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Applications for the TAC’s annual Small Grants Program will be open from 17 June to 26 July.
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Queensland in Focus by Jason McKey, June 2024

In the last month, we have been consulting with providers in the south-west and watching the federal NDIS legislation pass in the House of Reps.

Helpdesk Top Questions August 2023

Close up of laptop resting on a desk in the foreground. In the background are people walking by.

6/08/2023

Here are some of the questions keeping the NDS Helpdesk team busy over the past month. 

I realise the Worker Orientation Certificate does not expire; however, given the number of recent changes, is there a best practice renewal timeline? 

The Worker Orientation Module is one tool to support staff to understand and abide by the NDIS Code of Conduct. Another is the NDIS Code of Conduct — Guidance for service providers. Part Two, paragraph 11 of the code says:   
 
“NDIS providers should use their existing employee engagement, human resource and governance arrangements to ensure their compliance with the Code. This will include considering whether operational policies and procedures, and training activities reflect the Code. Workers are expected to use these policies, procedures and training, in addition to their own professional experience and judgment, to comply with the Code.” 
 
As you noted, the Worker Orientation Certificate does not expire. However, there may be other strategies your organisation puts in place to ensure staff have an up-to-date understanding of the code. 
 
NDS will keep members informed about changes coming from the Disability Royal Commission and the NDIS Review. We know there will be a focus on quality and safe services.  

Are there any regulations or safety guidelines for recharging powered wheelchairs inside a residence? I cannot find anything online saying a chair should, instead, be charged in a garage or shed; only a tip that the room should be well-ventilated to avoid the charger becoming overheated. Nothing about battery emissions. 

There are no regulations or safety guidelines around recharging powered wheelchairs. Each type of battery has its own specifications and instructions for recharging, which should be included in the operator’s manual. Such instructions should be followed to avoid a breach of consumer law.  

Does the Victorian Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme cover CEOs and other executives? 

The Portable Long Service Authority has advised that employers providing disability services are part of the social and community services sector under the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010. The Social and Community Services Employee classifications are broad and cover employees working in most roles in the social and community services sector, including senior executives and managers with duties compatible with a Level Eight social and community services employee. 

I question the program of supports concept. In the current discussions with the NDIS Review are they looking at ceasing this arrangement? 

Our understanding is that programs of support were introduced to recognise some of the complexities of providing group supports. For example, they help providers minimise the cost to participants who have signed up to a group activity when one of the booked participants does not attend. We know that among NDS members there is a range of views about this model.  

We don’t know if the NDIS Review is looking at this issue, but its Terms of Reference are broad. The recent What We Have Heard report includes sections covering how NDIS supports are priced and structured, along with general planning issues. But there’s no specific mention of programs of support.  

The Review has indicated it is keen to hear case studies and individual stories. If you have ideas for how supports could be better structured, you should share them with the Review. 

I have become involved with a family where the young person has a significant physical disability; he has severe and complex cardiac and lung issues that require ongoing surgeries and medical care to maintain life (not repair damage). This reduces quality of life across all functional domains for both the young person and those around him. NDIS have advised that, on this basis, it is a permanent disability but not lifelong. 

Can you recommend any pathways for advocacy?  

A permanent disability would be by definition, lifelong. 

The family can get support through the National Disability Advocacy Program. The decision may rest on the NDIA’s assessment of the lifelong functional impact of the medical conditions. The family may get assistance from an Occupational Therapist to complete the Access Request Form to demonstrate that there is a substantial impact on functioning in all life domains. 

Contact information
Kym Vassiliou, Project and Engagement Coordinator, 03 8341 4312, submit enquiry/feedback