The South Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme rollout in 2017 presented opportunities for current and aspiring disability providers in Adelaide’s northern suburbs. The number of people with disability locally was expected to grow from 4,400 to 9,400 by 2019, but there were insufficient services to meet demand. Plus, start-ups venturing into the sector reported a lack of skill development opportunities to build better businesses.
The City of Playford’s Economic Development team, based at the Stretton Centre, saw an opportunity to fill this gap. With $86,000 of funding from the Department for Innovation and Skills and in-kind support from National Disability Services and the City of Playford’s Community Development practitioners, the Stretton Connect NDIS Business Support Program Pilot was brought to life.
The program was the first of its kind in Australia and unique in its co-designed model. Preliminary consultations allowed 20 participants to tailor the program’s content to address their skill gaps. Local business consultants presented 22 workshops to ensure these needs were met, with topics including financial management, hiring staff, business planning and marketing. Participants also received 55 hours of one-on-one mentoring with business consultants collectively.
Ultimately, the Stretton Centre aimed to deliver a program that would develop the industry and empower local people with disability to exercise choice and control over their care. The program’s outcomes exceeded expectations, with 75 new jobs created and 220 new clients gained amongst participants.
Healing Through Arts Director Kerri Hay acknowledged the benefits of the program.
Almost six months after the program finished, all businesses are still operating. Several have successfully attracted funding, while others have joined co-operatives and initiatives working towards growth for the region.