The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) welcomes the advent of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) as a rights-based approach that supports the independence and the social and economic participation of people with a permanent impairment or condition. The values of ‘choice and control’ that underpin the Scheme are consistent with the values and principles of self-determination and empowerment that have guided the social work profession for many decades.The role of social work in the NDIS:
Professional social work skills and supports have historically been integral to disability services in both government and non-government organisations. Social workers have had a strong role in assessment, planning and case management across all types of disability and service provision. This is particularly because of our expertise in addressing both personal and systemic dimensions of support and intervention.
Social Workers focus on maintaining and enhancing quality of life in a range of settings to facilitate empowerment and assist people with disability, their families and communities. Our work includes all levels of management and program design, individual planning, counselling, coordination and case management, as well as policy development, research and advocacy.
The values, qualifications and skills of social workers constitute a precise match with the person-centred approach of the NDIS. Social work practice is across the life span, and this includes working with children, adults, families, carers, groups and communities. Most importantly, social workers work alongside people with disability to facilitate their empowerment (and that of their families) and achieve their needs, goals and aspirations.
Social workers are present throughout the entirety of the NDIS (see Figure 1) in varied roles, including planners, Local Area Coordinators, managers, supervisors and as registered providers.
Figure 1: Social work roles in the NDISUnder the NDIS eligibility criteria, social workers can provide several specific supports, including:
• Therapeutic and counselling supports (individual and group)
• Early intervention supports for early childhood
• Behaviour support (assessment and development of support plans)
• Assistance in coordinating or managing life stages, transitions and supports
• Assistance to access and maintain employment or higher education
• Assistance with obtaining or retaining accommodation and tenancy