Casey joins us as she launches her new business, Savant Therapy and Education. Savant is focused on supporting small and regional providers with training and information that assist direct support staff to provide improved services and better outcomes to people with disability.
We sat down with Casey to chat about the positive and negative impacts the NDIS is having on human rights in the sector.
Iplanit: The NDIS is founded in the idea that a person should have the freedom to choose services that best meet their needs. Do you think this fundamental idea is being realised?
Casey: The NDIS has certainly given all participants the opportunity for portability to change services as desired and has even given rise to new innovative platforms for people to narrow right down to choosing their direct support workers who match not only their support needs but can also share common interests, so yes. However, like any large initiaitve, there are areas where there is room for improvement. For instance many providers and individuals are struggling to find staff that are available and equipped to meet consumer needs.
Iplanit: Based on your experience of working with service providers and people with disability, what would you say is the biggest disconnect or misunderstanding on rights?
Casey: I’d have to say that first; there is no common language when talking about rights. Ask 20 people in a room what rights are and you are likely to get several different understandings, and even more likely to get examples of rights rather than a definition in itself. Without a common understanding of the notion, it is easy to see how there can be a disconnect in practice. Second; under the guise of “rights”, the right to basic health, safety and to maintain one’s own dignity can be overlooked, used without consideration or balancing the needs of the two, which can lead to negative outcomes.
Iplanit: Has the NDIS been positive for some human rights and less so for others?
Casey: The NDIS has been positive for people realising their rights to choice and control or for increased participation in community environments and to accessibility to mainstream services and the like.
Then there are those rights that the NDIS can support with the right kind of infrastructure provided by community. One example is the scheme, ‘See the possibilities’, set up by the NSW government which is raising awareness among businesses about the benefits of employing people with disability, simultaneoulsy the NDIS is providing the financial resources needed for people with disability to get the support they need to find the employment opportunity and to make the transition into the position. With more community awareness the NDIS is limitless in the opportunities it can provide to participants to realise their rights just like anyone else in the community.
Iplanit: Disability and rights really gained ground in the 60’s and 70’s with the shift from the medical to social model of understanding disability. What hopes do you have for the future of rights in the disability sector and are these buoyed by the introduction of the NDIS?
Casey: Immediately it is about getting better at providing the financial resources needed to realise a person’s ‘reasonable and necessary’ support needs, not too much, not too little. It is about the sector stabilising, for instance, the structure of organisations offering services as well as the maintenance of the workforce required to carry out those services.
In the meantime the disability sector needs to take a lead role in building inclusive communities for all. The two main ways this could work in practice is for organisations to offer the choice between disability specific services or mainstream services to people with disability and to provide the link, the bridge, between community groups or members of the community with individual people with disability who together can benefit from one another.
Ultimately with the right level of funding and support, the NDIS does pave the way for community participation, integration and inclusion, we need to get better at enacting it.
Iplanit: For service providers interested in supporting a rights-based approach under the NDIS, what are your top three tips?
Casey: Only three?!
The first is basic; only promise to deliver what you can actually deliver! You may initially gain more custom by proposing certain services and quality of service, though if this is unrealistic and you cannot deliver, people will move through service providers until they can find one who can. This is more and more likely as we move into future generations of people with disability.
Secondly, do your homework, learn more about rights and rights-based practice to see how it aligns with your organisations values and practice. Are there things you would keep the same? Are there things that could do with refreshing? Embed rights into your systems and practices and begin to talk the same language within the culture of your organisation and see how this flows through to practice.
Finally, put a rights perspective into every action you take during every working day. Take the time to reflect on your actions; for example, ask yourself, “did that action today work in favour of the persons rights or for human rights in general?” or “could we have achieved a better outcome if we put rights into action first”.
It is great that Iplanit is looking at this topic, bringing it back to the forefront of our minds! I too am invested in this approach and would love to engage in two-way conversation with anyone with insights to offer or questions to ask!
Don't forget to register for our free webinar, "All the Rights Moves: Rights based suports and the NDIS"