[Opening title card: Choice Control and the NDIS. Catching up with Dave Peters.]
[Scene: Man sitting in an office with a desk and computers behind him]
I'm Dave Peters. I have been a Community Researcher with the Social Equity Institute, as part of the NDIS Choice and Control Community Researcher-led project.
Question: How did the Choice, Control and the NDIS project get started?
I believe it was the two principal, or the three principal researchers on the project had interest in looking at the experiences of participants using the trial of the NDIS site in Geelong and had difficulty getting sufficient funding interest from funding organisations. So they tackled the idea of engaging with people with lived experience of disability conducting part of the research and there was a lot of interest in the idea of making this project more inclusive, and co-designed, co-produced, which ended up being really beneficial for both us as participants / researchers and for the people who responded to the researching and engaged as respondents in the research. I think it helped in delivering results to funding bodies and state government stakeholders. I think they were, perhaps, even more inclined to listen to people with that lived experience. Suddenly they couldn't discount the research as a solely theoretical exercise because they had the people who were most affected by the outcomes there in the room and they were sort of accountable to us.
Question: Who was on the research team?
We started out with nine, we ended up with eight Community Researchers from different walks of life, some who were in an academic space and others, like me, without really much in the way of academic background. Different types of disabilities that would relate to different types of participants. And pretty much all of this would be eligible for the NDIS when it went to full roll out.
Question – What impact did the Community Research model have?
Really, when it came down to engagement of the respondents, the participants of the research, it really helped build that rapport. I think it helped the rigor and the, I guess, robustness of the responses from the participants because I guess they were no longer talking to a cold, clinical researcher or interviewer, but talking to a peer, someone that could relate to them on a visceral sort of level. I guess there's a bit of assumed knowledge that we took with us and didn't need, perhaps, that background to be explained. But I think the main thing was the rapport and empathy, that, because living that process as well, you know, that inherent understanding that's embraced, I guess, as part of the process. I think that brings with it a huge value.
Question: What were some of the outcomes of the project?
I guess the report drew attention to some of the market concerns. The design of the NDIS was supposed to promote this wonderful free-market model where they would totally revolutionise the offering of services in the disability space for, you know, the market would respond to people's needs with individualised funding and they, the individuals, would have the power and control of their own services and could, through the buying power, could stimulate this free-market and competition and choice. In reality the market has sort of, it's gone the opposite way in that the variety of services that were previously state or federally funded, some have shut down, some of them have withdrawn from the market. So this idea of choice hasn't really eventuated like it was designed to. There were some predictive issues around this idea of choice and control. It's a wonderful idea and maybe in 10 or 15 years time there might be that individual choice, but right now it's a bit of a Clayton's choice where there's really not much power. We might have individualised funding but there's very little in the way of choice. There might be a choice of, you know, coffee with milk or coffee without milk, but that's, you know, you're still having coffee, yeah.
Question: Has being part of the research team led to any new opportunities?
Absolutely, being part of the project has helped me go from a space where I was being involved in a governing body, a steering committee for research in a mental health place to participating in, sort of getting that experience as part of a research team led to me rethinking employment and a community organisation called the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, working in the NDIS team. So that directly led to being recruited for this role. Without that experience I wouldn't have got my current position, opportunity. And for someone who was out of the workforce for 12 years, it has led to regular part-time work, it's amazing.
[Closing scene: Dave Peters typing on a computer]
[Closing title card: Visit our website to learn more socialequity.unimelb.edu.au]