An environmental scan of inclusion and implications for community services industry

CSIA works to strengthen the business of community services organisations, which includes how we, as an industry, engage with stakeholders and our communities.

Creating inclusion often has surprising social and economic benefits that ripple out to industry, business and the wider community. And this is something that CSIA was excited to explore through the Inclusion Ready Project.

CSIA, in partnership with National Disability Services (NDS) Queensland commissioned Griffith University’s Policy Innovation Hub to undertake an environmental scan of inclusion. The end result is the Becoming Inclusion Ready report that:

  • Introduces us to the concept of inclusive growth, and methods for measuring it, to understand the impact inclusion has on a community.
  • Identifies the importance of inclusion on healthy economic growth.
  • Provides a snapshot of inclusion for people with disability, showing that we have a lot of work to do.
  • Showcases the pockets of good work being undertaken by government, community services industry and communities

But how does this report, and the findings on inclusion, support sustainability in the business of the community services industry? CSIA CEO Belinda Drew addressed this question in her presentation at the recent launch event.

Belinda said Becoming Inclusion Ready has identified a range of implications and opportunities around industry development for industry and communities. This, coupled with the current industry reforms, enables a whole new paradigm.

“We are used to seeing the provision of disability services in one narrow kind of silo, but with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) leading silo melting reform, we have an opportunity to create a new world order.

“And we can do this in partnership with people with disability and the communities where they live, because there is nothing more important than working in collaboration.

“In order to encourage participation, especially through NDIS and Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) programs, we can’t approach people with disability as one homogenous group.

“What this report reminds us is that people don’t have the same lived experience, access to the same opportunities or inclusion needs,” Belinda said.

Creating social and economic inclusion

Belinda encapsulated what would support the growth of social and economic inclusion in communities.

“As community service organisations we need to hold a frame [refer to model one] across social and economic inclusion to help build resilience, facilitate participation and structure engagement,” she shared with the room.

“Now is the time to think about what our role is as an industry in this space and what it will look like in the future. I was reflecting on this through the lens of our workforce who work with and provide services for people with disability, the workforce of the future are enablers of an ordinary life for people with a disability and their families.

“I think it’s time for new models that will need a new narrative. It’s time to move towards an inclusive growth framework and away from the welfare and care models to reset the community services in a new economic model,” Belinda said.

Working together towards inclusion

Belinda shared model two as she talked about how equity of opportunity and outcome are critical to achieving inclusion, but only if government, the community services industry and business work together.

“Let’s focus first on this intersection between community services and government. In this space we need to continue the exploration and pursuit of inclusion frameworks in a policy sense,” Belinda said.

“When we move into the overlapping space between government and business, this is about working together to enable economic participation.

“The challenges for business are to change their thinking around corporate responsibility and think beyond charitable acts.

“Businesses need to look at how accessible they are for people with a disability so they can come with their family and friends as customers.

“This includes coffee shops being accessible, tourism operators taking into consideration participation of people with disability and employing a person with a disability,” she said.

How do we get there? 

The report considers inclusion growth and, also highlights some current projects and collaborations involving all three groups in the model above. But in Australia and Queensland we still have a way to go to creating true inclusion.

Belinda said that for us it’s about creative industry development focusing on what works in inclusion, person-centred services and using theory of change and program logics.

“With the idea of person-centreed services, we need to constantly challenge ourselves, even in this project, to think about putting people with disability, their voices, their needs and their interests at the centre of what we are doing.

“CSIA has been working on different projects using theory of change with an unsurprising level of success. This includes working with self-advocates, who are people with disability,  to plan through a theory of change, to build capacity for themselves, for other people with disability and for Queensland communities.

“At the bottom of this diagram is this cross sectoral piece and the recurring them of collaboration. This is how we create new business offerings.

“I think what I’m very excited about is how we as an industry can lead the way to work with business and government to lead the inclusion agenda.”

“We have so much to offer in terms of our close connections to people with disability, showing leadership in helping to reframe their inclusion in communities into the future.

“Our call to action to industry and all of you is to embrace this reform and, together, we can bring these opportunities to life. Now is the time to think about the NDIS as an inclusion framework and the possibilities that brings,” Belinda said.

The Inclusion Ready Project is working to help communities better understand inclusion and the related Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grants under the NDIS.