It is well published in all forms of media that the Australian government is becoming increasingly concerned about the rising cost of the NDIS, so much so that following a National Cabinet meeting that was held in April 2023, an announcement was made that the government intends to reduce NDIS
growth to 8% a year by 2026. Currently, the NDIS is growing at a rate of 14%.
Already, we are seeing the impact with participant plans having reduced funding and reduced support when they are reviewed and, more frequently, participant plans simply being rolled over as opposed to undergoing a review.
Also announced early this year as part of the federal budget was a commitment of $910 million to improve the NDIS with $429 million to improve NDIA capabilities and systems, $73.4 million to help people manage their NDIS plans, $63.8 million to ensure plans are more transparent and flexible as well as $56.4 million to improve SIL decisions.
NDS CEO Share Concerns
NDS CEO Laurie Leigh has put out a publication which highlights concerns within the sector that predominately focus on the issues around gaining insurance coverage in the disability sector as well as the current
pricing structures and the roll out of a new payment system. It is being reported that approximately 59% of organisations within the sector will experience difficulties in transitioning to a new payment system
and, as such, consider their organisation to be at significant risk should this proceed. Concerns are also high within the sector that the pricing schedule will place organisations under significant financial burden and may
cause many to cease operations. National Disability Services advocates on behalf of the sector and will be taking these concerns to the Minister for NDIS Mr Bill Shorten.
The Federal Court made a decision known as NDIAvDavis in August 2022. This decision focused around the definition of two words; ‘available’ and ‘remedy’.
In order to be eligible for NDIS funding, one criteria under the NDIA Act is that a person has impairments that are or most likely are to be permanent impairments. According to rule 5.4 under the NDIA’s becoming a participant
ruling, it states: ‘‘there are no known, available and appropriate evidence-based clinical, medical or other treatments that would be likely to remedy the impairment”.
Previously, according to NDIA’s operational guidelines, the word remedy was understood to mean a treatment that would relieve someone’s impairment and that the word available meant that there were treatment options that were theoretically available.
However, the Federal Court reviewed this and have defined remedy to mean
something approaching removal or cure of the impairment and available to mean what treatments an individual can in reality access.
This case and the definitions provided by the Federal Court has the potential to significantly expand the population that are eligible for NDIS support.