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Interchange Inc: Ground -Breaking Research

Ground-breaking research has completed investigating the landscape of volunteering in disability services in Victoria in the context of the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The report calls on Government at local, state and federal levels to take urgent and decisive action to fund and support volunteer-supported programs that provide critical support to people with a disability their families and carers.

  • The study found that many people with a disability, as well as their families and carers rely heavily on the social capital and unpaid support provided by volunteers.
  • The research made the critical finding that the value volunteers bring to people with a disability, their families and carers is unique and distinct from the support offered by specialists and paid staff.
  • The foreshadowed changes to funding arrangements and increased regulatory controls have already caused a reduction in volunteer-supported programs.
  • The research highlighted the belief in the sector that volunteer-supported services are not sustainable under current NDIS funding arrangements.
  • Research participants stressed the need for funding models to reflect the actual cost of sustaining a program involving volunteers.
  • It is expected that more volunteer-supported programs are likely to close if action on funding guidelines is delayed.
  • The research found a significant link between supporting family units and the outcomes of people with a disability. This link demonstrates the vital contribution volunteers can have to the broader family unit, which can build capacity to better support a family member with a disability.
  • The research found that if funding does not extend to volunteer-supported programs, there is a substantial risk to people with disability, their families and carers.
  • The first of its kind research identified seven models of volunteer-supported programs in the disability sector. The report calls for Government to use this taxonomy of volunteer programs to help guide more informed discussion about the place and value of volunteer services in the community care sector and to influence policy developments, refine funding mechanisms, and manage quality and safeguards.