As a Hireup user you’ll have received a few emails from us over the last month about the changes to our rates that are coming into effect from next week. If you’ve been part of our community for a while, you’ll probably remember this happening around the same time last year. One of the key parts of building Hireup into the kind of service that we want it to be – one that intuitively understands the value of its service and delivers on that value – is getting our pricing right.
For me personally, the importance of building an efficient, sustainable pricing model for Hireup runs deep. While I was growing up, my family dealt with the tension of finding and affording the right kind of support for my brother every day. It was a constant battle to give my brother access to the same kinds of experiences and opportunities that my sister and I took for granted. In starting Hireup, we knew we needed to ease this tension for families like ours by offering support that was both affordable and effective.
As we continue to work this out, I also keep coming back to the need to clearly communicate the decisions we make in working to achieve this. As conventional wisdom says ‘knowledge is power’ and if we want to right a fundamental wrong in our sector – rebalancing the power dynamic between providers and people with disability and their families by giving individuals more choice, control and freedom to manage their own lives – we’ll need to continue to invest time in being transparent and informative with our growing community.
With this in mind, I want to take this opportunity to explain the logic behind the changes we’ve made to our rates table for the 2018/19 financial year. In essence, there are three central principles that we hold true in designing and adjusting our pricing.
These are: one, building a lean and efficient model that saves people with disability as much money in their support packages as possible; two, paying our support workers industry-leading wages that properly value the contribution they make to our lives; and three, establishing a sustainable business model that’s able to continue investing in growth and innovation for better and more effective services.
The first principle we’ve been working towards since day one is building a lean and efficient model that saves people with disability money in their support packages. As NDIS participants will know, the NDIA sets a pricing limit per hour of support, which changes slightly depending on which state you live in. In 2018/19, the price cap for a regular, weekday hour of support is $48.14 in NSW/VIC/QLD/TAS. These set prices also vary depending on the time of day and the day of the week that the support is being provided. Coming in well under this pricing cap has been a principle for us since day one and this won’t change. We know that by saving people a considerable amount of funding with every hour of support, we are giving them the opportunity to access more and different types of support
For the start of this new financial year, I’m proud to say that Hireup has arrived at a sustainable price point that remains on average 14% below the NDIS set rates across the board. When we first started out three years ago, Hireup prices were around 24% cheaper than the NDIS price, which was our first attempt at getting our pricing right. Since then, we’ve increased prices slightly as the organisation (and the understanding of our cost base) has matured. This year, I’m confident in saying that we’ve found a sustainable approach for the long term and will be able to maintain our current position into the future.
Looking at this year’s pricing on a more granular level, the amount saved per hour starts at $6.14 (on our weekday rate) and goes up from there to a saving of $92.16 on the weekday sleepover rate. To give you a good idea of what this looks like across the full rates table, we’ve included the comparison table below.
We’ve used the price guide for NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania in this table as an example but as you’ll know, South Australia, the ACT, Northern Territory and Western Australia have a seperate price guide. Hireup has even larger cost savings for users in these states.
When you study our new rates table, you’ll notice that one of the major changes we’ve made is to the weekend rates for support. This has gone up by just under $10 an hour by comparison to last year’s rates. This was a tough decision for us as I know personally the importance of weekend support and the debilitating consequences of not being able to access it.
I still remember weekends with my brother like it was last week. He loved sailing. His idea of a perfect Saturday was getting out on the water and hooning about with as much speed and laughter as possible. In reality, we struggled to find him the support to make this happen. In those days, we didn’t have access to the funding or the choice and control that would enable Shane to have this kind of ordinary weekend experience.
Building Hireup into a solution for situations like these, therefore, is vital to me. So the decision to increase the weekend support rate wasn’t taken lightly or without lived experience and understanding of the implications. However, with this new weekend pricing, which is still over $11 cheaper than the NDIS on Saturdays, and nearly $15 cheaper on Sunday, we feel we’ve reached a more sustainable price point that will allow us to go on and build the kind of provider we know Hireup can be for its users.
Since we launched in January 2015, the cost savings we’ve made for people with disability and their families have totaled over $7.4m. This is an extra 176,000 hours of support on Hireup and with every hour affording people a new opportunity to do more with their funding, it’s an achievement I’m incredibly proud of.
The second principle we have committed ourselves to as an organisation is paying our support workers industry-leading wages. One of the things I’ve been surprised by since we started is the common misconception that by charging our users less, we must also being paying our workers poorly. This just isn’t the case with Hireup. By harnessing technology and building the tools for people to manage their own supports, we are able to create cost efficiencies in our model to benefit everyone, including our support workers and their capacity to earn a fair wage.
In the early days of Hireup, we did a huge amount of research and stakeholder engagement. This included taking meetings with various government, regulator and union representatives. These conversations really expanded our ideas on how Hireup should be built and we ultimately made the decision to adopt an employment model, meaning all of our support workers are employees. I’m proud of our online, contractor-free model as a sector-first for Australia and continue to be grateful for the decision we made given the positive and supportive response we’ve had from the sector since.
I knew intrinsically that families like mine needed a platform that would allow us to find, hire and manage our own workers, but we also needed the platform to function as a provider; one that would care about our family and our workers as much as we did. For me, our employment model allows Hireup to do that. We’re able to pay our workers industry-leading wages that include casual and penalty loading, make super contributions on their behalf, provide comprehensive insurance to keep them safe and offer engaging learning and development opportunities to invest in their future.
It strikes me as being quite obvious – building the best possible model for our workers will mean the best possible results for the people with disability and their families in our community.
This is why we continue to use the SCHADS industry award to inform our worker wages. Our starting paypoint, which is $31.55 per hour (including super), is aligned with paypoint 3.2 of the award. The rest of our wages only go up from here. This means we pay at least $3.35 more than the base of the award, which, when averaged out over a year using the industry standard of 22 hours of work per week, pays our workers more than $3,830 above the starting wage of the award.
I’ve been a support worker since I was studying at uni and while I’ve never been in it for the money, and from what I know of the support workers I talk to every day in the course of my work as CEO of Hireup, others aren’t either, I will never underestimate the impact that setting wages like these has on attracting and retaining Australia’s best and brightest support workers.
But these wages and other benefits are just the beginning. There are a number of new ways we’re looking to further develop our employment model and the opportunities it presents. This year, for example, I’m excited to launch a Long Service Leave (LSL) program for all Hireup support workers across Australia, as well as new learning and development features for both workers and people seeking support alike. While ideas like these on a platform like Hireup is unprecedented in the disability sector, I can’t think of a good reason not to address them.
This is why it’s so important to get our pricing right. To strike a good balance between the affordability of our service with the robustness of our model to properly value and invest in our workforce and the platform that is connecting all of the dots.
The third principle in setting our prices is our dedication to building Hireup into a financially sustainable organisation that has the resources not to just satisfy its users, but delight them through constant innovation and investment in our product and community. This year’s changes have allowed us to shore up some of the investments we’d like to make in the operations and infrastructure of the organisation in order to scale Hireup over the coming years. This scale will ultimately deliver a better service for our users as the broader and more robust our network is, the more effective the support will be, enabling more choice for people in finding and building their ideal support teams. It will also allow us to build and deliver some of the features, products and changes you’ve been asking for in using the platform. Please keep these requests coming.
As we continue to grow, develop and improve the service we offer, these three principles won’t change. We will always balance the need to save people money, pay workers well and build a long-term service people with disability and their families can rely on and trust to deliver the choice, control and outcomes they deserve.
With rates that are, on average, 14% cheaper than the NDIS set rates, our alignment with paypoint 3.2 of the SCHADS industry award and a model that continues to deliver value to its users, I think our pricing is now pretty close to where it needs to be. By creating a financially sustainable organisation, we’re investing in the growth, development and future of our community and we’re excited to see where this takes Hireup in the next couple of years.
For those that made it this far through this blog post, thank you for your time. I appreciate your interest in how we approach our work and I hope to share more content like this over the coming year, especially to keep you informed about the changes we’re making and why.
If you would like to chat to any of our team about the changes to our pricing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on (02) 9113 5933 or via [email protected]. And if you share in our vision for the future of Hireup, our community and our sector, please share this around. We’d love to gather as much feedback as possible as we continue to grow.
CEO & Co-founder, Hireup