Understanding the NDIS: how does the scheme view music therapy?

Click image for larger version.  Name: Music-Therapy.jpg  Views: 1  Size: 45.8 KB  ID: 30207 It is challenging to work out how the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) works. As an an allied health professional who is also the Head of Music Therapy, I attempt to anticipate and influence policy changes, conduct research that challenges and tests new directions and teach how music therapy practice needs to evolve in response.

Music therapy is different from music entertainment. It is a research-based practice and profession where music is used to actively support people to improve their health and overall well-being. Music therapists are musicians trained at university to understand how music can affect behaviours and how people feel and think.

Theoretically, music therapy is a support funded under the NDIS, that includes funding for “therapeutic supports including behaviour support”. A spokesman from the National Disability Insurance Agency – the organisation implementing and overseeing the scheme – told us:

Under the scheme, music therapy must be delivered in a program designed by a qualified music therapist and delivered by a music therapist or therapy assistant with experience in music therapy. If it is delivered by a therapy assistant, the program must be monitored by a music therapist. Like any therapeutic intervention, a music therapy program is regarded as a capacity building support with goals and measurable outcomes.

But it is still unclear how music therapy will be funded under the NDIS. While the spokesman said funding for music therapy would be assessed on a case-by-case basis, anecdotal reports suggest assessment for funding varies greatly between regions, rather than individual cases.

The value of the arts

The NDIS was established to reflect a social model of disability which means it recognises people with disabilities are part of our community and supports the social changes necessary to accommodate their needs. It’s an internationally accepted model that emphasises inclusion, equity and autonomy.

Music therapy provides accessible opportunities for participation in the arts and is also an allied health profession, along with 17 others represented by the national Allied Health Professions Association.

We conducted research with disability service providers such as Scope, which have arts programs that aim at both community inclusion and the provision of traditional allied health services in their centres. We found participants enthusiastic about accessing music programs tailored to their needs and keen to be involved in new opportunities provided by qualified music therapists.

NDIS planners are the gatekeepers of the new funding process, assessing plans submitted by families. So the key question becomes: what understanding do planners have of the value of arts participation in the scheme?

According to our most recent research projectthis is variable. Service users in the New South Wales region, where a pilot has been rolling since 2015, say some requests for music therapy services have been rejected. In some instances, families have been advised to just seek services from speech pathologists who are musical, and told that music therapy just sounds like instrumental lessons.

Click image for larger version.  Name: newborn.jpg  Views: 1  Size: 43.7 KB  ID: 30208
A newborn baby in a Slovakian hospital listens to music. The hospital uses music as therapy for babies separated from their mothers.

Further anecdotal evidence suggests those unhappy with the progress of their plans are unable to change them directly, but instead have been advised to formally request a review, which can take months. Although the NDIS is still being trialled and piloted, anecdotal reports from NSW are that participants will only have limited access to funded arts participation under the scheme.

This hasn’t been the case everywhere. In the Barwon region of Victoria for instance, music therapists have been funded to deliver therapeutic programs; as well as being asked to oversee programs run by non-qualified, community music colleagues to ensure relevant issues are taken into account.

This inconsistency between trial sites has made it difficult to efficiently develop the kinds of programs that will best support participants of the scheme. And the overlap of medical and social models of therapy has compounded that confusion.

A social model of therapy

We developed a practical model of music participation back in 2008 that is similar to the one of therapists and assistants highlighted by the NDIS. But this assumed people’s right to access ongoing and regular participation in music programs.

The NDIS is currently exploring allied health provision through a medical lens with an emphasis on words such as “treatment” and suggestions of short-term “interventions”. These words imply an individualised, expert focus where the trained professional holds the skills to fix a client’s pathology.

In a social model, disability is seen as part of human diversity and therapy aims to change structures and promote empowerment. A program designed with these values is therefore very different from one aligned with the medical model.

The underlying, social philosophy of the NDIS demands a new kind of service provision. Indeed, the change to the scheme has been driven by members of the disability sector who are sick of being pathologised. In anticipation of the new scheme, community music therapy scholars have been establishing a research basis for understanding music as a social practiceand challenging the ways our profession has previously aligned with medicalisation of people with disabilities.

Our research shows a need for a shift in thinking about the provision of community-based music programs before services are ready to provide what people need and deserve from a social model. This will take support and funding, and while a program designed to build community capacity is due to be trialled in the Australian Capital Territory next year, its scope and methods are still unclear.

The money certainly isn’t going to be coming from community arts organisations, whose funding has been slashed across the sector by the current government.
The NDIS has excellent intentions. Its agenda of inclusion emphasises the rights of all people to access mainstream community services. But will people be able to find what they need and deserve through the new funding scheme?

This article was written by Katrina FerranName: Katrina McFerran.jpg Views: 2 Size: 38.0 KB [Professor and Head of Music Therapy, University of Melbourne]


Time is running out to reduce your tax bill and help Support Act


Time is running out to reduce your tax bill through a charitable donation to Support Act: click here to do so now

We wrote to you recently to ask if you can donate to our winter appeal. If this email has crossed with your donation, please accept our gratitude for your support. It really does make a huge difference.
You know all of the people Support Act helps. You may not know their names. You might not have met them. But you know them. You know the roadie who lives alone on welfare after carrying boxes on his back for 30 years…..you know the musician who played with all of them but didn’t save for that rainy day that eventually came……..you know the singer who was a household name and died without any money for a coffin……. You know them, because they are your people.  And they are our people.
You can meet one of those people now. Danny Widdicombe is a Brisbane based musician and Support Act service user whose leukaemia diagnosis threatened him with the poverty line. In Danny’s words, “Support Act saved my family”. Click this image to hear Danny tell his story.



Support Act receives no government funding and competes with 600,000 other Australian charities for donations. We urgently need to raise $50,000 before 30 June to continue providing our vital service. And so we turn to you. Donate here.

I have no doubt that you are asked to donate to good causes all the time. But how many times are you offered an opportunity to make the difference between pain and comfort; to make the difference between despair and hope; to make the difference between humiliation and dignity and even to make the difference between life and death?
That is what I am asking you to do today. Any donation you can make  will make a difference to people like Danny. You can donate easily and quickly here. All donations over $2 will benefit from a tax deductible receipt. If your donation has crossed with our email, thank you for your support.
Please be as generous as you can be – Support Act is your charity.
Best wishes,
Joanna Cave
Chief Executive
Support Act
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APRA AMCOS: Australians call for government investment in local music

The Toorak Times fully supports the Australian Arts community in its broadest sense. We believe a thriving and healthy Arts culture reflects a healthy and vibrant country.

Music in it’s broadest form is a particular form of the Arts we are heavily involved in and so when APRA/AMCOS developed a comprehensive survey on the investment in Australian music, and published the results, we considered it important enough to provide those results through the Toorak Times and our music magazine TAGG.

APRA/AMCOS is an Australian organisation that helps music creators get paid for their work and give music users easy ways to legally play and copy what they like.

APRA AMCOS stands for the Australasian Performing Right Association Ltd and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Ltd, who together are responsible for the non-profit collection and distribution of songwriting royalties to approximately 87,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members, and around 3,000,000 copyright owners worldwide. www.apraamcos.com.au


Australians have voiced their support for federal government investment in Australian music and indicated that a commitment to invest in the industry could influence their vote in the upcoming federal election, according to national survey results delivered this week.

Some 98% of respondents to the APRA AMCOS survey believe the federal government should invest in Australian music. When asked why, respondents answered:
90% It’s an export industry worth millions of dollars to the economy
98% It’s an important part of our culture and identity
90% I like to be able to go and see live music near me
91% It creates job growth and drives innovation
Importantly, 72% of those surveyed confirmed that a commitment to a significant investment in Australian music would influence their vote in the federal election. A further 25% said a commitment to invest would possibly influence their voting decision. 31% of total respondents live in marginal seats.

The survey results are backed by figures that prove an investment in Australian music will drive innovation, domestic jobs and growth, and export potential:
Australia’s contemporary music industry is a multi-billion dollar contributor to the Australian economy, with live contemporary music generating revenue of $2 billion annually.1

The entire contemporary music sector contributes close to $6 billion to the Australian economy annually.2

Contemporary music in Australia generates jobs and growth. Expenditure associated with live music inAustralia is estimated to create close to 65,000 full time and part time jobs.3

Every $1 spent on live music contributes $3 back into the economy.4

Australia is the 6th largest music market in the world.5

More Australian songwriters and musicians are succeeding on the global stage. The number of Australian artists showcasing at international events, supported by the Sounds Australia export office, has grown from 49 per year in 2009 to over 200 per year in 2014 and 2015.6

Australian songwriters broke 2014/2015 records with a 25% increase in international performance royalty income.7

VIDEO – click on the image

Background information:

  • 9,858 people with Australian postcodes were surveyed by APRA AMCOS
  • Survey dates: 6 June 2016 – 14 June 2016
  • Classification of seats as marginal is applied by the independent Australian Electoral Commission using the following definition: “Where a winning party receives less than 56% of the vote, the seat is classified as ‘marginal.”
1. E&Y for APRA Economic contribution of the venue-based live music industry in Australia (2011) & 2014 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey Live Performance Australia (2015)
2. Estimating the Value of the Music Sector (2005-2014)– Music in Australia Knowledge Base>
3. The Economic and Cultural Value of Live Music in Australia, University of Tasmania (2014)
4. The Economic and Cultural Value of Live Music in Australia, University of Tasmania (2014)
5. IFPI data (2014)
6. Sounds Australia


“How do you get a musician off your property?”
“Pay him for the pizza.”

This is no joke in Australia, 2016. Even the Greens want to throw a lifeline to musicians on Struggle Street.

Labor wants to throw much-needed money at the Yarts, some of which might even flow on to a lucky few in the local music industry. At LNP headquarters, the party faithful continues to dream of superfluous coinage trickling down to anyone with sufficient patience.

A bright shining blip, however, is now pulsing on the Jobs’n’Growth Radar.

A package of reforms that would arrest further damage and put the wheels back on a derailed local industry, is being presented to politicians of all persuasions.

The reforms, cleverly engineered by The Association of Australian Musicians (AM), have emerged from the ranks of Australia’s independent musicians. Around 10,000 of them have been galvanised by circumstances dominated by powerful forces hell-bent on leaving artists with only the chewed-off remains of the short end of the straw.

Among the more obvious problems facing Australian musicians who don’t enjoy cushy Beyonce levels of fame, are the difficulties of getting air-play on TV and radio, a depressed live music scene, and under-representation at festivals and in media reportage.

On top of this, copyright is under attack. The current federal government is hoping to limit songwriters and composers from earning royalties for any longer than 15–25 years.

If the new copyright conditions come into force, a song such as The Easybeats’ ‘Friday On My Mind’, could be used without permission from its writers, Harry Vanda and George Young. And they can forget about payment for use of their intellectual property — the song was written 40 years ago.

The reforms proposed by AM, deal with all these problems directly.

AM believes copyright is intellectual property that should be dealt with the same as real property, arguing that it would make no sense at all if a house you built would be free for the taking, 15 or 25 years after you built it.

Where air-play is concerned, the recommended quota for local content simply needs to be enforced. Logically, demand for products and performances would follow and, by extension create further demand worldwide. This would also transform the live music scene and fuel interest that would flow on to service and tourism industries.

The reforms have the potential, across multiple industries, to create many thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.

On Wednesday 15 June 2016, AM will be releasing a policy statement with comprehensive plans to revive the Australian music industry.

Please contact AM for further comment.

John Prior — AM Secretary
The Association of Australian Musicians (AM)
PO Box 150 Erskineville NSW 2043
website: theassociationofaustralianmusicians.com
email: moreaussiemusic@gmail.com
phone: 0424450881