Sunday, September 6, 2015

The looming privatisation and Serco-isation of the NDIS

Rick Morton has written an article in The Australian (sadly behind a pay wall) in response to plans by Serco, the British multinational services corporation, to identify business opportunities and develop a business case to enable Serco to make money out of  Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

Rick is kind enough to quote me in the article.

Rick's article was a response to plans by Serco to employ an NDIS expert to “analyse the ­market and determine what opportuni­ties exist” for Serco.

Serco's plans provide further evidence of the looming privatisation and corporate takeover of the NDIS and the state based systems of disability care and support.

The amount of money (see the graph above) and opportunities available under the NDIS  are immensely attractive to for- profit corporations who see huge opportunities for profit taking.

The $22 billion NDIS has been designed along market lines and market based principles to directly fund eligible individuals who can choose how and when to spend their money on disability supports and services.

Federal and State Governments are keen to open up the disability sector to greater competition from corporate and business providers.

They are using the opportunity presented by the NDIS to privatise care and support for people with disabilities, extend corporate and for-profit delivery of programs and services into disability services and reduce the role of State Governments in providing for the care and wellbeing of people living with disabilities
The Federal Government is also moving to marginalise people living with disabilities from the governance and management of the scheme by replacing the Board of the NDIS with corporate and business leaders. The federal government has placed an advertisement in the Australian Financial Review  for new board members who must have "substantial board experience either in a large listed company or a significant government business enterprise".
Serco sights on NDIS billions
Rick Morton
Social Affairs Reporter

Global services conglomerate Serco is eyeing the $22 billion ­national disability insurance scheme as a source of new profits and is hiring a “subject matter ­expert” to advance­ a business case.

The company — best known in Australia for running the governmen­t’s outsourced immig­­ration detention centres, including a facility on Christmas Island — wants its NDIS expert to “analyse the ­market and determine what opportuni­ties exist”.

It is the first sign the company aims to move into the disability sector. People who will use the NDIS said while the move was “not shocking, it is concerning”.

“We’ve known the NDIS would open up the marketplace for new providers — that’s not new — but it is worrying when we have the big players come knocking because you wonder how that will affect the mix,” one advocate said.

The scheme will grant almost all funding to individuals who qualify and they will choose how and when to spend their money on disability supports, such as new wheelchairs or therapy.

Serco is part of two parliamentary inquiries in Western Australia, into services at its largest­ hospital, the Fiona Stanley Hospital, and prisoner transport. It has con­tracts for non-clinical care at the hospital and for court security and prisoner transport in the state.

It was stripped of its respon­s­ib­ilities for sterilising hospital equipment after a breach last year and another this year in which tools were returned for surgeries with tissue and blood on them.

The Barnett government told parliament last month that it would not renew the Serco transport contract in June.

In Britain, the firm became ­notorious for charging the government to track prisoners it could not find and for misreporting statistics on a health contract. It has been slammed by rights groups for its refugee work. Serco Watch convener Colin Penter said it had a record of “incredibly dysfunctional and dystopian practice”.

“They just see this as a commercial transaction, the lived ­experience of people with di­s­abilities is peripheral,” he said.

Morton notes how Serco is currently facing a major cash flow and financial crises

Serco Global, the parent employ­ing 100,000 on 600 outsourcing contracts, has issued several profit warnings in the past two years. Last year’s accounts showed an operating loss of about $2.7bn.

The SME (subject matter expert) will act as a liaison point between key stakeholders and Serco working to identify and scope opport­unities to support the implementation and delivery of services within the NDIS market,” its job advertisement says.

“You will be responsible for devisi­ng business development strategies and plans for Serco Citizen­ Services that will achieve short, med­ium and long-term profitable growth targets.”

A Serco spokesman said the company always sought to “add value” to the delivery of public service­s. “We have been recognised through audits and awards for safe, effective and innovative ­delivery,” he said

No comments: