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MSA welcomes Productivity Commission findings and recent NDIA announcements

NDIS
19 October 2017

Productivity Commission report recognises disability sector issues

MS Australia joins other disability sector organisations in welcoming the findings of the recent report from the Productivity Commission’s review of NDIS costs.

The Commission’s report findings indicate that it has listened carefully to NDIS participants, service providers and peak bodies and taken on board many of the issues raised; we were pleased to see the NDIS cost review also considers quality issues.

It’s encouraging to read from the Report’s key points that a/ “Early evidence suggests that many (but not all) NDIS participants are receiving more disability supports than previously, and they have more choice and control” and b/ recognition that, “greater emphasis is needed on pre-planning, in-depth planning conversations, plan quality reporting, and more specialised training for planners”.  The NDIA’s new Participant Pathway (see below) may go some way to address these matters.

Many in the MS community have been concerned about jurisdictional issues, between different levels of government (State and Federal) and different sectors (especially disability and health), leaving some participants without services. As such, we’re pleased to read in the Report that, “Governments must set clearer boundaries at the operational level around ‘who supplies what’ to people with disability, and only withdraw services when continuity of service is assured”.

Recommendations regarding the NDIA’s price capping approach are also welcome.  The Report says that price setting be transparent, evidence-based, independent and timely.  Our MS service providers will welcome this news, as this will encourage further provision of disability supports and improve participant outcomes.

Of major concern is the finding that, “the disability care workforce will not be sufficient to deliver the supports expected to be allocated by the NDIA by 2020”, and that “the reality is that the current timetable for participant intake [475,000 participants by 2019-2020] will be not be met”.

This is disappointing news.  MS Australia and many other organisations have been lobbying Federal Governments since NDIS inception, for ongoing commitment to its full funding and timely roll out. As such, we’ll be keen to see plans on how this potential major stumbling block will be addressed.

NDIA announces new Participant Pathway

The trial of a new NDIS participant pathway is in response to the many issues raised by participants and organisations regarding planning and implementation.

The NDIA says the new pathway “will ensure that participant’s and provider’s experience with the NDIS is outcomes focused; reliable and trusted; vibrant and connected; and consistent and straightforward.”

The new pathway will be progressively piloted and tested over the coming months, before being rolled out nationally, and the NDIA plans to engage with stakeholders on its testing and implementation.

Features of the new pathway include:

  • A consistent point of contact, who plays a key role in empowering participants to achieve outcomes  
  • Planning undertaken with a skilled Local Area Coordinator or NDIA planner who will spend time understanding the unique needs of each participant
  • A stronger focus on the broader supports system for people with disability, including other government services such as health, education and transport, to promote greater inclusion and a sense of community for people with disability
  • Communication which emphasises NDIS objectives, with a clear focus on outcomes and goals during planning discussions
  • Clear, consistent information available in accessible formats, such as plain English and braille
  • Improved NDIS portal and tools, and easier processes intended to reduce providers’ administrative cost.

MS Australia is very pleased that the NDIA has taken this step in response to the many issues we have raised on behalf of the MS community, in numerous submissions and at various forums, (as other organisations have done for their communities).  We will watch this development with great interest and look forward to the pilot results.

For the full announcement and more information visit the NDIA website:

https://www.ndis.gov.au/news/pathway-experience.html

NDIA announces price limits for Short Term Accommodation (Respite) will be increased

MS Australia also welcomes the NDIA announcement that, following consultation and feedback from participants and providers, and in line with early findings of the Independent Pricing Review, price limits for short term accommodation will be increased from 30 October 2017.

The NDIA recognises that short term accommodation assists participants with complex needs to maintain their informal supports and continue living at home. The NDIS aims to ensure that people with disability can remain in the family home if this is an individual’s preference.

The NDIA states that, “the increases to the price limits will assist many participants by ensuring providers of short term accommodation services can remain financially sustainable.”

The new, variable pricing structure, takes into consideration whether the support is delivered on a week day, weekend or public holiday; as well as the participant’s requirements for standard, high intensity or one-to-one support.

The NDIA will publish the updated price guides on its website and complete changes to the provider portal, to ensure prices are effective from Monday 30 October 2017.

MS Australia is very pleased that the NDIA has also taken this step in response to the issues raised on behalf of the MS community by participants, providers and organisations, keen to see improvements to the NDIS.

The full announcement is available from the NDIA website:

https://www.ndis.gov.au/news/sta-statement.html