25 October 2021
On October 7th, responses were due to the NDIA’s proposed legislation changes. First2Care made the most of the opportunity by responding with recommendations and comments that best reflect what we wish to see for our clients and providers.
This includes holding the Agency accountable for its compliance and enforcement priorities for the next year, which need to be equally prioritised in the legislation. Two NDIS priorities of particular interest here are prevention of harm, and management of conflicts of interest.
We addressed the following topics in our response:
• We agree that the NDIA should be putting effort into preventing harm by means of moving participant preference of management style from a default of agency managed to more of an ‘opt-in’ approach. As it stands, when a new plan is set up or a plan review happens, plans are automatically managed by the NDIA, unless the participant requests specifically to be plan managed or self-managed. We propose that this is unfair to participants’ rights to choice and control, and instead every participant should be able to comfortably weigh up all their options and choose freely.
• Organisations that currently provide both support coordination and plan management, described as joint organisations in our response, directly contradict the Agency’s own legislative Rules and Measures. This is because, as the Agency states, “there is a risk that that person may inappropriately influence the participant’s choice of providers of other supports specified in the statement of participant supports.” We believe that support coordinators who also provide plan management cause financial harm to participants and disregard participants’ autonomy as well as NDIS’ core principle of choice and control. These joint organisations give themselves the opportunity to ‘double dip’ into participant’s plans, paying themselves an excessive amount to provide a service that we believe to have severe conflicts of interest.
• There is no mention within the proposed legislation changes of reasonable and necessary criteria, which the disability community has been asking for clarification of for years. As a plan manager, we often hear from clients who are unsure of whether a support or service can be deemed reasonable and necessary. We always do our best to provide advice that is supportive of our clients’ needs, however the lack of regulation and guidelines from the Agency makes it difficult for clients to know this firsthand. This is a guideline that should be far less complex than it is in its current form. We suggest that this becomes legislated so no client misses out on supports that will help them achieve their goals and live a full and happy life.
• We believe that if there is limited understanding of the disability community’s needs and rights, the relevant legislation and its effectiveness will be just as limited. We will always stand up for our clients and providers and will keep you updated in our fight for a better NDIS for everybody.