Project Updates: September'20
Updated: Sep 25
Welcome to our third newsletter for 2020, and our second since COVID-19 has changed the way we work, engage and communicate.
Like everyone, we have become masters of video-conferencing, but miss the one-on-one engagement and critical thinking with clients we are accustomed to. Our weekly team meetings have become boisterous comparisons of sports training goals, home schooling techniques and technology skills. We hope you and your teams are findings ways to remain connected and engaged - with a focus on mental health and well-being - as we continue on this path of transition and discovery.
Following, is an update on our current projects and new projects, that we are likely to see expand in the short term. If any of these case studies resonate with your business needs, do get in touch. And if you prefer comms via LinkedIn, we encourage you to connect with the Social Scaffolding LinkedIn page for continued and regular updates.
Employment supports and the NDIS
It is no secret that for people with disability, the levels of unemployment are excessively high in comparison to people without disability. But lets immediately change the narrative – to people with different abilities. Only 53% of people with different abilities are employed, compared with 83% of people without a disability, and unemployment rates for people with different abilities are at 10%, more than twice the rate for people without disability at 4.6%. These statistics alone highlight that significant action needs to be taken for people with different abilities to achieve both sustainable and meaningful employment. Many people with different abilities who are employed, unemployed or not in the labour force have reported at least one difficulty in finding work. Some of the difficulties that have been reported include:
Inaccessible and potentially discriminating recruitment and on-boarding processes.
Too many applicants for available jobs.
Insufficient work experience.
Lack of accessible infrastructure.
Poor customisation of jobs to match abilities.
Lack of access to inclusive education and training.
Discrimination and stigmatisation by employers.
Own health or ability.
Lacked necessary skills or education.
So, what role does the NDIS and all of us have to play in assisting people with different abilities to achieve their employment goals and aspirations? From its inception the NDIS has had a strong aim of boosting the economic participation of its participants. To date however, the NDIS has identified that only 22% of participants are in paid employment. The NDIA’s NDIS Participant Employment Strategy sets out a strong commitment of supporting people with different abilities to find and maintain meaningful employment. It aims to have 30% of NDIS Participants of working age employed by June 2023. Whilst it may not be overly ambitious, the strategy does have a strong emphasis on participants achieving meaningful and resultingly sustainable employment. The challenge for everyone, people with disability, employers, government and the NDIS, is how do we make this real for all people with disability? Ange Boyd has been working with NDIS participants, in a mentoring capacity, who have a strong desire to gain meaningful employment. In breaking this down, what each person talks about is engaging in a job that they are passionate about, where their skills, knowledge and experience will be seen and utilised. They also want to be challenged to grow their skills and grow professionally. These are goals we all want to achieve in our work life. The NDIS has provided these participants with the opportunity to obtain assistance to help them develop their unique employment goals and step out the actions that they need to take to achieve success. The challenge now is for government, employers and the general community to recognise the value in employing people with disability and the unique skills they bring to enhancing our work cultures creating inclusive communities. Ange and the Social Scaffolding team are actively pursuing employment pathways for people with different abilities – working with our clients to develop strategies for their funded NDIS participants, working with peers and peaks to call out and break down barriers, and engaging main stream employers to step-up and take on influential roles through leading by example. Watch this space for some exciting initiatives to be announced.
New business models:Balancing transactions with outcomes
Social Scaffolding has been approached by a number of our clients over the past months to support them in strategy around new revenue streams. This has come about at a time when existing revenue and business models are under stress. And government funding is reducing. There is a growing trend for traditional providers succeeding in the new NDIS market as a result of transitioning existing or developing new business models. The challenge however is getting the balance between transaction and outcomes right. Social Scaffolding is being engaged because of our depth of experience in working in transaction-focused businesses. We have all worked in for profit businesses, and we've all worked in not for profit businesses. So we know the difference, and we know how to cross the chasm in terms of knowledge and expertise. No margin, no mission is the mantra to keep top of mind. Some of the examples of businesses that we have worked with over the past several months include:
An ADE wanting to grow their number of supported employees in line with their business growth.
Technology platform seeking investment to grow their ageing in place solutions.
An SDA specialist provider seeking investment to grow their portfolio of properties.
A successful tenancy sustainment funded program wanting to transition to a transaction/pay as you go social enterprise model.
A community transport solution seeking a pay as you go business model in regional Queensland.
Several social enterprise food businesses wanting to service the NDIS meal market and distribute new products rather than relying on the declining restaurant market.
A neuroplasticity business that literally extended our cognitive abilities.
As well as a portfolio of social enterprises that we have mentioned in our previous blogs. Our consulting in these projects focused on sales and marketing expertise – sell more product, employ more people.
The support we have provided these organisations has included strategic planning, competitive market analysis, internal skills and values alignment ensuring ability for the organisation to deliver on the service and meet financial targets, as well as implementation plans including KPI’s. We expect the demand for revenue generating business models to grow as traditional business models are put under further strain. We look forward to keeping you posted of new and innovative business models and don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas.
Human rights project: More than just compliance
"It has long been recognised that an essential element in protecting human rights was a widespread knowledge among the population of what their rights are and how they can be defended."
Boutros Boutros-Ghali Sixth UN Secretary-General - 1992-1996
When working with organisations to assist them to make decisions, develop solutions and often to forge new and innovative business solutions we often ask a pivotal question, “What is the value that you are creating for your customers?”. Being clear on what value your business will deliver enables your customers to understand how your products and services will meet their specific needs. So, what does ‘value’ have to do with human rights within your organisation? Respect for human rights is not only the right thing to do but it is directly linked with core business values such as integrity, respect for people, and equal opportunity. Not only that but having a strong human rights framework and embedding it within your organisation makes good sense – from a risk management as well as business opportunity sense.
The table below illustrates the benefits  or value that can be created in embedding a human rights framework and culture into your organisation.
Ange Boyd has been working with a large public entity who engaged Social Scaffolding to help them answer the questions of "What must we do to be compliant with the Human Rights Act Qld (2019)?”. Through discussions with various stakeholders within the organisation it became clear that yes, they wanted to ensure that they were compliant from a risk management perspective. However, what was equally as important was to embed respect for human rights as part of the organisations culture so that it would become an integral part of how they delivered their services.
As such, Ange has been helping the organisation to understand what they can do to comply with the Act as well as supporting them to build a human rights-based culture that is aimed at driving transformative change in the work they do. To date, elements of this work has included stakeholder consultations, human rights impact assessment and mapping activities, as well as education and training.
Through understanding the human rights impacts on their everyday work, as well as working collaboratively together to embed a human rights-based culture it will assist them to make more impactful decisions and advance human rights within Queensland.
 Australian Human Rights Commission: Integrating human rights into Australian business practice.
NFP Income sources: How to diversify?
Many NFPs have historically been reliant upon one main source of income - a reoccurring Government contract - and for some, their high exposure to one main contract has made them vulnerable to changes in Government policy or priority. This vulnerability often becomes more apparent in challenging times such as COVID19. In contrast, organisations that have diverse income streams are often better placed to deal with challenges that arise. Of course, there is a balance in this too. Having too many diverse contracts and deliverables is not ideal either as organisational resources can then be spread too thinly. What then is the optimum mix? In our experience working with organisations in a variety of NFP sectors, being consciously open to ways of diversifying organisational income is often the first step. Changing the mindset from "this is what we have done historically" to "what are the opportunities" often opens up the team to possibilities. The solution will be different for each organisation but could include:
Investing more time and resources into provision of add-on services (eg for NDIS registered providers, consider SIL, ILO or SDA into new client groups).
Looking at what complimentary services are provided to customers already (often free of charge) and finding a way to monetise this service for a wider cohort because there is a demand.
Investing in a property that is not only an asset on the balance sheet but also an additional source of income through rent generation or enhancing fee for service income.
Setting up a social business or enterprise which complements the overall mission of the organisation including commercialising existing IP or developing a SaaS platform.