At The Corner - NDIS Provider and Community Space
plan management, support coordination and training
Colorful paper clip with pile of reports arranged on table

Resources

Lots of news and blog articles. This is a good place to see what we’re about and what makes us different from other NDIS service providers. With us, it’s personal.

Be Part of Making Things Better

I’d like to set you a challenge. Think of something you feel passionately about and do something about it.

I know you may not be a government minister or a billionaire with money to give away. Even if you are neither of those things, the challenge stands.

We work in a space where decisions are made every day. Those decisions affect us directly, impact someone we love, change the nature of our work, and so on. And those decisions need to be as good as they possibly can be.

Assault course competitor helping others crawl under nets

One of the things that trouble us the most is that decisions are sometimes made well, but communicated poorly. In which case people stop and complain to each other, but nobody actually investigates to find out what’s happening beneath the surface. People waste time and energy complaining about something that doesn’t need complaining about. Alas, we waste so much time on that thing that we don’t move on and deal with the real stuff.

Disability is an emotive subject. The NDIS is a brave and exciting opportunity to do something great, that few countries have done before. There aren’t many MPs or policy makers with a disability, so it’s our job as a community to make it as good as it can be. Get involved with what’s going on.

You see, the nature of what we do is challenging. You have to believe in it, understand it, live it, love it. And that is the drive that will make you go forward and do something.

So, do you need to be a minister? No.

Do you need to be a billionaire? No.

Just be you. Believe in something. Find a way to contribute to the discussion and make it better. That’s our story, we hope it can be yours too.

Let's Talk About It

Don’t you ever wonder if there’s a better way? Why you get treated in some manner that completely misses the point? A provider who makes a promise, only to end up being just like everything else you ever tried?

We need to make progress, don’t we? But there are answers. Let’s talk about this.

I’m at the World Education Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Thank you airline points and flybuys for paying for the ticket.) This trip has been about investigating other ways of making progress in our lives. We’ll talk about those findings soon.

The trouble with the disability support industry is that it looks inwards for solutions, not outwards. Why don’t we think a bit more creatively and speak to the people who gave up on the system to have found their own better way? Why do big companies do things like design thinking to solve problems, but we do not? Why does everyone dance around the edges and avoid talking about the actual problem?

So enough questions. Let’s focus on moving forward and achieving some outcomes we can be proud of. There are decent people out there and good solutions. It’s about finding them with someone who gets it.

And so, we’re launching a series of videos. On all the things that we face as people with disabilities or carers. Don’t worry, the podcasts will continue too.

Let’s talk about those issues. No need to feel alone any more. We can do something about it.

About 12 months ago. I went to see my MP, David Elliott.

“No constituent ever talks to me about policy”.

Well, let’s get the discussion going. There’s a lot to talk about.

Maybe I need a bit of video practice… but let’s not let perfection get in the way of what we need to achieve. This is real life.

An extraordinary system needs extraordinary providers
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Sometimes we get complacent about things, no matter what they are. The NDIS is no exception. It only started rolling out in 2016. It’s an incredibly complicated and it affects people so very personally. Any piece of legislation is complex, but here is one that affects people who need our help and support. Quite often they are people in difficult circumstances, with no well-funded lobby groups to argue their case. It is legislation, backed up by a set of rules and practices, a brand-new government agency and it’s all very young. Sometimes it is no wonder that things go wrong, although if we look on the bright side it is amazing that more things haven’t gone wrong.

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Well done Australia.

And yet despite the well achievement, does it mean we can rest easy? No, it doesn’t. Because everything that needs improving is something that is affecting peoples’ lives.

As a service provider, we become accustomed to all the little intricacies of the NDIS. The payment system has failed twice in the last 2 weeks - so payments made were not being notified and people thought they had not received their funds, when in fact they might. Or the fact that if you are too good with computers and log in very quickly then the NDIS portal will show you an error message which is difficult to resolve. Indeed, to return to the first paragraph, when you deal with something every day then it is easy to become complacent.

But that’s what drives us, because there really is nothing to be complacent about. Every time we explain the system to someone new, or find a new way to overcome an obstacle, there’s a sense of realisation that this is complicated, and we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect, as an individual. Not to prejudge or assume anything.

The world needs providers, like us, to be the force to make it happen. We hear so many sad stories, and it sometimes has a bad reputation, but it really isn’t that bad. Many of the problems we hear about are largely avoidable if providers took the time to:

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  • learn about their participants

  • learn the systems

  • understand the nature of disability

  • learn the rules

  • apply the rules well.

It’s not so bad. You just need a good provider to accompany you on your journey. Because this is a journey and we will walk it together.

Curious About Everything

There’s a famous and often mocked quote by Donald Rumsfeld, a previous US Defence Secretary which talked about unknown unknowns. And yet I realise these days that the unknown unknowns are the frontier.

...there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns- the ones we don’t know we don’t know.
— Donald Rumsfeld

Yesterday I spoke to Michael Henderson, a Corporate Anthropologist at an event on curiosity, hosted by Rackspace. He said, “When you look at the world, you often see what you expect to see.” And these things you see are based on the things that each of us has learnt and done in our lives. But to see the real world, you must take the filters off, you must unlearn and re-evaluate what is out there, because that is how you learn and grow.

When you look at the world, you often see what you expect to see
— Michael Henderson

Here is our world, disrupted, competitive, complex, unpredictable… and how do we manage in such a world. How do we innovate, and find the answers to the wicked problems?

Is it by being cleverer, faster, better at exams, more edgy? Maybe those are a small part of the story, but I suspect that all of them fade away without a sense of curiosity and childlike wonder.

Woman in Canyon X

In some of my work on theology, the essence of being childlike (not childish) is about coming to the table with few preconceptions and limitations, but instead to go into a situation with openness and innocence, to find out what is happening and then go forwards. But it is more than that, because “going to the table” is a business cliché. What if there is no table? Or the answer is not at the table but behind a door that appears closed? This is curiosity. It is the ability to look at the world and notice it for all its wonder and then to ask the big questions. They may not seem very big, but they are. And from them we can move forwards. According to Michael, some people call that disrupting but that’s only disruption is only in our imagination, because the marketplace only evolves.

Albert Einstein said “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” Here’s the guy who didn’t speak until he was 4 and failed his university exam, talking about how curiosity unleashes the capability to solve problems.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
— Albert Einstein

Remember that what you know is all you know. Don’t be afraid to be curious, even if it shows your knowledge is somewhat lesser than you thought. Curiosity is an act of courage. To embrace what might be unknown, to take a chance on risk and adventure.

Perhaps there is the adage about curiosity killing the cats, but we never do hear about the cats that got away? Here’s to curiosity. That’s what we are about,  At The Corner.

What does community mean?

For a few years, I had wondered what community was about and what it meant to me. How do we relate to each other at work, at rest, or in play? Do you know your neighbours? Would you be able to ask for their help if something went wrong? There is often a robust online community, but we also wanted to create something that you could see and touch.

That was part of why we started At The Corner. And in so doing we have discovered the hope that out there among us all is that real community. The community we need, something that deserves to be celebrated. The ingredient of people doing what they do so we are all the better for it.

Although At The Corner is an NDIS service provider, it wants to focus beyond disability by being the change it wants to see in the world.
— Councillor Robyn Preston

We won the Hills Shire Community award 2018 for our service to the community. The official title is the Community Contribution Award for Community Service. There are lots of cliches about doing what we love, doing things for others and so on. But really what it boils down to is doing what matters. It's damn hard work. We want to thank and congratulate our fellow awardees for their work in sport, education, environment, arts and business.

And perhaps we ask that you all celebrate with everyone by participating in what goes in. Be it singing, cycling, theatre, little athletics or whatever. It is happening near you and the people who provide things are award winning. Be part of your community, because the community is nothing without you.

 Crowd

Crowd

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What is the NDIS?

The Theory

We've watched the NDIS come from an idea to reality. We saw the system that it replaced, and we have worked on similar schemes in other countries. The NDIS is very unique, and Australia should be very proud of what it is trying to achieve. It brings the power back to participants to make decisions about their lives. It allows participants to make real choices about which providers they use. The NDIS refers to this as "choice and control." It even embraces the idea that spending a bit more money up front will result in better support outcomes and lower costs down the track.

In Practice

Many providers are finding it incredibly difficult to get used to. Rather than receive money up front to cover support over an extended period of time, providers now have to work continually and acknowledge that just like any other business, if their standards drop then, customers will leave them. 

Of course, any change like this is bound to be challenging on many levels. After all, how can the NDIS be responsible with money while still being responsive to peoples' needs? This is what "reasonable and necessary" is all about. Those 3 words govern much of how the NDIS works. 

You may have heard some sad stories, such as people having money taken away, or long waiting times for decisions, or even the NDIS computer system. One of our participants has Down's Syndrome. Her NDIS planner asked her if she got that from an accident. She walked out of the meeting.

independent living skills class

How to Manage

Yes, there's lots to learn, but the important thing is that people are slowly learning those lessons. We wish they could learn them faster, and we wish the NDIS always worked as it intended. There still some way to go. What's most important is to have someone on your side. Someone who knows the system, who understands its intricacy and can help you make the most of things. 

We don't pretend that the NDIS is easy. Neither do we pretend that we can make all the problems go away. But, what we do is make sure that questions are answered, that things are managed well and that you get the most from your plan. We can do the admin work for you, we can support you to make the decisions you need, moving you closer to living the life you deserve, without limitations. Navigating the NDIS is what we are all about.

What Should You Do?

Fill in our contact form and get in touch! We will talk you through the process of coming on board.

Paul RegisAt The Corner
Shine
 
 
 

Amid all the pressure in modern times to conform, to do things faster, more efficiently, or even automatically, it's nice to actually step back and think about why we do what we do. 


 


Yesterday I met an exercise physiologist who uses old-fashioned diaries to manage his appointments. A few months ago, a work colleague told me that her dad makes amplifiers out of tubes and valves. Something that has to be seen (and heard) to be believed. Surely those diaries and hi-fi equipment have no place in a modern society where everything seems to be Spotify and Facebook.

It struck me that quite often we just do things today without thinking about what they mean, why they matter or where they came from. 

When we started our business, the NDIS seemed to be so complicated. We couldn't get the systems to work, everything seemed to take so long to type in, the rules seemed to change often. That went on for a few months. We stuck with it, determined to overcome the problems and actually start spending more time on people and less time on paperwork and admin. 

And as we kept at it, we realised from those early days how things came together. Rather than just following the process and being frustrated, we made phone calls, got to know people, got to understand the NDIS and importantly figured out how to mix our experience with the things that the NDIS was all about.

Without those early days, things would seem a little stale now. Sure, now we have automated things, and everything is more efficient. But without the experience of those early days, teaching us how everything goes together, we would not be where we are today.

Girl holding gold stars

As I reflect on all the things that have happened recently, I realise that it is the old-fashioned things that give meaning and life to what we're about. Old may sometimes seem redundant or inefficient, but it's through getting used to how things work at their heart that you learn how the whole thing comes together. And that's what we do. We bring it all together to make things shine.


 
Paul Regis
Shared Purpose
 
 

I was part of the audience for Q&A on Monday 25 June. It was specially themed around the NDIS. I haven’t been to a regular Q&A, but I imagine that the attendees are usually those interested in the typical run of the mill politics. But on Monday, as we waited to be shown to the film studio, I realised that this edition was about people with personal stories to tell, people with a shared sense of identity who just wanted to try and find answers.

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I met one lady with autism. She was devastated that her question hadn’t been shortlisted… upset that maybe she didn’t matter. But we spoke for a while and she realised that rather than her question being unimportant, she was actually part of a big group who asked the same thing. It wasn’t about whether she mattered or not. She actually belonged and had strength in the numbers of people who felt strongly about the same thing. And her question would be asked, albeit differently and by someone else. There are many ways to have a voice - perhaps we can shout out as individuals, but on occasion, we have strength by being part of a tribe, all united by a common purpose. 

I did not get to ask my question either, but Sarah who was with me had another version of my thought, and she did get called. It was about carers navigating the NDIS.

Sadly, the panel didn’t provide what I would call an answer. Instead, panelists digressed and spoke about bad IT systems. They talked about rights, they mused on living a life that one deserves, but they did not mention unpaid carers. Though we did learn that NDIS call centre staff are not apparently given empathy or disability training. Maybe between all those thoughts lies some clue as to what an answer should contain, but not an answer per se. 


Always tempting to blame the processes or the systems, isn't it? These look like easy scapegoats because they never fight back. Machines don't get happy, they don't get sad, they just run programs. But what I realised, even more on that particular evening, is that it is the outcome that matters. We must be clear about what we want and find a way around the hurdles, rather than an excuse to blame. Because that's when we stop making progress.


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It is easy at times to give up because the computer platform is no good, or the policy says the goal impossible. But when we are determined to do what is right, persistent, tenacious, curious and compassionate, then invariably we find our answers, and more importantly, we get to test our questions too.

 
 
Paul Regis
Industry Contacts
 
 

There are many organisations and contacts who can support you if you need any help. Here are some useful ones.

It can get confusing to find the right people so if you have trouble finding anyone you can always speak to us for support.


 

Problems with anything you bought?
The Australian Competition Commission can oversee consumer rights. They have a fact sheet.

Questions about the National Disability Insurance Scheme?
You can contact the National Disability Insurance Agency. They provide information, referrals and support. The NDIA web page has email addresses, phone numbers, translator phone numbers and TTY numbers.

Concerns about aged care services?
The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner resolves concerns about aged care services funded by the Australian Government, including services provided in the home.

Think you've been treated unfairly?
The Commonwealth Ombudsman investigate complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by an Australian Government agency. It also investigates organisations that spend government money to deliver services.

 
Paul Regis
Disability Rights
 

What Are Your Rights?

Everyone with should expect to receive quality goods and services.

Equal access and equal opportunity means that also applies equally to people with a disability and the supports provided. This page is about some of the rights you have and the organisations who protect those rights and provide you with help if something is wrong

The National Disability Insurance Scheme was a great leap forward for disability rights in Australia, because it recognised that people with disabilities should expect good services. It doesn’t matter whether what a service is and whether that service is related to disability or not. Whether it is painting your house, washing the car, wiring a plug, or providing support for disability, your rights are preserved.

In the world before the NDIS, the power was sometimes in the hand of providers. They could take that money and provide little in return. But the NDIS is a set of policies and programs that provide choice and control. As a participant, you have the right to choose whoever you want to provide services. Just like how you can decide which shops you visit, you can, at last, choose which providers you work with. It’s all about you, and remember, nobody knows you like you do!

The idea of equal access has been around for a long time, but this is so important when it comes to selecting services that our community uses. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission see this as so important that they have worked on producing information about how the rights of people with disabilities are protected by law. These measures are a great way of legislating the end of this kind of indirect discrimination, but that doesn’t yet mean everything is fixed. Some groups are more vulnerable, such as children with disabilities. Thankfully the Australian Government is recognising that. We are starting to work with the local police force as part of our initiative to help people engage with criminal justice system and make sure that things work better.

Work With Us

If you have any queries, if you need help with service you have received and want to make things better, then talk to us. We will help. And if you choose to let us provide your support coordination, then we will spend more time with you in supporting you to uphold your rights.

UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

Remember, disability is important, and is being recognised better and better. 1 in 5 Australians has a disability of some kind - and don’t forget there are children with disabilities too. The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities is a long title for a very important international agreement. It forms the basis of many countries’ laws to protect the rights of people with disabilities. It is not about treating people as a charitable cause but about treating them as full and equal members of society. This covers them to have full equality under the law with any other person in society.

New Zealand played an important role in negotiating the Convention, which defines people with disabilities as “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”


UN Convention: Rights of Persons with Disabilities

160 Signatories

172 Parties

171 States



Paul Regis