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NDS launches our 2024 Workforce Census

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Public Advocate report points to the human cost of neglect

Victorian Office of the Public Advocate finds a distressing situation for some adults with disability and mental health issues in specialist accommodation.

Helpdesk Top Questions: February 2024

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If TTP applies to new group pricing

Can you please advise me on whether TTP can still be applied to claims for Group and Centre Based Activities up to 1 July 2024?

We have recently been advised that TTP no longer applies to or can no longer be claimed for Group Supports: "Transitional Pricing for Group and Centre Based Activities Item Numbers used is no longer valid as of 01 January 2024".

We can find nothing on the NDIS website that contradicts our understanding that TTP continues to apply to Group Pricing until 1 July 2024.

The NDIA have advised NDS that TTP line items for group activities are still available (Pages 60 to 61 of the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits 2023–24). There is no end date yet on those items.

My Aged Care and allied health services through CHSP funding

We've learned of an NDIS participant who, upon turning 65, has received a My Aged Care referral code for getting allied health services through CHSP funding. Their objective, as stated on the My Aged Care portal, is to receive allied health services while waiting for an NDIS review for funding.

Our understanding has been that when an NDIS participant reaches 65, they can either continue under NDIS, or transition to CHSP if that is deemed more suitable, but not both simultaneously. However, it's unclear whether there have been any recent changes to this policy and we couldn't locate relevant information on the NDIS website.

This situation has become particularly relevant given the observed decline in demand for dietetics and podiatry services following the release of the disability health-related supports guidelines.

Additionally, with the recent NDIS review emphasising a smoother transition between NDIS and Aged Care, there may be evolving dynamics at play. We are keen to understand any updates or clarifications on this matter.

Your understanding is correct. When NDIA participants turn 65, they can move from NDIS funding to Aged Care funding. They cannot receive funding from both systems and, once they leave NDIS funding after they have turned 65, they cannot go back.

In the NDIS Review, the idea of being able to get funding through both systems was raised. However, this is not in place and, at this stage, is just a recommendation to government. It may or may not be implemented.

The NDIS participant must choose carefully. If they take up My Aged Care funding, they will no longer be eligible for NDIS funding.

SWS grading – classification for supported employee

I am curious about the classification of a supported employee doing three days of gardening and one day as a farmhand. Is it accurate, according to the SWS grade, that they can only be assigned to a single grading level?

Depending on the nature of the tasks, it is possible to consider paying the employee a different rate for their farmhand responsibilities if these fall within a higher grading level. This approach mirrors the concept of compensating for higher duties work, outlined in clause 15.6 of the SES Award.

According to clause 15.1 of the award, employees are typically graded in one of the levels specified in Schedule A. However, if the farmhand duties warrant a higher grade, you may choose to stick to the practice outlined in the SES Award and pay accordingly for that specific day.

Alternatively, for simplicity and consistency, you could opt to pay the employee for all four days at the grading level assigned for their gardening work. This aligns with the rounding-up principle that ensures employees are not paid at a lower rate than their designated position grade.

PACE and behaviour support services

I have a query about the NDIS's new PACE system and behaviour support. My understanding is that participants will need to approve supports and services through PACE. How will this work with behaviour support services?

In the PACE system participants can specify the providers from which they are receiving services. They will be in the PACE system as one of the participant’s My Providers. When payment requests come in from these providers, they will be automatically processed. Participants or their nominees can also add or remove organisations from their My Provider list by contacting the NDIS call centre.

For payments to new service providers, the participant will receive a text message to authorise the payment to the new provider.

Here is what the NDIA says on their website about payments to providers not listed as My Providers:

"Claims from providers on an Agency-managed participant’s plan, who aren’t recorded as my providers will be validated before they are paid. We’ll (NDIA) check with the participant, or their nominee, by SMS to confirm this support has been delivered as agreed.

“Participants will need to call the NDIS on 1800 800 110 within 6 days from when they receive the SMS. We (NDIA) will let the participant know what service the claim is for.

“During the phone call, the participant can let us (NDIA) know if they agree to the service by accepting the claim. When the claim has been accepted it will be processed for payment.

“If a participant does not agree to the service, they can let us know by disputing the claim. We will review the claim and contact the provider if we need more information.

“The outcome of our review will be visible in the My NDIS Provider Portal. Claims that are not authorised for payment will be marked as ‘rejected’.

“If the participant or their nominee does not call after receiving the SMS, the claim will be processed for payment after 7 days. This process will generally take 10 days before the claim is paid.

“Claims from providers for specialist disability accommodation, home and living supports and behaviour supports who aren’t listed as a My provider for the participant's plan will automatically be rejected."

For more information on the PACE system, please see the NDS website for key links and resources.

COVID-19 Vaccines for workforce

Could you please guide me on whether support workers and staff are required to receive the third COVID-19 vaccination dose?

There are no mandated requirements for disability workers to have or maintain COVID vaccinations. All state and territory mandates ceased by the end of 2022.

Since there are no mandates applying, the requirement to have a COVID-19 vaccination is the responsibility of individual disability providers. Any decision to require workers to have a vaccination (COVID-19, influenza or other type) needs to be defined in policy and procedure that has been developed following a consultation process with all staff. This applies to the introduction of a new vaccination requirement or where a previous requirement no longer applies.

The Fair Work Commission and Work Safe authorities from the states and territories have guidance on how to conduct a staff consultation properly and how to assess risk in relation to worker positions and vaccination.

If you are going to make any decisions about vaccinations and vaccination policy, it is important to review the COVID-19 guidance of the Fair Work Commission and on the WorkSafe Victoria Coronavirus page. (or other state WorkSafe authority).

Your decision can be informed by the ATAGI guidance that recommends that people should get a COVID-19 vaccination whenever they become eligible for a new dose. We are expecting ATAGI to release information about a 2024 dose sometime this month and we will pass the details on in a NDS news update.

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