Delivering on its promise? Better but not good enough. An analysis of Victoria's individualised funding program for people with disabilities from a capabilities and human rights based perspective.

David, C 2016, Delivering on its promise? Better but not good enough. An analysis of Victoria's individualised funding program for people with disabilities from a capabilities and human rights based perspective., Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.


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Title Delivering on its promise? Better but not good enough. An analysis of Victoria's individualised funding program for people with disabilities from a capabilities and human rights based perspective.
Author(s) David, C
Year 2016
Abstract Australia is following international trends in individualising disability support funding as a means of offering greater choice and self-direction in how funds are used to purchase services. This approach is shaped by disability legislation and policy which reflects the human rights principles enshrined in Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which Australia ratified in 2008.

As well as choice and control, proponents also argue for the economic benefits of individualised funding arrangements, particularly as demographic changes place increased pressure on social support and care budgets. Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is based on individualised packages and when fully implemented in 2019/20 will have an expected 460,000 participants at a projected annual cost of $22.1 billion.

But despite enthusiastic and bipartisan support, debates continue regarding core ideological and practical tensions. These relate to the conflict between the neoliberal individualism of the overarching personalisation narrative and the collective citizenship roots of disability rights values. There are also concerns about the speed of implementation in the absence of adequate empirical research.

This study is located amidst these dichotomous debates. The emotional and economic investment in the NDIS requires that lessons from the local and international experience are used to inform critical thinking about implementation (van Toorn & Soldatic, 2015; Duffy & Williams, 2012).

This study aimed to contribute by exploring the example of Victoria’s Individualised Support Package (ISP) program from the perspectives of people using ISPs and service providers. The research sought to understand if, how, for whom, and under what conditions the ISP program fulfilled its rights promise of greater choice and self-determination. An emergent capabilities and rights based framework was used to analyse data from semi structured interviews with participants.

Findings suggest that linking people with individualised resources does not produce choice in the absence of the social relations and structural conditions in which it can flourish. The relationship between individualised resources and meaningful opportunities was shown to be complex and contingent, shaped by a network of interdependent mechanisms and relationships which acted to expand or constrain everyday choice and self-determination. The concept of conversion, drawn from the capabilities framework, explained these dynamics and the conditions required to transform the latent potential of formal and natural resources into meaningful outcomes. Conversion factors related to fundamental program elements, personal and social characteristics and resources, service approaches, and structural and contextual conditions.

A key finding was that ISP resourcing and planning typically underfunded and underplayed the factors responsible for conversion. There was insufficient recognition of the relational nature of choice and self-determination and the implications of this for planning and services. Instead, the real costs associated with the thinking, linking and bridging work of self-determination were frequently shifted to individuals, family carers, and services.

This study has implications for policy, practice and future research centring on how individualised funding models can more effectively and equitably acknowledge, fund, and enable conversion of individualised resources and the relationships and mechanisms therein.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Keyword(s) individualised funding
disability
human rights
capabilities
choice
self determination
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Created: Wed, 13 Apr 2016, 11:27:04 EST by Denise Paciocco
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