InLife is an online disability support and service provider, with online tools that connect a dedicated team of assistants to people in need of disability support services.
Launched with the rollout of the NDIS in 2015 by David Clarke and Louise Dunkley, the non-profit organisation provides a system for those in need of assistance to select their own schedules and carers so they can focus on living their lives.
David Clarke talked with Hub Australia about the growth of InLife, the NDIS, and what he prioritises in the business’s growth.
How did InLife begin?
I spent most of my career as a management consultant, helping government and private organisations with change management. As part of that, I learned about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) when it began rolling out.
I saw that all the NGOs previously doing disability services would really struggle to make the changes they needed for the NDIS, and I decided to get out of consulting and into the start-up world.
The point of InLife was to design a business and way of working specifically for the new model of the NDIS.
Very early on I met my co-founder Louise Dunkley, who has 20 years’ experience in the disability sector. Between her experience in the industry and my knowledge about how organisations work and our mutual desire to make a difference, we got together and founded InLife in mid-2015.
What difference does the NDIS make to the industry?
The NDIS is a big change for the disability sector – it used to be a traditional social service where the government would fund an organisation and then clients would be allocated to them. Now the funding goes directly to the participants, and they get to decide how it’s spent.
It can be life-changing because the total government funding available for disability services has increased a lot too.
Both of these things are big changes for the sector: disruption and growth are great conditions for a start-up in any industry.
There’s a lot of good things about the NDIS, particularly around letting people be in control of their destiny a bit more. The program itself is taking a while to come to fruition, but it’s the biggest change since Medicare in terms of social services.
The NDIS has been in the media a bit lately: Do you see the NDIS continuing or developing in different ways?
I don’t have personal experience of living with a significant disability, but I can tell you from the experience of my clients that the NDIS is a really great reform. People with disability and their families have often had to battle really hard with the limited support available to them – we’re talking young people living in nursing homes, and people sleeping overnight in their wheelchair because support wasn’t available to get them into bed.
As our society becomes progressive, Australia is able to invest more and it really is money well spent. But right now, the cost of the scheme is the big issue in the press and is what the NDIS will ultimately succeed or fail on – at the end of the day, it’s a deal breaker.
Back when the NDIS was first being talked about, the advocacy was so good that people now have really high expectations about the services and support that will be available. Those expectations are being toned down a bit at the moment, and that can be tricky.
How does InLife work?
InLife provides carers for people living with a disability, through a great online system that gives our clients the power to roster our staff and define their own schedule. This is game-changing in terms of the amount of control people can have over their own care.
We’ve also got a really streamlined and fully online back office, and the savings from that we invest in our front-line staff. Our rates of pay for our carers are higher than the industry Award, and with that, we’re able to screen for people who are more skilled and more motivated to do the right thing by their clients.
We then have a small central team based here at the Hub who are constantly on the phone and email to help our staff out in the field. Understanding the quality of care and what to do when challenging circumstances come up is our #1 priority. We’re working for people who by definition have challenges in their daily lives, and our job is to help them work through those and live a normal life.
What are InLife’s growth plans?
Our goal has always been to be recognised as an innovator on a national scale, helping people with disabilities to lead a full life. We’re a long way from that just yet! But we’ve got nearly 50 clients, 100 staff and turnover approaching $4million per year, so we’re starting to get some traction.
At the moment, we’re focused on expanding throughout Melbourne and into regional areas. That’s why it’s important for us to be at Hub Southern Cross in a central location. Being right next to Southern Cross Station with both the regional trains and all the metro lines is a major plus.
We’ve just upgraded to a 6-person office, and we’re set to add another couple of people in the next few months or so. Not having to worry about facilities and bills is huge for us – we try to automate or outsource as much as we can!
We’re focused on being a modern, high-quality disability agency, and want to put all our energies into our core business.
Being part of a nice environment is important too. Setting the right tone with your working environment is a critical part of getting the culture right in your business – that was a big part of our choice to join Hub Southern Cross.
Hub Southern Cross has many members working to change the world for the better. As a B Corp, Hub Australia knows that businesses have the ability to make a great impact on the world around them. If you dream of working in a business environment that cares about more than just the bottom dollar, contact Hub today.