Last month, the Centre for Social Impact released the 2020 annual market survey of NDIS providers.
Despite small improvements around confidence in costs and the National Disability Insurance Agency, the report found consistently high concerns over pricing, sustainability and cooperation, and made the following recommendations:
- Either resource the NDIA to ensure adequate staffing, thereby addressing time delays, inconsistencies in advice between staff and locations, or outsource functions to appropriately qualified non-government providers.
- Provide more training to NDIA staff around communication with the sector and changes in rules and regulations, thereby helping to rebuilt trust between the NDIA and the sector.
- Investment by the government in independent advocacy to provide high-quality independent advocacy (which will also lift the excessive administrative burden from providers).
- Continue to monitor and improve pricing structures.
As researchers begin a new study into how providers have filled gaps in market stewardship, lead researcher Gemma Carey posited two additional recommendations:
- Ending the flat-rate pricing system and enable some pricing flexibility for providers in crucial markets or regions; and
- Offer real-time demand and supply data for providers.
Now, The Mandarin has sourced official responses from the two core agencies cited in the survey: The National Disability Insurance Agency, and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
While spokespeople have, understandably, avoided commenting directly on some of the more dire findings, their responses shed light on how the bodies are addressing, directly or indirectly, those four recommendations.
NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
As an independent body, the Quality and Safeguards Commission emphasises that they do not “have oversight of the NDIA and therefore do not comment on matters relating to the NDIA.” This, understandably, makes it difficult to respond to the recommendations, most of which concern the NDIA.
Arguably, however, the Commission’s education and regulatory powers — meant to assist NDIS participants, NDIS providers and workers — could fulfill recommendation three’s focus on advocacy and alleviating administrative burdens — as the body continues to grow.
On the survey’s specific findings on the relationship between providers and the Commission — relatively positive, and improving relative to the commission’s state-by-state rollout — a spokesperson notes that they are in the midst of a three-year rollout of “this new national regulatory model” and will commence operations in the final state, Western Australia, on 1 July 2020.
“Our focus is on implementing the necessary structures and processes, to implement the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework, which introduces a national approach to quality and safeguards in the NDIS,” a spokesperson says. “This focus includes stakeholder education and engagement including significant education and up-skilling for providers to become accustomed to the new quality and safeguards requirements.”
The Commission would not respond directly to what challenges they currently face, but notes that their work providing market oversight — through “collecting, analysing and advising on a range of unique data to identify trends and changes in the NDIS market” — is designed to complement existing NDIA work.
“This information will highlight the emerging benefits and risks, service delivery trends, quality issues and other important factors that help governments and the market to shape the NDIS over time,” they say. “The NDIS Commission market oversight role will complement, not replace, the NDIA planning and scheme management role.”
The National Disability Insurance Agency
Similarly, the NDIA would not answer direct questions about whether they would adopt the six recommendations, but did emphasise the body’s work consulting with stakeholders, publishing regular market updates through the COAG Quarterly Report and the NDIS Market Report, and updating prices “to reflect factors like market trends and costs in wages”
“Using the published Market Enablement Framework, the NDIA will continue to monitor the market, and intervene to prevent market failure, where appropriate,” a spokesperson for the NDIA says. “The NDIA continues to work cooperatively with the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments on the development and implementation of a Thin Markets Framework to continue to grow disability supports in remote areas.”
Further, the NDIA’s 2020-21 annual price review has room to improve all six recommendations; the issues paper specifically names administrative burden and pricing framework as areas of improvement.
That review has just wrapped up public submissions and will this month begin industry consultations, with an NDIS Price Guide and Support Catalogue due in May, final prices in June and implementation in July.