The Disability Trust and ermha365 launch WISE strategic partnership

Logos of The Disability Trust, WISE Aboriginal Corporation Group and ermha365
6 May 2024

WISE Aboriginal Corporation (WISE AC), The Disability Trust (TDT) and ermha365 (Ermha) have formed a strategic partnership which aims to assist with strengthening the capability of First Nations and local, place-based organisations to provide services within their communities.

This partnership is intended to leverage our capability to provide and support quality service delivery and capacity building in areas where markets are thin, or governments are keen to strengthen First Nations owned or community-based organisations in supporting community engagement or direct service delivery.

WISE AC was formed out of a clear market need to support organisations nationally to develop efficient and effective services that support First Nations People as there is a gap in support services. With a profound commitment to fostering sustainable growth nationwide, its mission is to provide the essential support and resources for First Nations organisations to flourish in the human services, community and employment sectors. At the heart of its ethos lies a reverence for indigenous wisdom, culture and heritage while facing the unique challenges faced by First Nations groups in navigating contemporary landscapes.

TDT and Ermha recently merged to form an organisation which provides support to more than 6000 Australians and employs 3000-plus staff across NSW, Victoria, Queensland, the ACT and Northern Territory. Individually and jointly, they have extensive experience in providing services to clients with disability and mental health support needs.

As of 30 June 2021, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates there are almost 1 million First Nations People in Australia, representing 3.8% of the population. Of those, 38% are living with a disability, compared with 18% of the total population.

The average Australian lives to the age of 83, whereas First Nations people live more than eight years less. In some remote communities the average life expectancy is significantly lower than this again. The team at WISE AC have worked extensively to support disability, aged care and employment service providers to address barriers that impact the development of their workforce, the building of their organisational capability and solid cohesiveness across programs to achieve success.

TDT and Ermha both have experience in the delivery of services in thin market contexts, where the number of participants or providers is small, and this impacts on the provision of services, leaving some Australians with limited or no access to supports or particular kinds of assistance. In remote and very remote areas, under the NDIS (by way of example) more than one in three participants who have been in the NDIS for over a year, are not accessing daily activity supports, and over one in four are not accessing therapy supports.

WISE AC, TDT and Ermha wholeheartedly agree with the NDIA’s assessment that addressing market gaps for remote and First Nations communities requires a different market approach that can better coordinate supports. Through this new strategic partnership, the organisations believe they can assist state, federal and territory governments in a culturally sensitive way in building trust and entry points for further capacity building and quality service provision.

WISE AC, TDT and Ermha, by working in partnership with important community stakeholders, are confident they could increase the number of Aboriginal-controlled organisations providing supports under the NDIS, as well as strengthening the First Nations workforce to engage in the sector.

This work should be undertaken in partnership with service recipients, their families and supporters, community leaders, service providers and other government and non-government stakeholders. It needs to be undertaken with a person-centred approach, leveraging the strengths and goals of the individual, but acknowledging the network of relationships that make up remote and very remote communities.

WISE AC, TDT and Ermha look forward to working with the NDIA and the broader Federal Government to potentially contribute to the development of enhanced market interventions that deliver lasting improvements for individual service users, staff, and communities where they are supported.