Impact summary

Charles Sturt University and the Boosting the Local Care Workforce Program (BLCW) delivered six workshops titled ‘Building a customer-focused marketing and communication strategy for your NDIS business COVID-19 and beyond’ across Australia from September 2020 to February 2021.

Post-COVID lockdowns, the BLCW team had identified that disability support services were experiencing a problem where people living with a disability had stopped accessing their disability support services (in fear of catching COVID). Service providers needed to communicate with their consumers and let them know that it was safe to return. However, there were a group of disability support services with low business maturity and limited marketing experience who needed help to do this.

Jacqueline Cannon (BLCW) knew of my research as we had previously shared some other marketing information with service providers in the form of a one page information sheet. Jacqueline felt that sharing the additional research findings about the disconnect between service provider and consumer perceptions and some lessons about basic marketing tactics would benefit these providers and importantly ensure that people living with a disability were accessing the services they needed.

As such, we developed a workshop that was delivered to every state and territory and were attended by a total of 339 people, representing various disability support services around the country.

The workshops have had a positive impact on businesses operating in the disability services market by providing key insights into how to adapt the marketing and communications aspect of their business strategy to new and emerging markets. Workshops participants also gained an understanding of what carers and participants in the scheme are looking for and how these needs are changing as the market develops and copes with major disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Polls at the end of each session revealed over 93% of attendees intended to implement some of the tactics shared.

Research and engagement activities leading to impact

Between 2017 and early 2019 I lead a major exploratory investigation into the implementation of the NDIS in Western and Far Western NSW.

The research consisted of 50 pairs of interviews conducted with carers of people living with a disability and industry professionals from across the disability sector pre and post-NDIS implementation in the region.

In my role as deputy leader of the Health Services Research Group (FRA), I had been reaching out to academics across CSU who were working in similar areas. One of these was Dr Sarah Hyde, who attended a two-day symposium I had helped to run for the HSRA group in cooperation with the Aging Well and Mental Health FRA's in October 2019 (funded through the compacts). Sarah heard about the research which she shared with Jacquline Cannon of the BLCW which lead to her contacting me.

Jacqueline and I then worked together to produce a one-page document providing some of the NDIS research findings which was shared with 35 BLCW regional managers around the country at the beginning of 2020 (pre-COVID).

At the end of 2020, Jacqueline reached out again and asked if we could work together and use some additional findings from the NDIS work to support service providers to get people back in the door post-COVID.

Research outputs associated with the impact

The circle of vulnerability and the myth of choice
Small, F. (ERA2018 Researcher), Mehmet, M. (ERA2018 Researcher) & Kleinschafer, J. (ERA2018 Researcher), 08 May 2020, In: Journal of Social Marketing. 10, 4, p. 489-506 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review
Investigating PWD choice the NDIS in the Western NSW region of Australia: Service provider versus carer perspectives
Kleinschafer, J. (ERA2018 Researcher), Small, F. (ERA2018 Researcher) & Nikidehaghani, M. (ERA2018 Researcher), 2018.

Research output: Other contribution to conference › Abstract › peer-review

Researcher involvement

The workshops were led by Charles Sturt’s Dr Jodie Kleinschafer, Lecturer in the School of Management and Marketing and based on her resesarch into the implementation of the NDIS in the WNSWLHD.
The webinars were developed by Jodie in collaboration with Ms Kath Attree, Course Director in the Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences and Ms Victoria Erskine, Lecturer in the School of Communication and Creative Industries and Jacqueline Cannon from the BLCW. They were delivered in partnership with the federal government-funded BLCW.

Outcomes of research leading to impact

During the NDIS research, it was identified that there was a disconnect between the way NDIS participants (consumers) were choosing services and the way that disability support service thought they were choosing. This disconnect had implications for the way service providers could effectively communicate their unique selling proposition to their consumers.

The BLCW team had also identified a group of service providers with limited marketing experience to attend the webinars. The webinars highlighted the disconnect for the service providers and provided an overview of some of the marketing tactics they could use to get consumers back in the door post-COVID

Beneficiaries of the impact

The webinars were delivered to 339 attendees representing disability support services in each state and territory. The resources developed for the webinars were shared with all 650 people who registered for the webinars.

Details of the impact achieved

Post-COVID lockdowns in 2020 service providers noticed that people living with a disability (industry term Participants/Consumers) were not re-engaging with their service providers (info from BLCW). The aim of the webinars was to help service providers address this issue.  The webinars were specifically targeted to businesses BLCW had identified as having low business maturity (prior to the implementation of the NDIS these businesses had not needed to engage in marketing and therefore had limited organisational knowledge about how to do this).  The webinars provided research-based evidence about NDIS consumers and practical tools the businesses could use to develop communications to reassure them that it was safe to re-engage with their disabilty support services.

Hence, the impact of the workshops was twofold
1) building marketing capabilities in disability support services: including knowledge of consumer behaviour, marketing strategy and actionable tactics to re-engage Participants/consumers post-COVID.
2) helping vulnerable consumers (Participants) to feel safe to re-enage with the disability support services post-COVID and in doing so to ensure they were accessing the services the NDIS had deemed necessary for them to live an "ordinary life" (The NDIS litmus test for the need for funding:

Some evidence of the response to the webinars is provided below to demonstrate this impact.
At the conclusion of each event attendees were asked three questions

1) Was todays session helpful? between 93-100% responded yes across webinars
2) Do you intend to implement some of the tactics you learned about today? between 93-100% responded yes
3) Did you receive enough information to implement some of the tactics learned today? 83-100% responded yes.

Some of the comments from participants included:
“Presentation was great, good insights from CSU, well targeted at the audience – thanks 😊” WA BLCW Regional Coordinator

“this presentation was excellent” Chris Lead Regional Coordinator for NSW/ACT

“This is a fabulous session” Cheryl NSW Service Provider
"Brilliant. Thank you...reassuring, thought provoking andhelpful." Panellist and Service Provider QLD

Impact dateSept 2020Feb 2021
Category of impactEconomic Impact
Impact levelNational


  • Disability
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Marketing Strategy
  • NDIS

Countries where impact occurred

  • Australia

Sustainable Development Goals

  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
  • SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities