Disability service providers forced to team up to survive
CRACKS are starting to appear at not-for-profit organisations as the state braces for the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The knock-on effect of the looming radical changes have been described by one analyst as a 'sh*t storm' that could see organisations crumble and thousands of existing jobs lost.
At least one Ipswich not-for-profit has already been forced to restructure - casting doubt on the long-term job security of 14 workers - and others are expected to follow suit.
It's the beginning of a significant shake-up in the industry accompanied by suggestions it's too late to be talking about mergers and that some organisations should shut.
Local MPs are more optimistic about the future of Ipswich service providers saying they'll survive on their impeccable reputations.
Last month transport service Co-ordinating Organization for the Disabled in Ipswich Inc, known as CODI, announced it had struck a new deal with Redlands organisation STAR Community Services.
The economic model CODI has been using throughout its decades of service is no longer relevant under the new scheme because of its reliance on government funding.
When the NDIS rolls out next year, dozens of Ipswich organisations like CODI will no longer have access to those funds, with money going directly to individuals registered in the scheme.
The announcement cast doubt over the jobs of the 14 staff working at CODI, but now STAR Communities says those positions are safe for the time being.
STAR officially took over the operational side of CODI on September 1 and there are plans to investigate formal merger options in the future.
Private disability services consultant Roland Naufal, whose role is to help organisations transition, says it's too late for mergers.
According to Mr Naufal, those who haven't already restructured will be trying to do so at a time when they need to be expanding - not reorganising internally.
It's not just the lack of funding options these organisations are facing, there is also pressure to meet a lower price expectation dictated by the government.
Those who can't will be deemed 'too expensive' and are unlikely to survive, Mr Naufal says.
"The scheme doesn't care about the future of organisations," Mr Naufal said.
"It's focused on better outcomes for people with disabilities and that has generated a lot of discussion about organisational survival.
"There's a sh*t storm coming, that's for sure, and the ones that will survive will be those organisations that can meet the new prices and keep clients coming back."
Mr Naufal said affected organisations would struggle over the next 6-18 months, but that the industry itself would boom in Queensland with disability funding set to triple under the NDIS, creating vast opportunities for more jobs, even if some existing positions may be lost.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said organisations like CODI, which were well respected in the region, should have nothing to worry about.
Mr Neumann is heavily involved in the not-for-profit sector in Ipswich and confirmed the anxiety is mounting among the organisations' leaders, however, he says most are well prepared.
"We could see some more consortiums, like this deal between CODI and STAR, popping up," Mr Neumann said.
"There's definitely a shake-up coming but these organisations have been aware of this for some time and these local service providers generally have strong branding and are highly regarded within our community.
"I don't have any real concerns that we will see them all disappearing."