Consumer directed aged and disability service provision could inhibit the creation of inclusive communities unless there is multi-sector engagement to find market mechanisms to ensure otherwise.

While consumer directed care (CDC) provides funding to individuals, a wide range of stakeholders will come together at an upcoming forum to devise new projects that can help create inclusive communities.

Experts from across sectors will attend the National Respite Association event to come up with a market approach to ensuring all people in the community have a meaningful life in a CDC environment.

The peak body for not-for-profits providing respite in aged care, disability and mental health is holding two symposia, one each in Melbourne and Sydney, in May.

The events will involve consumers, such as older consumers, people with disabilities, carers and people from the indigenous disability network, service providers, academics, the social finance impact investment/social entrepreneurship sector, and government.

Chris Gration, executive officer, National Respite Association
Chris Gration, executive officer, National Respite Association

“We want to bring together the expertise and experience of people from those different sectors to come up with ideas around action; the little projects that we can do that can help create community,” said Chris Gration, who is executive officer at National Respite Association.

Rather than just looking to government to solve the issue, Mr Gration is calling on all stakeholders to come up with solutions that offer long-term sustainability.

“We want people to not only get the supports they need but also to build the rich relationships in community and informal networks that they can draw friends and family into,” Mr Gration told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The idea for the events has stemmed from reform in service delivery sectors toward CDC, which aims to use market mechanisms to deliver a competitive system with quality and choice for an individual, Mr Gration said.

“In five years’ time CDC markets will be the primary way of funding supports in aged care and disability and probably also mental health… We have to find a way that uses that mechanism and that framework to help support the enrichment of inclusive communities,” he said.

He likened it to social validation theory where every person, no matter their disability, experience, or frailty from aged, had something valuable they could contribute to community.

Key in this discussion is to work across those five sector groups but also across aged care and disability, which is still quite siloed, he said.

While there are some initiatives locally, he said they were not connected and more was needed. He noted Purple Orange in South Australia and Community Catalyts in the UK as two organisations pioneering the way in this field.

A key discussion question for Mr Gration comes from the social innovation impact investment field that finds it possible to use the best of capital venture ideas to support social enterprise.

“What I want to know is can we also do that to support the building of social capital in communities that is in the enriching of relationships,” he said.

The Sydney symposium takes place on Monday, 4 May, at the Aerial UTS Function Centre, University of Technology, Sydney.

The Melbourne symposium is on Monday, 11 May, at the Melbourne Art Centre, ANZ Pavilion.

This event is free for consumers, $220 for members and $270 for non-members.
Consumers or carers who believe they should attend at no charge, can email their details to

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