NDIS Reboot & What This Means for Providers
The NDIS has been a transformative tool for thousands of people across the country since its launch ten years ago. However, if you are a participant or a service provider of the NDIS, you’ve more than likely encountered some of the systemic issues the government is currently aiming to address.
The 2023 NDIS reboot seeks to implement a series of reform measures to enhance the quality of services and support offered to people living with disabilities, involving various disability support providers. This will streamline the system for easier navigation while placing greater emphasis on addressing the unique needs of and promoting the independence of participants.
If the idea of an NDIS “reboot” has you feeling concerned about your ability to provide care and services for your participants, let’s delve deeper into what this means for us as NDIS service providers.
What is the NDIS reboot?
Turning a great idea into reality necessitates problem-solving skills. The great idea behind the NDIS, which aims to offer life-changing support to individuals with disabilities, continues to persist. Nevertheless, given the complexity of the NDIS system, it is crucial to continuously assess, review, and identify areas for improvement. This approach ensures that the scheme operates at its fullest potential.
The NDIS reboot aims to enhance the system’s effectiveness in delivering vital support to those who truly require it. Its purpose is to streamline processes, ensuring that individuals can access the assistance they need more easily, while also ensuring that funds are allocated appropriately.
The Disability Minister, Bill Shorten, and his team have recognised the need for significant enhancements to the NDIS program and are actively working towards strengthening various aspects of it.
These improvements include:
- strengthening the NDIA workforce;
- fostering better decision-making processes;
- enhancing plan management;
- and implementing stricter measures to combat fraud and overcharging.
These collective endeavours are driven by a deep commitment to cultivating a compassionate and empathetic environment within the NDIS framework, where participants’ needs are prioritised, and their experiences are genuinely user-friendly and participant-centred.
Why was the NDIS reboot implemented?
In his speech, Shorten emphasises the importance of the continuation and improvement of the NDIS. “[It] is something all Australians can be proud of…” but “…fraud and inefficiencies have led to a narrative where cost overrides the reality of return on investment…” If you haven’t already read Bill Shorten’s address, you can find it here.
With estimates of the program costing up to A$97 million by 2033, it runs the risk of failing before it even reaches the next decade. Bill wants to ensure that the program is not only surviving but thriving.
Three key components of the NDIS restoration are to:
- Realign the program with its core values;
- Rebuild public trust and confidence;
- Ensure security and sustainability into the future.
Shorten understands that any changes to the scheme need to be guided by the disability community. To do this, an independent panel has been commissioned to work directly with those living with disabilities and those working within the NDIA, so they can collectively make recommendations for how to improve the agency.
Co-chairs of the panel, Bruce Bonyhady and Lisa Paul will review the design, operations, and sustainability of the Scheme and deliver their findings by October 2023.
What are the major changes introduced in the NDIS reboot?
The goal is to revitalise the entire disability support ecosystem. If you are currently part of the system, you probably recognise its deficiencies: a lack of empathy, often inflated prices, unnecessary complexity, and often traumatising to navigate through.
Although the independent panel isn’t due to release the review until October, the department has outlined six areas of reform for the NDIS and have already started implementing changes.
- Increase and sharpen the NDIA workforce to relieve pressure on current staff and build a more responsive, supportive, sustainable market and workforce. This includes placing more people with lived experience in leadership roles such as disability advocate Kurt Fearnley as Chair of the NDIA Board.
- Move eligible participants to long-term planning. This allows our focus as providers to improve current plans and address changes instead of spending resources on renewing plans annually.
- Increase effectiveness of spending. Maximising benefits for participants by ensuring all supports are evidence-based, reasonable and necessary and cracking down on providers who overcharge.
- Review Supported Independent Living services. One of the largest portions of NDIS funding is spent in this area and too often, insufficiencies have surfaced. The panel is analysing ways to improve home and living decisions for participants with higher needs.
- Target misuse of NDIS funds by identifying fraud and unethical practices by service providers who don’t work towards the best interests of participants. A Fraud Fusion Taskforce was implemented last October and to date it has 38 investigations underway.
Here are some unethical practices to look out for:
- pressuring participants to ask for services or support ratios they don’t need;
- spending participants’ money contrary to their plan;
- asking for or accepting additional fees for a service; and
- offering rewards for taking particular services not on a participant’s plan.
6. Increase community and mainstream supports. Services and facilities need to be more accessible to foster inclusion instead of exclusion. This takes the weight off the NDIS and surrounds participants and service providers with greater support from the larger community.
How will the NDIS reboot affect service providers?
The upcoming NDIS reboot will enable a more streamlined and simplified system for service providers and encourage a more accessible and responsive approach to the needs of our participants. With increased accessibility on the horizon, we are anticipating a rise in demand for community and recreational services.
The introduction of longer plans during the pandemic has given us valuable experience, which benefits both providers and participants. This approach provides us with more time each year to focus on improving and customising participant plans. Instead of being overwhelmed by administrative tasks and negotiations, we can dedicate our efforts to enhancing plans to perfectly match each individual’s needs and preferences. This empowers us to prioritise our participants, and ensure they receive personalised and effective support, resulting in a better overall experience.
As service providers, we must take note of the heightened scrutiny surrounding over servicing and overcharging participants, necessitating a strong commitment to compliance. If you have concerns about being assessed for excessive charges, it is crucial to outline and compare prices within your locality. Additionally, it is essential to maintain accuracy in assessing participants’ needs during your analysis process.