This week, Minister for the National Disability and Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Stuart Robert, announced greater flexibility and increased choice for NDIS participants when accessing transport funding.
From 1 March 2020, NDIS participants will be able to use their plan’s core support funding to claim service provider costs associated with transporting participants to and from NDIS funded community-based activities.
Minister Robert says the transport funding in NDIS plans has always been about assisting participants in accessing the community and in maintaining or increasing their independence.
Providers can claim the transport funding as a separate item as part of the support they are delivering to participants.
Minister Robert says, “This change will give participants more autonomy in their plans, and greater choice and control over the services and supports they need.”
Providers will be able to claim some of their vehicle running costs when offering transport to a participant in conjunction with the community activities identified in their NDIS plan.
These costs are in addition to the support worker’s time and will be factored at a per-kilometre rate.
Minister Robert says that these changes to transport funding now mean participants will have a consistent process to cover their transport costs with providers.
He added that the transport funding improvements will build on the positive momentum in resolving the long-standing issues regarding the interface between the NDIS and transport supports.
In October 2019, the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Disability Reform Council (DRC) endorsed an approach to improve the provision of transport supports under the NDIS.
They endorsed interim measures to increase transportation funding for NDIS participants who are significant users of the taxi subsidy scheme, as well as a Commonwealth commitment to fully reimburse states and territories for their taxi subsidy schemes for NDIS participants from 1 January 2020 until 31 October 2021.
There are three new participant transport support levels, according to the NDIS website.
For level one, the NDIS will provide up to $1,606 per year for participants who are not working, studying or attending day programs, but are seeking to enhance their community access.
For level two, the NDIS will provide up to $2,472 per year for participants who are currently working or studying part-time (up to 15 hours a week), participating in day programs and for other social, recreational or leisure activities.
For level three, the NDIS will provide up to $3,456 per year for participants who are currently working, looking for work, or studying at least 15 hours a week, and are unable to use public transport because of their disability.
In exceptional circumstances, participants may receive higher funding if they have either general or funded supports in their plan to enable their participation in employment.
Minister Robert says that this is not the last of the changes being made to the NDIS.
“As we deliver our plan for the final 20 percent of the NDIS, we will continue to make considered changes that ensure the sustainability of the scheme while maintaining the core objective of choice and control for participants, [this] announcement strikes that balance,” says Minister Robert.
It is expected an updated NDIS Price Guide and Support Catalogue will be made available in the coming weeks.