Disability

People with disability have the same rights as others to participate in the community, exercise choice, access opportunities, have their inherent dignity respected, and live free from discrimination, abuse and neglect. Governments have a responsibility to provide supports that enable people with disability to participate fully in social and economic life.

Disability policy is currently undergoing a once-in-a-generation transformation across Australia. With the agreement to a National Disability Insurance Scheme, the centre of the system will shift from programs to people with disability. Individualised funding and person-centred planning will give people choice, voice and control in their lives and in the services and supports they access. Local Area Coordinators will help ensure people with disability can access mainstream and community services.

National Disability Insurance Scheme trial sites have been established in several jurisdictions. Elsewhere, governments and specialist disability services are working to ensure the sector is ready for the new market-based system and has sufficient capacity to meet the needs of people with disability, their families and carers in all locations. Efforts are also focused on ensuring people with disability have the opportunity to participate fully in their local communities, for example, by working with mainstream and community organisations, ensuring equity of access, and supporting employment. Meanwhile, governments continue to provide support for carers. 

 


Project examples

Click on any of the following projects for more information.

Evaluation of the Client Monitoring and Review System

(Department of Family and Community Services, 2015-16)

Evaluation of the Client Monitoring and Review System

(Department of Family and Community Services, 2015-16)

The Client Monitoring and Review System was established in July 2011 to facilitate the identification, escalation and independent review of clients with disability who presented challenges for Districts and Programs to manage. Prior to this, there was no single system to identify complex cases or provide guidance on appropriate responses and how these should be monitored and measured. ARTD has been engaged to evaluate the System to assess the extent to which it is an effective approach to complex client management and the extent to which it can be transferred to an NDIS context. We are using a mixed-methods approach, drawing on existing data recorded as part of the Independent Advisory Panel review and client monitoring processes and collecting new data from staff, Panel members and clients and their families through surveys and interviews. In the final stage, we will consult with staff, other government agencies and non-government organisations in the Hunter to identify key considerations in transferring the model, or aspects of it, to the NDIS environment.

Evaluation of the National Dementia and Referral Service Helpline

(Alzheimer's Australia NSW, 2015-16)

Evaluation of the National Dementia and Referral Service Helpline

(Alzheimer's Australia NSW, 2015-16)

The National Dementia Helpline and Referral Service (Helpline), which is funded by the Department of Social Services, is a free and confidential service, open to people with dementia, their families and carers and health, allied health and aged care professionals. The Helpline delivery model changed in July 2015, when Alzheimer’s Australia NSW took on responsibility for managing the national service, replacing the previous model operated from each state and territory office. Alzheimer's Australia NSW commissioned ARTD to evaluate the first year of operation of the new model to inform any necessary adjustments or improvements throughout the year and assess its effectiveness and efficiency.

ARTD began the evaluation with a review of the literature on helpline models to inform methods and assessment of the service, and a scan of the service landscape in which the Helpline is operating to identify its distinct role in the aged care and disability service systems, which are undergoing significant reform. The review is drawing on administrative data to assess the reach of the Helpline and timeliness of responses to calls and emails and collecting new data through interviews with staff from the Helpline staff and Alzheimer’s Australia state and territory offices (which receive referrals from the Helpline) and phone and email surveys of those who receive support from the Helpline, including people with dementia and memory issues. Interim reporting is informing ongoing refinements to service delivery and the final report, due in August 2016, will inform Government decision-making about ongoing funding.

Consultation on NDIS quality and safeguards

(Department of Social Services, 2015)

Consultation on NDIS quality and safeguards

(Department of Social Services, 2015)

The NDIS represents a major change to how services are funded and delivered. It requires a new national approach to quality and safeguarding to ensure consistency across states and territories and replace quality and safeguarding measures currently managed through state-based legislation and funding agreements between providers and government agencies. Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments are developing a national approach to quality and safeguarding for the NDIS. Because this represents a significant regulatory policy, with the potential to impact on businesses, community organisations and individuals, they need to prepare a Regulation Impact Statement, which involves consultations and a cost-benefit analysis of a range of potential options. ARTD managed the public and provider consultation—organising and facilitating a series of meetings in capital cities and regional locations in all states and territories. We worked with venues, Auslan interpreters, hearing loop suppliers and others to ensure the public meetings were accessible to people with disability, as well as their families and carers, service providers, peak bodies and other representatives. At the end of the consultation period, we synthesised the findings from all consultation mechanisms (an online forum, provider workshops, targeted workshops and formal submissions) to inform decision-making. Following this, we facilitated a workshop between representatives from Commonwealth and State and Territory Government agencies on directions for the Framework.

Review of the Principles for managing the intersects between the NDIS and mainstream sectors

(Department of Social Services, 2014-15)

Review of the Principles for managing the intersects between the NDIS and mainstream sectors

(Department of Social Services, 2014-15)

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Act 2013 and the NDIS Rules provide the legislative framework for decision-making about the reasonable and necessary supports to be funded for NDIS participants. The Principles to Determine the Responsibilities of the NDIS and Other Service Systems and Applied Principles and Tables of Supports for the eleven mainstream interfaces were established to clarify when supports should be funded by the NDIS and when they should be funded by mainstream services. ARTD was engaged to support a review of the Applied Principles and Tables of Supports based on initial experiences in trial sites. We analysed documented feedback, facilitated a series of national workshops (by telepresence) with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and relevant government agency representatives from all jurisdictions on each mainstream interface, and interviewed other stakeholders. Following the workshops, we developed summary reports on the mainstream interfaces and circulated these for further input. A final workshop confirmed directions and informed our final report, which outlined key findings and evidence-based recommendations for the next steps, as well as detailed suggestions for individual items in each of the mainstream interfaces. The report was used to inform the refinement of policy for the mainstream interfaces.

Evaluation of the Focus on Early Childhood Inclusion project

(Early Childhood Intervention Australia (NSW Chapter) Inc., 2014-15)

Evaluation of the Focus on Early Childhood Inclusion project

(Early Childhood Intervention Australia (NSW Chapter) Inc., 2014-15)

The Focus on Early Childhood Inclusion project is a capacity-building project for the early childhood sector, which aims to improve the inclusion of children with disability in their home, early childhood services and the community. ARTD was engaged to develop an evaluation framework and plan for the project, working closely with ECIA NSW, the project steering committee, and representatives from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (the funding agency). We first agreed on a program logic, identifying the project’s short- and long-term outcomes, then developed an evaluation framework and plan based on this.

ARTD was subsequently commissioned to undertake a formative and impact evaluation of the two-year project. The evaluation includes interviews and discussions with key stakeholders, including early childhood intervention services, early childhood education centres, pre-schools, program staff, regional representatives from ADHC, and families of young children with disability. We also undertook two state-wide surveys of early childhood intervention services. Reporting will support ECIA NSW to review and improve its delivery of the program as required and support ECIA and ADHC to assess the extent to which the project met its objectives.

Options for Home Care intake and assessment during transition to major system reforms

(Home Care Service of NSW, 2014)

Options for Home Care intake and assessment during transition to major system reforms

(Home Care Service of NSW, 2014)

The Home Care Service is the largest provider of home-based community care services to older people and people with disability and their carers in NSW. The Referral and Assessment Centre manages the majority of intake and assessment for the service; the Aboriginal Access and Assessment Team manages intake and assessment for Aboriginal Home Care. In March 2014, ARTD was engaged to review the options for Home Care intake and assessment during the transition to the national Aged Care Gateway and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We reviewed policy documentation and consulted with stakeholder groups to develop options and criteria for assessing their appropriateness and viability. We then prepared a discussion paper and workshopped the options with key stakeholders. Our final report provided recommendations to inform the management of intake and assessment for Home Care over the transition period.

Review of the performance framework for the Disability Employment Assistance Program

(Department of Social Services, 2014)

Review of the performance framework for the Disability Employment Assistance Program

(Department of Social Services, 2014)

In 2012, the Disability Employment Assistance section in the Department of Social Services identified the need for a new set of performance indicators for Australian Disability Enterprises to prepare them for the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which will change the way services receive funding. In March 2014, when the new performance indicators had been in place for about 18 months, ARTD was engaged to conduct a post-implementation review. We assessed the performance indicators and their implementation to date through a review of key documents, analysis of current performance data, interviews with staff in the Disability Employment Assistance section and contract managers, and a survey of Australian Disability Enterprises. The final report included a refined performance framework for possible inclusion in future funding agreements and advice on the use of targets, benchmarking, and communication of the refined framework and monitoring results.

Evaluation of Cultural Diversity Strategic Framework

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Evaluation of Cultural Diversity Strategic Framework

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Under the NSW Multicultural Policies and Services Program, government agencies and statutory bodies are required to submit multicultural plans to the Community Relations Commission and deliver annual reports on implementation. ARTD evaluated Ageing, Disability and Home Care’s plan for 2010–13. We analysed administrative data and consulted with the agency’s internal and external advisory committees, staff in different regions and representatives of funded services. Our report identified implications for how future plans should be structured, actions to be used to support cultural diversity, implementation supports to be provided, and data required for future evaluation.

Evaluation of place-based planning for disability services

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Evaluation of place-based planning for disability services

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

The Sector Planning Framework was introduced in 2012 to shift ADHC from centrally-driven, program-based planning towards place-based planning that directly responds to the needs of people with a disability, their families and carers. ARTD was engaged to design and conduct a statewide evaluation over three years in partnership with ADHC staff in all regions to build their capacity for monitoring and evaluation and inform ongoing development and implementation of the Framework. To design the evaluation, ARTD worked with staff using teleconferences and videoconferences. We then continued to work with local staff to collect data through teleconferences and face-to-face meetings. Stage 1 of the evaluation focused on initial implementation, and used a literature scan, survey of regional staff, interviews, and case studies in four communities. The interim report identified key learnings about the introduction of the community-based approach to planning. In 2014 ADHC ended implementation of the Framework because reforms warranted a new FACS-wide approach, and the evaluation ended.

Review of Ability Links NSW Hunter Procurement Projects

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Review of Ability Links NSW Hunter Procurement Projects

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Ability Links provides people with disability, their families and carers a locally-based first point of contact to help them connect with supports and services in their communities; and supports communities to become more inclusive. It is a new service model being rolled out in the context of transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. ARTD was engaged to review ADHC’s procurement processes for the Generalist and Aboriginal services in the Hunter, focusing on the innovative components of the process, including the Ability Links NSW Taskforce recommendations. We used a desktop analysis of key documents and interviews with the Ability Links team in FACS. The review found the innovative processes were effective and will inform future procurement at FACS and in the broader human services sector.

Evaluation of Unit Costing and Cash Flow projects

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Evaluation of Unit Costing and Cash Flow projects

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2014)

Deloitte was funded to develop a range of financial management tools and resources to assist not-for-profit disability service providers to transition from block funding to individualised funding. ARTD was engaged to conduct two evaluations: one of the unit costing tools and resources and one of the cash flow analysis products. We attended steering committee meetings, analysed data collected by Deloitte and interviewed key stakeholders, including service providers involved in piloting the products. The findings supported decision-making about the usefulness of the products for different providers, as well as how best to disseminate them. 

Evaluation of Community Asset Building Project

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2013-14)

Evaluation of Community Asset Building Project

(NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2013-14)

The Community Asset Building project was offered by a not-for-profit community development financial institution (Foresters Community Finance) to support the non-government sector in NSW prepare for person-centred approaches and changing funding mechanisms. ARTD conducted an evaluation to explore the effectiveness of the project in increasing awareness of alternative forms of finance and the benefits of community asset building. We used two online surveys and follow-up telephone interviews to explore the experiences of participating organisations. Based on the findings, ARTD advised ADHC on the soundness of this approach for non-government organisations interested in asset development.

Development of best practice model for diagnosis support

(Ageing, Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012-13)

Development of best practice model for diagnosis support

(Ageing, Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012-13)

The time of a child‘s identification as at risk of diagnosis with disability can be an emotional one  for families as they struggle to come to terms with what it means for them, identify and access the services they need, and develop natural supports. Ageing, Disability and Home Care’s EarlyStart–Diagnosis Support Program was established to meet the needs of families around this time. In 2012, after the program had been operating for three years, ARTD reviewed the program model in light of emerging research evidence, the experience of initial implementation, and the evolving policy context, in particular the transition toward the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The first step was a scan of the available literature on diagnosis support and a report on service models, outlining implications for the program. Next, we consulted with service providers, families and other stakeholders and provided a second report, which identified how existing program delivery compared with the research evidence and how it fit in the emerging policy context, and made recommendations for refining the program model. In the final stage, we worked with staff in the Directorate and service providers to develop a logic and outcomes framework for the program and a Practice and Induction Package to support consistent and effective delivery of the program across NSW and continuous improvement.

Evaluation of Ageing Disability and Home Care's Sector Planning Framework

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2013-16)

Evaluation of Ageing Disability and Home Care's Sector Planning Framework

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2013-16)

The Sector Planning Framework was introduced in 2012 to shift ADHC from centrally-driven, program-based planning towards place-based planning that directly responds to the needs of people with a disability, their families and carers. In February 2013 ADHC  commissioned ARTD to design and conduct  a state-wide evaluation over three years. The project was in partnership with ADHC staff to build their capacity for monitoring and evaluation and inform ongoing development. Stage 1 focused on initial implementation, and used a literature scan, survey of regional staff, interviews, and case studies of implementation in four communities. The interim report identified key learnings about the introduction of the community-based approach to planning. In 2014 ADHC discontinued implementation of the Framework because the many reforms warranted a new FACS-wide approach, and the evaluation finished.

Research into the employment experience of people with disability in the NSW public sector

(Ageing, Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012-2013)

Research into the employment experience of people with disability in the NSW public sector

(Ageing, Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012-2013)

EmployABILITY: A strategy to increase the employment opportunities for people with a disability in the NSW public sector 2010-2013 sets out the NSW Government’s strategic intent to increase employment opportunities for people with a disability in the NSW public sector. ARTD conducted research with employees with disability, their managers and HR staff to provide a better understanding of the experience of people with disability employed in the NSW public sector. We used a case study approach, recruiting participants from six units within six NSW Government agencies. To protect their privacy, employees with a disability were able to register their interest in being interviewed for the research through an online system and decide whether or not we could interview their manager. This research was part of a broader project the Public Service Commission and Ageing, Disability and Home Care used to inform policies and practices for people with a disability in the NSW public sector.

Evaluation framework for new approach for disability service providers

(National Disability Services, 2013)

Evaluation framework for new approach for disability service providers

(National Disability Services, 2013)

The Person-Centred Approaches Program aims to move all NSW disability services toward a person-centred approach in line with the goals of Stronger Together 2 and the principles for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. ARTD was engaged to develop an evaluation framework for the program. Using a review of documents and a workshop with stakeholders, we developed a program logic, then used this as the basis for a monitoring and evaluation for the next three years.

Evaluation of four intervention models for children with autism and their families

(Aging Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012)

Evaluation of four intervention models for children with autism and their families

(Aging Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2012)

The Directorate funds four early childhood intervention programs for children with autism (aged up to six years) and their families. These differ in philosophical orientation, delivery and intervention focus, but are based on best practice principles and have the same key components. Over two years, ARTD conducted a process and outcomes evaluation focused on comparing the outcomes for children across the four programs, as well as their cost effectiveness. ARTD interviewed parents, held focus groups with program staff and analysed service data. We built logistic regression models to explain the variance in children’s outcomes on the basis of program and child characteristics. ARTD’s work provided the Directorate with information to inform decisions about the future direction of programs for children with autism and their families.

Evaluation of respite support for carers of young people with severe and profound disabilities

(Department of Social Services, 2011)

Evaluation of respite support for carers of young people with severe and profound disabilities

(Department of Social Services, 2011)

The national Respite Support for Carers of Young People with Severe or Profound Disability program provides short-term unplanned respite to this group of carers, and complements state-based respite. It is delivered through Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres. ARTD’s evaluation of the program used a comprehensive mixed-methods design, drawing on existing administrative data and collecting new data. Methods included a survey of a random sample of 1,000 carers using the program, a survey of 55 centres delivering the program, visits to nine centres, interviews and discussion groups with program stakeholders, and a review of key program documents and activity data.  The project also included a review of current and alternative service delivery options for this and another respite programs (the Young Carers Respite and Information Services Program). We used activity-based costing to review the costs of delivering the two programs under the current model—that is, through Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres—and to estimate the additional costs that would be incurred if a new model was used. We also interviewed key stakeholders (including program staff, relevant peak bodies, and Commonwealth Government and state and territory government representatives) about the benefits of continued delivery through Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres compared with other delivery options. ARTD used this information and knowledge of the future plans for disability services to provide recommendations on the short-term future of the two programs.

MyTime for Grandparents Research

(Department of Social Services, 2011)

MyTime for Grandparents Research

(Department of Social Services, 2011)

MyTime groups provide a place for parents and carers of children with disabilities to socialise, receive and discuss information, and offer and receive support from others. ARTD conducted a research project to identify suitable locations for 25 new MyTime groups for grandparent carers and inform development of the model. We drew on administrative data, key informant interviews and a literature scan to identify 40 potential locations.  We also prepared guidelines to help group facilitators provide resources, information and referral pathways to link grandparents to local service providers. The Department used our results to make decisions about where MyTime groups would be established and funded.

Evaluation of pilot program for young people with challenging behaviour

(Prevention and Pathways Directorate, 2011)

Evaluation of pilot program for young people with challenging behaviour

(Prevention and Pathways Directorate, 2011)

Stay Connected, a case management program for young people with autism or intellectual disability and challenging behaviours at risk of suspension or expulsion from school, was piloted at two service locations in NSW. ARTD’s evaluation explored processes (including how the partnership between two government agencies and a non-government service provider had worked) and outcomes for young people. We scanned the literature, surveyed partner organisations using a partnership assessment tool, analysed program data and interviewed reference group members and school staff. We also interviewed parents/ carers and developed case studies from these. Our report identified critical success factors and barriers for effective case management within the partnership model to inform future implementation of the program.

Three-year evaluation of national package for children with autism

(Department of Social Services, 2009-12)

Three-year evaluation of national package for children with autism

(Department of Social Services, 2009-12)

The Helping Children with Autism Package is a $190 million Commonwealth Government funded initiative designed to improve support, education and access to best practice early intervention services for children with autism and their families. In 2008, we worked with Department stakeholders to design a logic model for the package components they manage. This provided the basis for the evaluation framework.

In 2009, we were commissioned to deliver the evaluation in three phases—initial process evaluation, mid-term review, and outcomes evaluation—over three years. This approach enabled the evaluation to inform the development of the package during key stages of growth. All three phases of the evaluation included surveys and interviews with key stakeholder groups (families with children registered for the package, approved early intervention providers, autism advisors and diagnosticians) and an analysis of monitoring data.

The first phase focused on assessing design and initial implementation. It included consultation with representatives of professional associations and a scan of the literature on early intervention for children with autism to assess the quality and scope of available research, identify major gaps in the evidence for interventions, and identify areas for future research (e.g. on treatment mediators and moderators and participant variables) and methodological considerations.

The final evaluation focused on outcomes. It included research with families identified as facing additional barriers to access in previous phases—those from Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those in regional and remote areas. The final report drew together data from all stakeholder groups across the three years to assess the package’s impact on access to best practice early intervention and contribution to improved outcomes for children and families. It also provided recommendations for improving delivery. ARTD work-shopped recommendations related to their role with autism advisors to define next steps. The Department has responded to other recommendations. ARTD and the Department presented on the findings and management response to recommendations at the 2012 PsychDD conference in Sydney and these are published on the Department’s website.

Quality improvement toolkit for disability advocacy services

(Department of Social Services, 2009)

Quality improvement toolkit for disability advocacy services

(Department of Social Services, 2009)

The National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) provides people with disability access to effective disability advocacy that promotes, protects and ensures their rights and participation in community activities. Agencies and public bodies receive funding under the Disability Services Act to provide advocacy and inclusion support for people with disability. ARTD facilitated workshops and analysed written submissions from the consultations with Australian Government funded disability advocacy services about options for a new quality assurance system.

While the strategy was under development, ARTD worked with the Department and in consultation with NDAP funded agencies to develop a Toolkit to support the continuous improvement and sector development components of the strategy. The Toolkit was designed to provide practical tools, resources and advice to assist NDAP funded organisations to develop and improve how advocacy work is organised and controlled to ensure consistent practice in line with agreed standards. The resource recognises that all agencies will approach the quality improvement process from different stages, and that some will already have quality management practices in place. As such, the Toolkit is not prescriptive, but provided as a resource for agencies to draw on to support quality improvement as needed.

The Toolkit was structured around key quality themes. For each theme, it provides a self-assessment worksheet, quality improvement worksheet, resources (to support planning of quality improvement actions), and sample policies and procedures. The Toolkit was made available to all NDAP agencies online: www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/pubs/employers/Documents/NDAP_QI_Toolkit/docs/NDAP_QI_Toolkit.pdf

Monitoring for support program for young people with disability

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2009)

Monitoring for support program for young people with disability

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2009)

The Community Participation program assists young people with disability to build skills that increase their independence and support their active participation as valued members in the community. In 2006, ARTD developed and piloted a performance monitoring system for the program. Following the pilot, ARTD maintained the system, providing helpline assistance to service providers, and following up non-respondents to ensure valid and reliable data. ARTD also produced six-monthly reports for the state, regions and individual services. The Department used this data to improve the delivery and monitoring of the program. Our work received the Best Evaluation Policy and Systems Award from the Australasian Evaluation Society in 2010.

Monitoring for a transition to work program for school leavers with disability

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2009)

Monitoring for a transition to work program for school leavers with disability

(Ageing Disability and Home Care, NSW Department of Family and Community Services, 2009)

Transition to Work is a two-year support program for young people with disability (with moderate to high support needs) to develop the skills and qualifications needed to successfully secure and sustain employment. In 2006 and 2007, ARTD helped the Department develop a monitoring and evaluation framework that described the intended outcomes of the program and the data needed to assess these. In 2008, ARTD designed the data collection tools and processes to support program monitoring in consultation with a stakeholder reference group. After piloting the tools and processes, ARTD was engaged to administer the system for 159 providers (servicing about 1200 clients) over two six-month periods (July to December 2008 and January to June 2009). We were responsible for supporting providers with data collection, analysing data and producing state-wide, regional and service-level reports. The reports were used for performance monitoring and contract management. Our work received the Best Evaluation Policy and Systems Award from the Australasian Evaluation Society in 2010.