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SECTOR UPDATE

New Haven Farm

Recently, on a sector level we have seen the roll out of two new concepts.

The first occurred on the 1st February 2021 when NDIS rolled out a national worker screening check, following the establishment of the NDIS Commission’s worker screening database. The introduction of the national screening check replaces previous requirements of state-based screening and clearances such as a police check. It is hoped that the implementation of such will effectively make it easier for staff to work between states and decrease the complexity for support staff to meet screening requirements.

With this new approach, every new worker who is employed by a registered NDIS provider will be required to apply for a worker screening check in line with their type of employment. The identity of the worker will need to be verified, following which, the screening unit will conduct a risk assessment to determine whether the worker will receive clearance to be employed. For all current employees, it is now essential that when their current state-issued police clearances expire (all checks currently have a two year expiration) that they be updated with an NDIS worker screening check. For current employees there is no requirement to obtain a NDIS worker screening check until such time as their current checks expire. It is mandatory for all employees of a registered NDIS provider to have obtained clearance to work in the sector.

The second has been the implementation of the Disability Gateway. It has been identified that a significant barrier for people with disabilities to increase their independence and community participation is that themselves and their support network experience significant difficulties in accessing information regarding policies, programs and support. In response to this, the Department of Social Services has implemented the National Disability Information Gateway which is a resource that can be accessed by either people with disabilities (regardless of whether they are an NDIS participant) or their support network and can be accessed via a website (search Disability Gateway), a dedicated phone number 1800 643 787, as well as social media channels. The platform provides access to trusted information and services. It also replaces the previous Disability Information Helpline however to avoid any disruption to services, the same phone number has been utilised.

CEO’S SECTOR UPDATE – DECEMBER 2018

The NDIA recently released its Annual Report for 2017-18. This report definitely put a positive spin on achievements and there is always more than a little bit of data burying. Nevertheless, the data they provide gives a vital insight into how the Scheme is actually performing.

THE FEEL-GOOD STATS
It is easy to get caught up in what is going wrong with the NDIS and the magnitude of the problems we face. No statistic should be used to dismiss the real stress and grief that the Scheme has caused many people with disability and their families. But it is also important, for our own sanity, to remember that there are also some things that are going right. Here are some examples for the annual outcomes’ framework questionnaire:
• 91% of parents of children between 0-6 believe the NDIS has helped their child’s development.
• 82% of parents of children between 0-6 believe it has increased their child’s ability to communicate their needs.
• 69% of parents of children between 7-14 believe the NDIS had improved their child’s ability to develop and learn. It is interesting to note the difference between this and the 0-6 aged group. This makes a strong case for early intervention.
• 71% of Participants over 25 said the NDIS had helped them with activities of daily living.

NON-BLOWOUT
Just a timely reminder that the ‘NDIS blowouts’, which we keep hearing about in the press is completely fake news. This year the Scheme came in under budget, as it has every other year since its inception. Moreover, projections show that it is likely to remain within the Productivity Commission’s estimates in the coming years.

INDEPENDENT PRICING REVIEW
The review report includes interesting information about the impact that the recommendations from the Independent Pricing Review (IPR) have had on providers. Apparently, changes implemented so far have improved providers’ margins by 2-4%. Margins are even higher in rural areas, and for providers working with people with complex support needs. infrastructure.

– Jacques Stap
Chief Executive Officer

CEO’S SECTOR UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2018

As of late June 2018, all of New Haven Farm Home’s clients participating in the NDIS, have a current plan.

Varying from last year’s NDIS plans, the Supported Independent Living (SIL) budget for each of our clients has been reduced. However, many clients have received a community participation budget, which compliments their SIL budget.

Community participation funds can only be used where the client has an identified community participation activity, which is set out in a program and where the client is supported by our staff. Each client has a person specific budget, which is related to their support needs.

As I mentioned in our last newsletter, there have been a number of issues regarding the payment of outstanding NDIS invoices. In March 2018 the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) set up a National Provider Payments Team to assist Service Providers in finalising outstanding invoices. This team will expand its function to increase engagement with the provider sector to understand its business needs.

From October 2018, changes to the NDIS participant pathway will be implemented across Australia. The revised pathway will include the offer of face-to-face planning meetings to all participants and an increased focus on pre-planning and post-plan implementation.
The Government has announced additional staff for the NDIA to deliver this, entailing:
• an additional 750 staff over the next 12 months and training of all planners and front-line staff;
• an increase to the NDIA’s staffing cap (to 3,138 this year; 3,230 next year; and 3,400 thereafter); and
• amendments to the NDIS Act to increase the number of NDIA staff members who can make access decisions and approve plans.
The Government has been subject to criticism for maintaining a tight staff cap on the NDIA at a time when the NDIA needs to lift its capacity and capability. Raising the staff cap, however, is only part of the solution; there is considerable experience and expertise in the non-government disability services sector on which the Agency should draw to improve the quality of planning.

Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme is undertaking two new inquiries, one into ICT infrastructure and the other into the provision of assistive technology.
We are pleased that the Committee is investigating the poorly-performing ICT infrastructure.

– Jacques Stap
Chief Executive Officer

CEO SECTOR UPDATE – AUTUMN 2018

New Haven Farm

Over the last year the NDIA made a number of changes to participants’ NDIS plans. The most significant change was the need to include a Supported Independent Living (SIL) price quotation in each NDIS participants’ package, impacting their budgets. In addition to this, the NDIA decided to allocate a budget for community inclusion activities.

The implementation of these changes took 6-8 months, which affected all clients supported by an NDIS plan as they did not have a full plan for more than half a year.

In September the NDIA made a determination that these participants would receive an interim plan. However, this would only be for 13 weeks. Many of our clients did not have an approved plan until late February or early March, causing significant cash flow issues.

Nevertheless, as many disability support providers were in the same predicament, our industry representative body, NDS, took up the baton and worked with the NDIA and individual organisations, to resolve this financial impediment. There are some clients still without a NDIS plan and we are working hard with the NDIA to resolve this backlog.

In spite of this situation we have been able to maintain support levels to our clients at the required standards. I would like to thank the Board for their prudency and excellent financial stewardship.

As New Haven Farm Home is a Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) provider we would like to have our SDA status acknowledged in each individual NDIS plan. This is not currently the case, and we are still working with the NDIA to resolve a number of outstanding matters regarding SDA payments. We believe that those clients with physical and/or sensory disabilities would require SDA and as a result of this it should be a line item in their NDIS plan. Although we have not been provided with a rationale for the NDIA’s decisions in these matters, we are waiting for an outcome in the next few months.

Those clients who are 65 years old and over are funded by the Continuity of Services by the Commonwealth Department of Health. Currently all clients are fully funded, and services have not been affected. This funding will be reviewed next year.

– Jacques Stap
New Haven Farm Home CEO