Disability providers have welcomed the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) price increase through a $850 million injection into the Scheme announced by the Department of Social Services on Saturday.
Prices for NDIS funded therapy, attendant care and community participation will be boosted, effective 1 July 2019 with a minimum increase of almost $11 per hour for therapists and up to 15.4 percent to the base limit for attendant care and community participation.
Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher says the Department had consulted with participants, providers and the disability sector on the price increases.
“We are committed to the development of a vibrant disability services market that enables NDIS participants to have a genuine choice and control over the services and supports they need,” he says.
“These changes form part of the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) annual price review to update prices that reflect market trends, cost in wages and other influences.”
Mr Fletcher says the pricing surge is also in response to the current NDIS market and emerging issues.
Former Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner and member of the NDIA Pricing Reference Group, Graeme Innes welcomes the increases.
“We endorse the changes because we are satisfied that the increases are reflective of the adjustment that is needed to address sector concerns and ensure participants continue to be supported in achieving their goals.”
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and spokesperson for Alliance20, an alliance representing Australia’s largest disability service providers, Andrew Richardson says although there is more to do to ensure sustainability of the Scheme, this is an important step forward.
“We have been staring down the barrel of NDIS market failure, large-scale service closures and people with a disability being unable to access support services, so this is a very welcome announcement.
“We are also relieved that the announcement includes purchasing power for participants, who will have their plan values increased to cover these higher prices.
“The last thing we want is for people with a disability to be forced to cut back on the supports they need.”
However, Mr Richardson says pricing is not the only issue with the NDIS.
“Alliance20 members are keen to see rapid improvement in participant planning and reviewing processes, transport arrangements, employment supports, workforce development, support for people with complex needs and people living in remote areas.”
In addition to the price increases, National Human Services Programme Manager for SAI Global, Nathan Temple forecasts the disability sector will see six major improvements this year.
These include accurate worker screening records, better recording of incidents, harmful situations and accidents. helping all people with disabilities to understand and exercise their rights, ensuring people with disabilities receive a high standard of continued support, documenting the requirements and outcomes of participants with disabilities and detailed procedures for high-risk activities
“We believe this is good news for people with disabilities and for the industry as a whole,” Mr Temple says.
Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia Matthew Bowden welcomes the pricing increases but not if it comes at the cost of people with disability.
“... we will be watching closely to make sure that this increase doesn’t come out of people with disability’s plans, or causes any decrease in the amount of available support.
He says there are ongoing issues with the NDIS that need to be fixed.
“Our priority isn’t the pricing, but on making sure that people with disability have equal access to the NDIS in the first place.
“We want to see the staffing cap removed, and better training on disability rights for all NDIA staff, as well as a single point of contact for people with disability.
“Any improvement to NDIS markets have to focus on those groups of people with disability who are currently missing out - women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
“We need targeted programs to reach these communities of people with disability, delivered in partnership with those communities.”
The details of the price increases will be released in the coming months, to be effective as of 1 July 2019 with the release of the updated NDIS Price Guide.