In 2018, the NDIA decided to outsource the operation and staffing of the NDIS call-centre. The contract went to the private multinational Serco, which has government outsourced contracts here and in the Americas, the Middle East, UK & Europe and in other Asia-Pacific countries, and delivers services in justice, immigration detention, defence, transport, health and ‘citizen services’. In Australia, Serco Asia-Pacific runs prisons, including Australia’s largest, in Grafton, and runs immigration detention centres, including Christmas Island.
When Serco won the contract, many people with disability were concerned, and still are, that it would be a step away from the vision for ‘choice and control’ given that the primary goal of for-profit enterprises is to satisfy their investors, and of for-profit employees primarily to satisfy their employers. People with disability would struggle to compete with those interests. They were concerned that Serco, like other third-party providers, would fail to uphold the values, objectives and principles underpinning the NDIS.
At the time, Serco Asia-Pacific had no proven expertise in the provision of services to Australians with disability, yet they were given the ‘frontline’ NDIS service. Serco is the wrong fit for the NDIS; they are the wrong message and image for the national program that is the jewel in the crown of Australia’s National Disability Strategy. Serco is a symbol of human rights restriction, not promotion.
QAI conducted a survey of people’s experiences with the SERCO-managed NDIS Call-Centre. Using the ‘Survey Monkey’ platform, and receiving 67 responses, the survey ran through July 2018 – April 2019 . You can see the responses to our survey by opening this submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs’ Inquiry on the impact of changes to service delivery models on the administration and running of government programs.