2 February 2024

Woden Community Service ceases NDIS support services, calls for change to price limits

| Dione David
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WCS CEO Jenny Kitchin

WCS CEO Jenny Kitchin said she would continue to lobby governments on behalf of Woden and other agencies impacted by poor pricing for NDIS service providers. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

About 120 NDIS support services participants in Canberra will need to search for a new provider as a leading community services organisation prepares to wind down this part of its operations due to unsustainable financial losses.

Woden Community Service (WCS) will cease providing direct NDIS support services to people with disabilities, citing ongoing financial sustainability issues around pricing structures within the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

WCS has provided NDIS services since 2014, starting with disability programs and expanding to support participants with psychosocial disability, intellectual disability and physical disability in their homes and communities.

WCS CEO Jenny Kitchin said the organisation’s main concern was to support the 120 participants and 30 staff who would be impacted and help them find alternatives.

“We have a very comprehensive program for workers and participants to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. We’re consulting with staff this week and each will have individual options to consider, whether within our organisation in a different role or other organisations,” she said.

“Our participants are working closely with their support coordinators and staff to form their own plan that really focuses on what they want, which kind of organisation they’d like to move to and what we can offer in terms of help and supporting that transition.

“The advantage of making the announcement early is that we have lots of planning time and can ensure every participant has a provider by the time the program winds down.”

READ ALSO Take them in, train them up, send them out: Woden Community Service launches Social Enterprise arm

Ms Kitchin said it was with a “heavy heart” that the WCS board made the decision but that it was obvious the agency could no longer continue to wear the financial losses.

“These discussions have been held over many years. We looked at what had to be cut back in other areas, but can’t continue to do that,” she said.

WCS is not the only agency struggling to provide financially sustainable support to people living with disability in Australia.

In the recent National Disability Services pulse survey, 83 per cent of providers raised concerns about their ability to deliver service using the new price limits. The Ability Roundtable Benchmarking White Paper reported over 68 per cent of participant NDIS organisations reported a loss for the 2021/22 financial year, with a forecast of 75 per cent in 2022/23.

WCS Executive Manager Aged Care and Disability Services Kerry Pearce said staff were “understandably saddened” by the announcement and concerned for their participants.

“First and foremost, they care about the participants very deeply, but we’ve been able to reassure them that we have a good plan,” she said.

“It takes time, effort and extraordinary talent to provide support services to NDIS participants and we could not be prouder of our staff for the work they have done.

“We’re going to support them as we go to find a place for their skills and ensure we communicate clearly along the way.”

READ ALSO Woden Community Service CEO calls for funding for driver education equity

Ms Pearce said WCS staff members would do everything they could to ensure a smooth transition for participants as well.

“There are some excellent NDIS services in Canberra with whom we can work to suit participants’ needs,” she said.

The decision will not affect other programs delivered to the community by WCS, and the organisation will still offer NDIS support coordination and allied health services in the Canberra community.

Ms Kitchin said the organisation also had some “exciting” new projects in the pipeline, including a new social enterprise venture and a community hub at the Westfield Woden Mall.

In the meantime, she would do what she could for the community and other agencies struggling as a result of the new NDIS price limits.

“I know we’re not alone, and on behalf of Woden and other organisations, I’m continuing to lobby the ACT and Federal Government to review the poor pricing for providers across the NDIS.”

For more information, contact Woden Community Service.

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There were many complaints about the way this centre ran their ndis services, their staff have strange views of things, its not a diverse place to work either.

This is for the better, they ran the ndis very badly their senior managers also throw away resumes with aftican names, I dont trust them to run an ndis or mental health service

Tough decision but completely understandable. Despite being there day in-day out for their clients, support staff are the lowest on the price limits with employers spending a fortune to keep up with all the regulations the NDIA keep throwing at them. The upcoming changes are only going to make things so much worse. For everyone involved.

There’s insufficient detail in this article for anyone without inside knowledge to understand what’s going wrong.

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