Marketising Disability Services: A love-hate relationship in a neoliberal world


  • Naomi Joseph Sydney University


The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Australia highlights a trend in policy towards marketising social care services. This paper analyses the effects of marketisation on service delivery by discussing the impacts for organisations, workers and service users. In a marketised system, agencies that deliver care have been forced into a competitive market and have adopted principles of New Public Management in social service delivery as a way of becoming more competitive. This approach has intensified work processes within the sector contributing to erosion of professional identity, poor working environments and poor quality care services. The  NDIS has introduced personalised care budgets as a vehicle for providing disability services in a competitive open market. The scheme propounds empowerment, choice and control for people with disabilities while remaining grounded in neoliberal economic ideals. Amongst various points-of-view that defend the benefits of marketising disability care, this paper discusses the way such policies have in fact, created tension in the disability sector, promoted poor working conditions and contributed to poor quality care provision. Despite the rhetoric that offers participants choice and control under the NDIS, this essay seeks to critically analyse whether the scheme can truly offer empowerment and promote social justice for Australians living with disability. 


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