A report says gaps in the NDIS marketplace are resulting in unfair and inequitable access to services for people with a disability and calls for better  management of the national scheme.

It highlights the need for better “market stewardship” to ensure equal access to NDIS services and fair and efficient distribution of resources, but concludes the scheme is currently ill-equipped to detect service gaps and other market deficiencies.

The report from the UNSW Centre for Social Impact is the latest in a number of critical reviews calling for better stewardship of the NDIS.

“If we have market gaps we’re in a situation where people are either not getting the support they need because there is no support there, or we’re not delivering on the vision of the NDIS, which was to give people choice and control over their own service needs,” the author’s report Associate Professor Gemma Carey told Community Care Reivew.

“This begs the worrying question about whether the NDIS currently has the capacity to steward the NDIS markets efficiently to meet its goals of enabling people with permanent and significant disability to access necessary care Australia-wide.”

The report, National Disability Markets, says while the NDIS promises to improve the lives of more than 400,000 Australians the scheme has been marred by a “range of implementation challenges”.

Associate Professor Gemma Carey
Gemma Carey

It says the choice of provider model upon which the NDIS is based depends on the availability of multiple competing providers, but market gaps means some people are only getting  poor services or none at all.

The report makes several recommendations including the immediate lifting of the public service staffing cap, describing it as a barrier to the scheme’s future success.

“The National Disability Insurance Agency is under a huge amount of pressure to deliver the biggest reform in a generation and it can’t hire staff,” Professor Carey says.

The report also proposes the creation of education department-style league tables as a means of increasing transperancy about providers.


  • Increase pricing flexibility to be more responsive to local market conditions by expanding criteria for price setting or giving price setting decisions to regional NDIA offices
  • Better information sharing through the release of more detailed NDIA position statements on local supply and demand
  • Provide financial incentives for innovation, subsidies for vulnerable groups and direct payments to some areas
  • Creation of league tables to boost quality of providers

Professor Carey says market issues are directly tied to the principles of equity that are supposed to underpin the NDIS.

“The thin market issue is more likely to affect people that are already likely to be experiencing other forms of disadvantage,” she says.

“So if we’re going to make sure the NDIs means choice and control for everybody, not just for some people, these are the types of issues we need to get on top of.”

You can access the report here.

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