Government Barriers against Consumers
Government departments are instigated, regulated and funded by government. Therefore it is the responsibility of governments to direct and control their departments where consumers and the public are identifying service level and quality concerns.
Most medical services in Australia used to be funded mainly by private health funds. In 1975 the then Federal Labor Government introduced 'Medibank'. The name was changed to 'Medicare' in 1984. Medicare attempts to ensure equality of medical services for all Australians - Every working person pays the Medicare levy. Therefore every Australian has a right to medical services - an entitlement.
Australians do not have a similar right to Dental and Disability Services. These are mainly charity-style, hand-out, services. If you are unable to pay, you stand in a long line - on a waiting list.
A large percentage of Australians were able to afford a Health Fund prior to Medibank. A much smaller percentage are able to afford a Dental Fund. Almost no one is able to afford Disability Services. So people with a disability stand in the long line to, if lucky, get some form of service for which they are expected to feel eternally grateful and never complain.
Almost all of these services throughout Australia are funded by Federal and/or State governments - providing direct and indirect 'captive market' services, The only choice consumers have is, 'Take it, or leave it'.
It they chose to take the service, they are frequently subjected to intimidation, layers of issue avoidance, in-denial and manoeuvre every which way to avoid consumer scrutiny, service accountability and transparency. This is especially so in government direct care services.
Government direct care services openly invite consumers, if not satisfied with internal complaint processes, to take their complaints to the various government funded independent statutory bodies (Ombudsman, Public Advocate, Disability Service Commissioner, Health Services Commission, VCAT, etc). Whereas, outside industry organisations in the market place, would do all possible to encourage their customers not to go to ACCC.
Government departments do not see they should have ownership of complaints - see complaints as tools to service improvement, They just see complaints as things to be reactively avoided at all costs - swept under the carpet. And those making the complaints are encouraged to go away and never return.
Government departments do not see consumers as a reason for their existence. They have no respect for consumers - just contempt. And no reason to consider the consumer as always right, in contrast to always wrong.
In total contrast, UK central government has little direct involvement in services for people with a disability, apart from ensuring people with a disability have a right to the services for which they are assessed as needing.
Assessments are undertaken through local authorities, who purchase the appropriate services and/or equipment from a range of non government service providers. With the local authorities taking responsibility to ensure service level and quality (LINK)
With local authorities being, generally, far more responsible than 'central government' in providing for those in their area, we asked some local authorities here in Australia if they would be prepared to take over the role from State and Federal governments, to be responsible for the provision of support services for people with disabilities.
The most common answer was, they had been reneged-on by state governments in past times. State governments provided start-up funding, with promises of on-going funding. But the local authorities were subsequently left holding the baby.
The NDIS is not only a funding avenue to ensure disability services are a right - an entitlement for everyone with a disability, it is means to ensure consumers, not bureaucrats, are in the driver's seat - that they have choice of their service provider.
The Productivity Commission went down the path of directly funding the consumers, through ISPs, to subsequently control service level and quality through competition.
With the level of funding from the Federal Government necessary to achieve this looking very questionable in the near future, the current services need to be cleanedup. So when, and if, any level of NDIS funding ever becomes available to initially cater for those on the waiting list, it would not be just more of the same. More of the present services would just increase the present disaster of service provider 'power over people' - consumers treated as undesirables.
We need to work towards the present services being far more accountable to consumers. Government direct services need to lead the way (See EASTERN LINK below), by reducing their traditional power over people - consumers are always wrong philosophy. And to replace their present 'reactive management' with proactive management (See PROACTIVE MANAGEMENT LINK below), as most questionable service provision is as a direct result poor attitude towards consumers and care standards.