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Disability Loop eNews Issue #48, Summer 2020
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A good way to find out more about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

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Welcome to Disability Loop eNews for summer 2020. We are re-issuing this newsletter as one of the URL links was incorrect.

Here you will find recent news about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and helpful NDIS-related resources either from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) or from other organisations.


AFDO NDIS Information Sessions in Sale and Mildura

If you find yourself saying “I have my NDIS plan; what are the next steps?”, then this session could be for you! The Disability Loop team has developed an information session for people with disability and their families or carers, called “Getting the Most Out of Your NDIS Plan”. The information and resources you will receive at the session have been designed to assist you to gain maximum benefit when putting your plan into action.

During a two and a half hour session, you will gain knowledge about key NDIS concepts, be given many useful suggestions and tips, and feel more empowered and confident in how to implement your NDIS plan.

We use accessible venues and materials, and we provide a break, refreshments and accessibility supports to attend as needed.

Our next information sessions will be held in February at Sale and Mildura. You can learn more about our NDIS sessions and register by visiting our Disability Loop Events page.

Getting the Most Out of Your NDIS Plan

1. Sale – Outer Gippsland Region
Thursday 20 February 2020, 10:00am-12:30pm.
Please register by 13 February 2020.

2. Mildura – Mallee Region
Thursday 27 February 2020, 10:00am-12:30pm.
Please register by 20 February 2020.

If you have any questions or would like assistance with registering, please email or call us on (03) 9662 3324.

person standing with whiteboard that reads "NDIS".


NDIS assistance in bushfire affected areas

NDIA staff are joining the Department of Human Services Mobile Service Centres and Mobile Service Teams deployed across New South Wales and Victoria. The locations are listed on the NDIS website.

NDIA staff will be available to discuss any additional support needs with participants, their families and carers. The NDIA is able to support participants once people are out of immediate danger.

NDIA Contact Centre staff have been provided with information and advice on how to escalate any enquiries about participants impacted by bushfires.  You can call the Contact Centre on 1800 800 110.


Portal changes for automatic plan extensions

The NDIA have taken steps to address an issue participants and providers experienced when there is a gap between the end of a plan and a new plan being approved.

In some circumstances, the gap meant participants were unable to pay for supports until a new plan was in place. In early August 2019, the NDIA began automatic extensions of plans due to lapse within seven days. By extending the plan for 28 days, participants can continue to access supports and services during the plan review process. The extension also means providers can continue to claim for the supports they have provided until the new plan is approved.

The NDIA tell us though that it is always their aim to ensure that participants’ plans are reviewed and updated well in advance of their lapse date. The changes will only impact a very small proportion of participants.


Disability Related Health Supports 

From 1 October 2019, NDIS participants will be able to receive funding for the disability-related health supports they need as a direct result of their disability, and as part of their daily life, through their NDIS plans. 

The NDIS now funds disability-related health supports for participants who need help to manage a range of needs including those associated with continence, respiratory care, nutrition, wound and pressure care, dysphagia, diabetes, podiatry and epilepsy.

Most participants will get disability-related health supports included in their NDIS plan at their next plan review if considered reasonable and necessary.

The Agency has also updated the 2019-20 Price Guide and Support Catalogue to include more than 90 disability-related health supports now funded under the NDIS. 

A suite of information for participants, providers and the health sector, including Easy English versions, and further information is available on the Disability-Related Health Supports page on the NDIS website


New NDIA CEO Appointed

Martin Hoffman has been appointed the new CEO of the NDIA. Martin has been both a commonwealth Deputy Secretary and Secretary of the NSW Department of Finance, and will take up the job for a three-year term from 4th November 2019.


First NDIS Participant Employment Strategy 

On 7 November 2019, the Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert launched the first NDIS Participant Employment Strategy. The Strategy sets out the NDIA's commitment and action plan for supporting NDIS participants to find and maintain meaningful employment. It is all about giving more people with disability, who have the capacity to work, greater choice and access to the right supports to achieve their employment goals. 

The Participant Employment Strategy outlines the aim to have 30% of NDIS participants of working age in employment by June 2023. It details more than 50 actions to be undertaken over three years to:
  • Increase participant aspiration and employment goals in NDIS plans;
  • Increase participant choice and control over pathways to employment;
  • Improve confidence of employers to employ NDIS participants;
  • Lead by example as an employer of people with disability.
To learn more, visit the NDIS website, and read the Minister’s media release.

woman working at a shop counter.

Change to transport supports

Source: VALID e-newsletter issue #26 November 2019.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Disability Reform Council (the Council) met on Wednesday 9 October for its second meeting for 2019 in Sydney, New South Wales. One of the highlights of the meeting was that the Council endorsed an approach to improve the provision of transport supports under the NDIS.  This includes interim measures to increase transport funding for NDIS participants who are significant users of taxi subsidy schemes, and the full reimbursement of states and territories for the continuation of their schemes for NDIS participants until longer-term transport support policy and funding is resolved.

You can read the full Communique which is available in PDF and Word.


The new NDIS Plan

On 14 November 2019, the Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert announced a new plan to improve the NDIS. The Plan has six focus areas with specific activities assigned to each area to ensure the NDIS becomes what it was intended to be. These areas are:
  1. Quicker access & quality decision making: The aim is to improve the quality of service to NDIS participants, their families and carers, including faster access and decision making timeframes to increase participant satisfaction.
  2. Increased engagement & collaboration: The aim is to support all people with disability and their carers to engage in the NDIS and their local communities.
  3. Market innovation & improved technology: The aim is to deliver an innovative and smooth assistive technology experience for participants and providers to access the NDIS and deliver a capable, efficient and sustainable market.
  4. A financially sustainable scheme: The aim is to ensure a financially sustainable scheme that integrates seamlessly with mainstream service systems. 
  5. Equitable and consistent decisions: The aim is to deliver equitable and consistent access and planning decisions by implementing such things as consistent, independent functional assessments and more plan flexibility.
  6. Improve long term outcomes: The aim is to improve long term outcomes for NDIS participants, their families and carers in areas such as employment and accommodation.
You can read the Minister’s speech on the Department of Social Services website.


NDIS Price Review for 2020-2021

On 20 November 2019, the Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, announced the commencement of the Annual Price Review to help determine the price limits set for services bought under the NDIS, and the related rules for pricing for the 2020–ؘ21 financial year.

Participants, their families and carers, service providers, community, peak bodies and other disability sector representatives are encouraged to provide feedback as part of the Review.

Feedback will help the Government identify options to improve the flexibility for participants to purchase supports to meet their goals. This yearly Price Review will examine whether the existing pricing structure and other pricing related policies under the NDIS continue to be appropriate, or whether modifications are required. 

The Annual Price Review consultation page on the NDIS website has more information, and includes an Issues Paper, information about how to make a submission and the review timelines.

Submissions to the review close on 3 February 2020, with any changes to be announced at least one month before they take effect on 1 July 2020.


NDIS Planning Interim Report.

The Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS has released the first of their reports - the NDIS Planning Interim Report. The report outlines 14 recommendations, several of which focus on NDIS planning timelines and the participant's involvement in the drafting process. They also call for extra training for NDIA staff to increase their awareness and familiarity with all types of disability.

The 14 recommendations are outlined in the Report, but in brief, they include: 
  • That participants get to see their draft plan.
  • A face-to-face meeting before plans are approved.
  • The participants can amend part of a plan when needed.
  • Plan reviews to be completed within 45 days.
  • Simple communication and consistent terminology.
  • Better training for LACs and planners.
  • Participants to be able to pay for transport out of core funding.
You can read the NDIS Planning Interim Report here or the List of recommendations here.


New option for assistive technology support under $5,000

The NDIA recently announced some changes to assistive technology (AT) funding. From October 2019, a new option for the funding and supply of certain AT supports costing between $1,500 to $5,000 was introduced. 

The NDIA recognised that some AT supports are relatively standard. With appropriate advice from an AT assessor, participants can now obtain items within the new support items using the funding within their plan. Items can be purchased from providers without the NDIA having to first review the advice. 

This funding option is limited to nine new general AT support items and will only be funded if listed as a reasonable and necessary item within a participant’s NDIS plan. The items all come under the Capital budget part of a plan because they are higher cost AT or relate to home modifications.

The nine items are:
  • Assistive Products And Accessories Relating To Prosthetics And Orthotics; 
  • Assistive Products And Accessories For Personal Care, Hygiene, Beds;
  • Assistive Products Relating To Vehicles And Transport Safety;
  • Assistive Products And Accessories Relating To Personal Mobility Or Transfer;
  • Assistive Products And Accessories Relating To Participating In Household Tasks;
  • Assistive Products And Accessories Relating To Home Modification And Access;
  • Assistive Products And Accessories Supporting Comms And Information Needs;
  • Assistive Products Relating To Vision;
  • Assistive Products Relating To Recreation And Sport.
There will usually be a description in the comments section of that part of the plan to explain what is to be sourced e.g. “Support is for a standard shower commode - typical price $2,200. Please obtain an assessment and retain proof of purchase as the Agency can request this at any time. You are responsible for seeking advice from a suitable assessor to ensure you purchase the right AT product.”

The key aspects of these changes are:
  • The current arrangements for low-cost AT (with funds in the Consumable budget) remain with no changes;
  • Participants will be encouraged to obtain written assessment advice before proceeding to buy AT, which may prove helpful in the case of damaged, faulty or incorrectly prescribed AT needing to be returned under Australian Consumer Law. Funding for this advice is provided in the Capacity Building budget;
  • Assessment advice does not need to be provided to the NDIA but it is recommended to file it for future reference;
  • AT items that are not covered within the above price range are likely to require an assessment and a single quote before they will be included in a participant’s plan.
Further information about these changes is available at the NDIA website.

Are you in the loop?

Stay up-to-date with information about the NDIS by following the links below to our website and social media pages.

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