As we await the release of the new DES tender, providers are gearing up to face an uncertain landscape. Significant changes are on the horizon, including the impact of the NDIS Review, Disability Royal Commission, DES Quality Framework, and other evolving policies.  

In this article, CEO of Disability Employment Australia (DEA), Peter Bacon, and Founder and Director of Prospert, Paul Diviny, share their valuable insights and top 10 tips on preparing for the upcoming DES tender. 

Tip #1: Organisational Preparedness 

  • Evaluate whether your organisation is adequately prepared to deliver disability employment services. 
  • Conduct a thorough feasibility study, analysing current operations, growth options, and competition. 
  • Develop a comprehensive business case, including financial modelling and risk mitigation strategies and secure support from your Board. 

Tip #2: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) 

  • Review and improve your approach to DEI in the workplace. 
  • Consider the representation of people with disability within your organisation, aligning with the findings of the Disability Royal Commission. 
  • Ensure representation spans all levels, from Boards, senior leadership to frontline staff. 

Tip #3: Service Co-Design 

  • Actively engage in co-designing services with people with disability, making it a continual and living process. 
  • Place people with disability at the heart of service redesign initiatives, ensuring inclusivity at every step. 

Tip #4: Staff Training and Competency 

  • Emphasise training for staff and be prepared to articulate your training programs convincingly. 
  • Demonstrate a commitment to ongoing professional development and training to ensure staff are equipped for the sector’s evolving needs. 
  • There’s still time to implement a comprehensive learning program. Prospert offers learning programs to support ‘Effective Employer Engagement, and DEA has introduced a new ‘Fundamentals for DES’ training package. 

Tip #5: Policies and Compliance 

  • Ensure that policies align with industry standards and do not exclude people with disability. 
  • Be prepared to showcase policies during the tender process and address any potential issues that may arise. 

Tip #6: Community Partnerships and Employer Engagement 

  • Strengthen ties with the local community and employers, particularly in growth areas 
  • Collate compelling stories of how your organisation has supported employers in their journey toward inclusion, moving beyond mere placement numbers. 

Tip #7: Demonstrate Performance 

  • In the absence of star ratings, focus on interim performance measures that highlight quantity and quality of job placements. 
  • Develop case studies showcasing successful outcomes and the positive impact on individuals and employers. 
  • Source internal and external data to inform financial modelling, understanding of geographies and performance. 

Tip #8: Tender Team 

  • Secure your tender team including project manager, business analysts, finance experts and tender writers. Consider whether you need to backfill roles during the tender process. 
  • Identify your subject matter experts with deep industry knowledge. 
  • Identify additional external expertise to improve capability, drive strategy and deliver the tender bid. Consider an external review of your tender bid. 

Tip #9: Brand and Reputation 

  • Review external communications, including websites, marketing collateral, and newsletters, to ensure brand consistency. 
  • Update messaging to focus on points of difference in service delivery. 
  • Explore and implement communications campaigns that focus on service co-design, participant outcomes and effective employer engagement. 

Tip #10: Transition Plans 

  • Develop a robust implementation roadmap for transitioning to a new contract and/or exiting existing contracts. 
  • Identify operational gaps, consider HR restructuring, and ensure facilities and ICT infrastructure are aligned with the new contract. 
  • Develop a comprehensive employee communications plan to inform staff of changes and updates. 

Navigating the upcoming DES tender requires careful planning, strategic thinking, and proactive measures. Providers can position themselves for success in a changing DES environment. Prospert is here to guide providers through this process, offering expertise and support at every stage. Contact us to find out more.