Posted: 14 Jun. 2021 20 min. read

Transformation journeys for people with disability and disability service providers

As we approach the new financial year, Boards and Executive teams of social sector organisations are usually set to embark on the delivery of their strategy. This year, however, feels very different, as social sector organisations not only have to respond to the impacts of a myriad of mega trends disrupting the sector, but also navigate the road to recovery post COVID 19. Disability service providers are also reflecting on the initial findings of the Disability Royal Commission and considering the next phase of the evolution for the NDIS, including proposed changes to eligibility.

In this blog, we share learnings from our work with several disability service providers on their strategy and transformation journeys to support people with disability realise their full potential. We look at it from two perspectives – firstly, from the perspective of people with disability, and secondly, from the perspective of disability service providers. It is our hope that some of the insights shared through this blog will provide you with ‘food for thought' as you pause and reflect on your own strategy and transformation journey, and plan for your future.

The current - From achieving stability to exploring goals and aspirations for people with disability

Today, people with disability, especially NDIS participants, are experiencing greater stability and certainty in terms of their support plans and budgets, and are increasingly starting to exercise choice and control over who provides their services. For many participants this is in stark contrast to the pre-NDIS days where only their basic needs were being met and many felt isolated and excluded from society.

The future - Exploring the art of the possible for people with disability

In the future, as participants become more confident in exercising choice and control, they will start to explore their passions, goals and aspirations, in line with the original intention and vision for the NDIS. Excitingly, they will also start to exercise greater independence through their choice of employment, living options and experiences, and pursue the life that they want to live.

Fortunately, with growing societal recognition of the untapped potential and contribution of people with disability (as celebrated in this wonderful video), coupled with advances in technology and innovation, this future is within reach. 

Consider for example, the incredible story of Meiko Georgouras, an artist who suffered a brain injury which left her paralysed, unable to speak but mentally aware. Meiko leverages technology to create visual art through an eye-gaze device that tracks her eye movements and interacts with painting software that simulates oil and watercolour paintings on a digital medium. Meiko now works in an art studio and exhibits in galleries.

Or, Nicolas Hamilton, who is emulating his brother, the seven times world motor racing champion Lewis Hamilton, to become the first driver with a disability to have scored competition points in the British Touring Car Championship.

And, Hotel Etico in the Blue Mountains in NSW, that provides live-in work and training opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, “enabling them to transition to open employment and become more independent”.

Lastly, consider the example of the AbilITy Cisco Networking Academy, a six-month intensive networking technology education program, that has been adapted to support people with all types of disability (intellectual, learning and physical) to learn new skills and secure paid internships with companies that have demonstrated a strong interest in employing people with disability.

These are all exciting examples of the 'art of the possible' for people with disability. And, whilst there is still a long way to go and still much to do to make these ‘bright spots’ more commonplace, we are headed in the right direction and the future is exciting for people with disability, society and disability service providers.

The current - The transformation journey for disability service providers

To mirror this evolution, disability service providers have also been on a journey of transformation - adapting their legacy business models and operations from the impersonal government block funded regime of the past, to the person-centred and market-based NDIS.

Many disability service providers are bedding down their transformation efforts to realise the NDIS’ intended return on investment, whilst also considering what is required in their next horizon of transformation.  Some of the questions that Boards, Executives and their teams are grappling with in the present include:

  • How to truly be customer centric and meaningfully deliver on growing customer expectations, within tightening financial budgets?
  • How to balance longer-term financial sustainability, with the need to invest for the future?
  • How to recruit and retain workforce, amidst growing workforce constraints?

The future - Disability service providers helping shape the future with people with disability

From our experience, leading disability service providers are investing the time, energy and resources to anticipate what’s on the horizon (‘future state’) and design for it today.  They recognise that transformation is not a time-bound project, but rather a ‘way of being’ that needs to be embedded into the DNA of the organisation.

Most importantly, they recognise that to truly support people with disability to achieve their goals and aspirations, they need to deliver services in collaboration with people with disability, and proactively leverage technology, innovation and partnerships to put the power of personalisation in the hands of people with disability.

As your organisation reflects on your strategy and transformation program for the future, we would encourage you to keep your eyes on that ‘future state’. This ‘future state’ gaze will help to keep you focused on the what to invest in (and importantly what not to invest in) to realise that future.

In doing this, we encourage you to contemplate the following question: What would your organisation look like in 5 years’ time if you were going to truly: 

  • Help people with disability realise their full potential?
  • Stretch the goals and aspirations of people with disability?
  • Personalise the experience for people with disability? 
  • Be an organisation recognised as an ‘Employer of choice’, underpinned by a strong culture? 

Then, ask yourselves: Are your transformation efforts fast-tracking your trajectory to be able to deliver on this or are they only incrementally moving you forward? 

Blog series

This blog is the first of a series from the Deloitte Social Impact Consulting Practice on ‘Transformation journeys for people with disability and disability service providers'.

In upcoming blogs, we will share learnings from our work with several disability service providers on their transformation journeys to support people with disability realise their full potential and pursue that desired ‘future state’. Some of the topics that we will explore include:

  • Critical success factors of Transformation programs  
  • Investing in and enhancing Quality and Safety
  • Building the workforce of the future

We look forward to hearing from you about feedback on this topic and other topics that you would be interested in us exploring in the future.

Need Help?

Deloitte Social Impact Consulting

Deloitte Australia’s Social Impact Consulting Practice supports social sector organisations, government agencies and businesses to deliver greater social impact aligned to their vision and mission. Our team is passionate about bringing the latest trends in strategy, technology and innovation from adjacent industries and global players to support social sector organisations to be ‘future fit’ in an increasingly complex, disrupted and competitive market.

We work extensively with disability service providers, supporting them on their transformation journeys as they in turn support people with disability to realise their full potential.

Should you require any support with your transformation journey, please feel free to reach out to either Tharani Jegatheeswaran (Partner – Social Impact Consulting),   Les Hems (Principal – Social Impact Consulting) or Vivian Stephens (Director – Social Impact Consulting. 

More about the authors

Tharani Jegatheeswaran

Tharani Jegatheeswaran

Partner, Social Impact Consulting

Tharani leads Deloitte Australia’s Social Impact Consulting Practice, a dedicated practice supporting social sector organisations, government agencies and businesses to deliver greater social impact aligned to their vision and mission. Drawing on over 15 years’ of consulting experience, combined with a deep passion for social change, Tharani has partnered with many organisations (including, disability, homelessness, and community services providers) on their transformation journeys. Her areas of experience include – strategy, growth, operating model design, operational excellence, and governance. She is passionate about bringing the latest trends in strategy, technology and innovation from adjacent industries and globally to support her clients to be ‘future fit’. Tharani is a Director of UNICEF Australia and the Deloitte Foundation, an Ambassador for Good Return, a judge for the Good Design Australia Awards and a passionate advocate for greater corporate and social sector collaboration.

Les Hems

Les Hems

Principal, Social Impact Consulting

Les is a Principal in Deloitte Australia’s Social Impact Consulting Practice, a dedicated practice supporting social sector organisations, government agencies and businesses to deliver greater social impact. Les has over 30 years’ experience advising NGOs, government and business. His specialties include strategy, organisational performance, operating model design, social innovation, service design, social impact investing, public service reform and social impact measurement. Les supports organisations to achieve greater social impact, operational excellence and commercial sustainability. He works across disability, ageing, family and children, homelessness, justice, regional/remote and First Nation communities. Les has an MBA from Aston Business School and has held senior research positions at UNSW’s Centre for Social Impact, University College London and Johns Hopkins University. Les was a founding member of the Social Impact Measurement Network of Australia.

Dominic Leaver

Dominic Leaver

Senior Consultant, Operations Transformation

Dominic is a Senior Consultant in the Social Impact Consulting and Operations Transformation practice. He works with disability service providers to support them on their transformation journeys. He has experience in strategy development, business and operating reviews, and operating model design across the disability, education, and community services sectors.   He holds a Master of Business Administration (Executive) from AGSM @ UNSW, a Master of Policy Studies from UNSW and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from University Technology, Sydney.