow us to run it in the capital cities. We’re trying to find some other sources of funding or even just pay a little bit just for the actual costs of running something to run it regionally. We’re trying to anticipate what the demand might be so we do keep that covered. I’m not sure.

Can I put my name down?

The NDIS I think have allowed for I think a hundred people at each of theirs. I suppose we’re looking at a similar number. Just noting the opportunity series specifically will not be open to service providers, it’s only open to community support organisations, advocacy, disability specific or what have you. The other one we will favour disability support organisations but again we’re interested in information getting to people with disabilities where they are and that includes sometimes in programs.

Just curious where people will find – will you advertise for your champions?

Again, we encourage people to sign up for the Disability Loop E Newsletter that will be the first place. We will mainly advertise nationally. Places like DARU might have it. We’re just conscious of the fact in Victoria we have really good Victoria networks. Some of our national networks aren’t quite as good.

Is it going to be advertised like a job?

Just so we’re clear it’s a small amount of work. They will get paid for the training and when they speak. It’s not like a full time job. But they will be paid to do the training, they will be paid when they speak.

Where can we find the information?

The information will be on the Disability Loop website and some other newsletters. It will be mainly electronic in terms of advertising but you can apply in any way you like.

Thanks Catherine, really interesting to hear about all the training, which I think we will all be happy to have. I suppose wanted to unpack that comment you made about advocacy organisations becoming registered providers and the sticky kind of conflict of interest there could be for us as advocacy organisations and how is that being unpacked? Is it being considered within the NDIS?

That’s a three hour workshop right there really. And in fact that’s why we’ve allowed that time to do that a little  bit.

It will be a specific workshop?

That NDIS opportunities will talk very much about that topic. Where that’s tricky, this is now a personal opinion, not necessarily an AFDO opinion, it is more straightforward for organisations that are disability specific to look at maybe providing skills training and the like. It’s trickier for organisations who are pure advocacy. I’m not advocating for a minute that that’s what people should do. What we’re trying to say is there is a really big gap around support coordination.

You heard Toni talk about support coordination. That’s about people who get a plan and have an allocation of money in there. There is a real conflict of interest problem that providers are providing support coordination. What happens is they steer people funnily enough into the same organisation. There is only a handful of providers we’ve heard of that manage that conflict of interest really well.

Yes, there is a problem if you’re an advocacy agency, you’re worried about getting funding from the organisation that you might want to criticise. You might have to think about structures of your organisation in that regard.

We do that already.

Yeah you do that already. We unpack this in the workshop but there is a thing about need, people with disability needing independent navigators, trusted navigators to navigate this system. Therefore I think it’s for each agency to weigh up themselves there is a conflict of interest issue where you want to have your funding and everything separate or is the fact there is so much unmet demand and there is this massive conflict of interest from the provider level, are we not better to go in and provide supports coordination directly ourselves.

I can’t answer that for your organisation. But what I’m doing is raising the question, saying here is some data, here is some resources, go away and talk about it yourself. When you talk about who should come I would really like to see someone from a board and someone from a senior management come from an organisation. I would really like to see two but I’m not saying you can bring your whole organisation because of space.

It’s obviously a three hour workshop because I’m already going but what about -.


Isn’t it a done deal if you’re registered as a service provider and advocacy funding is separate, you can’t do both? They’re not going to fund you advocacy funding if you’re registered as a service provider.

This is an new area for discussion because NDIS is new and the way you provide support because support coordination is a new thing. That’s another thing for agencies to think about. DSS hasn’t said one way or another whether or not if you only provide – so I’m talking specifically two line items.

I’m specifically talking about skills training, skills and that sort of capacity, disability specific skills training for example and support coordination. Very much talking about the gaps in those two not talking about day service, doing the other traditional closed system type services.

But yes it would be a discussion for each agency to think about itself. I don’t pretend that it’s not complex. But I’d think that organisations need to think about it because from the agencies perspective they’ve been thinking that organisations and advocacy organisations will move into this space because that’s where the expertise is.

The issue whether or not DSS would have a problem with it, that’s a discussion to have with DANA and that’s a discussion for DANA to have with the Federal Government.



Date published:
Fri 11th Mar, 2016