A Word from our CEO - Positives and Difficulties

04 July 2017

Hi again.

I’ve just read through my last blog from 4 May and must say I found it all a bit depressing: key points were:

  • restricted access for hearing-impaired children to the NDIS;
  • a serious breakdown in clinical pathways to specialist providers that threatens children’s outcomes;
  • chronic underfunding;
  • and no solutions in sight.

The rest of the blog was about our advocacy activities with the NDIA and in Canberra.

But no one’s giving up and we are now working ever more closely with other major providers and advocacy bodies to find and implement solutions to prevent children from being negatively affected. To this end, we’ve jointly developed a sector model for the planning, funding and delivery of services to deaf or hard of hearing children and their families and have submitted this to the relevant authorities for consideration and action. We will be meeting with the NDIA to discuss this in mid-July.

On the good news front we are advised that the NDIA will shortly be announcing new and improved access criteria for deaf or hard of hearing children. These will provide automatic entry to the scheme for all children with permanent childhood hearing loss except for a very small number with minimal losses. This is a very positive and welcome development.

Unfortunately, there is nothing positive to report in relation to funding or clinical referral guidelines. Both these matters need to be resolved before the NDIS is rolled out across other states and territories. The accelerated roll-out in NSW has just commenced with the vast majority of children to join the scheme before the end of this year. All these children and their families are at risk of inadequate, inconsistent and underfunded initial NDIS plans.

On 1 June the NDIA reference group on children’s hearing services under the NDIS was invited to review and make comments on the latest NDIA funding proposals (known as reference packages). We are grateful for being consulted but our analysis shows that families will still be short-funded on average between $6-10K per year compared with the actual cost of their services and programs. For a service provider with say 200 or 300 children on service, this amounts to a huge shortfall in annual NDIS-revenue and poses a significant threat to services, children’s outcomes and providers’ financial sustainability. In SA, our Centre has just been through an independent audit of our losses of NDIS-related revenue since the NDIS started here on 1 July 2013, and the certified gross loss is well over $1 million. The NDIA and the Federal Government need to ensure that this does not happen elsewhere.

On a more positive note, these issues are currently under intense investigation by the NDIA, the Federal Government and two Federal Parliamentary committees – with a further parliamentary inquiry just being announced – so we are hopeful that practical solutions are close.

In spite of these challenges, our Centre’s listening, speech and language services to children and families have not been compromised and children’s outcomes will continue to be of the highest order. Highlights of the past two months include:

  • The launch of our 2016 Annual Report which highlighted the amazing achievements supporters have allowed our families and staff to achieve over the last 12 months.
  • The opening of registrations for our annual Loud Shirt Day fundraising event
  • The beginning of the replacement of the roof at the Cora Barclay Centre. This might not seem like a big highlight, but our heritage roof has been leaking for some time. A big thanks to Adelaide City Council and Revolution Roofing for their support in getting this project completed within heritage guidelines.

During Hearing Awareness Week in August Bethany, a past graduate of the Cora Barclay Centre, will be representing our Centre in a moderated discussion with a panel of politicians over breakfast at Parliament House in Canberra. This promises to be a wonderful and fun experience for all participants and a further testimony to the extraordinary outcomes attained by deaf or hard of hearing children in Australia through our evidence-based approach to specialised family-centred, multi-disciplinary, outcomes-focused early childhood intervention (you can read more about Bethany and her story here).

Michael Forwood
CEO, Cora Barclay Centre 


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