Y2K & the NDIS

By Jason Cartwright, Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Australia

My experience with the Y2K bug helped HCA design its NDIS business strategy

Back in 1999, I was working as a Junior Recruitment Consultant in the banking and finance sector. It was a big year for everyone, with the Year 2000 problem, also known as the ‘Millennium/Y2K bug’, creating fear and uncertainty across the world.

The Y2K weighed heavy on the minds of banks and financial institutions with many companies around the world investing millions to ensure that assets and financial systems were protected. The problem was that computer programs displayed years as two digits instead of four, and subsequently feared computers would interpret 00 as 1900 instead of 2000 since the prefix of 19 was automated.

In retrospect, nothing really happened on NYE 2000. But of course, billions of dollars were invested in 1999 and earlier to ensure that various systems would correctly tick over to 2000 at the stroke of midnight.

I recall a banking customer calling late one Friday afternoon fretting about the impending Y2K bug and how his systems were going to cope. The client was very direct that he needed a ‘Y2K Expert’ to start as soon as Monday to ensure the bank systems would handle the date change.

Like all recruiters I took the job brief and assured the client I would be back in touch shortly with suitable candidates. Upon presentation of the applicants, the client was perplexed, none of the candidates I had submitted were experienced experts in working with the Y2K problem. I quickly informed the client that the Y2K bug had not yet happened, so there was no such thing as ‘experienced’ or ‘expert’, but all applicants had technical experience in working and developing various banking and financial systems.

In 2017, Healthcare Australia (HCA) launched our NDIS services and successfully delivered Disability Support Services to more than 100 customers in a little under a year. The success of the launch and ongoing services, now as HCA Home, is a testament to the team at HCA who have built this business from the ground up.

I was recalling the story of the Y2K bug as I reflected on what HCA had achieved in 2017. When we started planning our strategy and approach to the NDIS in 2014, the first thing I thought was that we needed to find a NDIS expert to design and build our strategy. Of course, as a new program there was no such thing as an ‘expert’. The NDIS was still in trial phase and the NDIA with industry advice was building the systems, processes and policies to ensure its success.

Instead, in 2015 we acquired the Randstad Care business. Randstad Care, like everyone else at the time, was not delivering NDIS services, however what they did have was a qualified team with very broad experience across the disability services industry.

The team worked to design, build and implement HCA’s NDIS business strategy and officially opened for services at the end of 2016. As I reflect on the close of 2017, the team went above and beyond to deliver the objectives and targets they had set. But more importantly, they built a sustainable and successful business model which allows for a perfect balance of economic and duty of care in service delivery.

However, none of this success has been from an ‘expert’ leader or consultant. It was built from the ground up through collaboration between a wide range of stakeholders with all types of experience and skills from business, healthcare and disability industries.

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