What do disability support organisations believe about Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)? Using policy belief systems to identify emerging alliances in the NDIS

Mr Brent Hayward1

1University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) continues to increase its foothold in disability services while actively promoting positive behaviour support (PBS). NDIS’ advocation of PBS is welcomed, however it has been criticised for failing to accurately describe PBS and thereby risking the achievement of meaningful outcomes for people with intellectual disability. This presentation continues the analysis of the promotion of PBS but from the perspective of disability support organisations as the providers of services in the NDIS.

Using a qualitative methodology established on an evidence-based policy development and implementation framework paying particular attention to recommendations for improving such research in public administration, as well as deliberately considering a reflexive position, the PBS policies from disability support organisations across Australia were analysed using a networked discourse approach.

The policies of eleven disability support organisations were available for analysis. Policies shared between 0.50 and 0.66 normalised beliefs across domains indicating variation in beliefs. Measures of influence and subgroup detection showed differences across domains and the existence of separate coalitions. Only one organisation’s policy was present in all policy belief coalitions while three others were present in two coalitions. These results suggest the emergence of dominant beliefs about PBS in policies and the subsequent development of alliances.

The deviation of policy from evidence and/or from foundational concepts of PBS may not be apparent in superficial reading of policy. Policy beliefs can have profound impact for people with intellectual disability if these beliefs are not representative of evidence or an acceptable position. There is an opportunity for disability support organisations to be more critical of their policies and the alliances they may be inadvertently forming with other organisations and the NDIS.


Brent is a registered nurse and credentialed mental health nurse. He has worked in a variety of government and non-government roles in health, disability and education. He is completing his PhD in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne where he is investigating the adoption of positive behaviour support in disability services.

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