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Leading an organisation through industry upheaval

The NDIS has taken organisations into “unchartered territory”.

Since the establishment and roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the whole disability sector has been flipped on its head leaving organisations with the challenge of implementing a brand-new system that is a significant departure from the existing framework.

The NDIS is a welcomed and necessary change for people with disability. But for organisations in the sector, the scheme has taken them into unchartered territory, leaving them to figure out how to adopt these new changes without compromising services to a very vulnerable group of people.

As a leader of an organisation in the disability sector, I’ve faced the tidal wave that is the NDIS, and have so far been able to continue to support more than 4,000 people in need of care and support. I’ve also learnt some valuable lessons along the way on how to survive industry upheaval.

Culture of change

We have change embedded in our organisation, and it has been at the heart of how we have grown. In the 17 years that I have worked at New Horizons, I have seen the organisation grow from 20 employees in one location, to more than 900 employees in 100 locations.

So when the NDIS was rolled out, the organisation was ready to embrace change and tackle the unknown. While there was nervousness in the air, focusing on the positives of what the NDIS would mean for our customers made embracing the change easier.

An organisation that can truly adapt and re-mould depending on the industry environment, is an organisation that is built to last.

Don’t be afraid to try something new and get it wrong

It can be hard to dive into something totally new, in a brand-new business landscape, knowing how many people depend on you to get it right. It makes it worse when that ‘something new’ falls flat and you’re left wondering what you could have done differently.

Failure is a natural learning process and even the most successful people get it wrong from time to time. When you make a mistake, it is important to reflect on what happened, where it went wrong and how you could have worked better.

The mistakes I have made in the past have all helped me to make better decisions as the NDIS is rolling out.

Collaborate and communicate

When you are only one person in a large organisation, it is essential that you collaborate with others when making the big decisions, especially when the challenges facing your industry are as complex as the NDIS.

When there is a change that threatens uncertainty and causes anxiousness in your industry and organisation, communication is the key. It’s important to inform all stakeholders how they will be effected by the change and how they can be involved with the process.

At New Horizons, we promise to put wellbeing at the heart of everything we do. That means being honest and transparent about any changes and what it means, however difficult that might be.

The NDIS has completely restructured the way the disability sector operates, a necessary change that is helping hundreds of thousands of Australians to reach their goals. To survive industry upheaval, don’t shy away from change, rise to the challenge and embrace it.

About New Horizons

New Horizons began 50 years ago when it partnered with BP to form possibly the world’s first social enterprise, a small garage that employed people with psychiatric disabilities. It now employs more than 900 people across NSW

New Horizons provides a range of services and supports for people looking to enhance their wellbeing. As a registered NDIS provider, it specialises in supporting people with disability, mental health concerns, those who are aged, people at risk of homelessness, humanitarian entrants, youth, and Indigenous Australians.

Judi Higgin, CEO of New Horizons.

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