Decolonising the NDIS: a third space to account for First Nations' values

Publication Name

Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal


Purpose: This paper aims to investigate how embedding accounting techniques of cost and budgeting within the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) potentially perpetuates colonial practices for Australian First Nations people living in remote areas. Further, the paper aims to explore how accounting might help to integrate the unique modes of accountability First Nations people have over disability care into the NDIS funding system. Ultimately, the aim is to discern whether accounting practices can be mobilised as a means to decolonising the NDIS framework. Design/methodology/approach: This study uses a qualitative methodology to analyse public hearings from the Australian Disability Royal Commission. Drawing on Bhabha's (1994) concept of the “third space”, this study investigates how accounting techniques can be used to potentially decolonise the NDIS. This study also borrows Bhabha's (1994) concept of the third space to explore the potential for decolonising the NDIS through accounting techniques. Findings: Findings show that the accounting techniques pertaining to funding and costs embedded within the NDIS contribute to displacing and disconnecting First Nations people from their cultural practices and ways of life. Further, the analysis reveals that the NDIS funding system could help to decolonise the NDIS space if it were modified to incorporate First Nations' perspectives on accountability for disability care. Originality/value: The case of the NDIS exposes glimpses of colonisation in contemporary Australia, where Western institutional and economic systems dominate over the structure and authority of the practice. In this paper, this study demonstrates that the accounting system used by the NDIS plays a role in marginalising First Nations people. However, accounting, as a technology of negotiation, could also be mobilised to enhance accountability for disability care outcomes and pave the way for decolonising public policies.

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