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NDS Helpdesk Top 5: September 2019

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9/09/2019

This month has seen a steady increase in questions posted on the NDS Helpdesk. Topics vary from those in relation to Specialist Disability Accommodation, Service Agreements and Provider Travel to questions seeking clarification around the audit process, Behaviour Support Plans and the NDIS Quality and Safeguard Arrangements.

The top five most interesting questions and responses for September 2019 are:

Question 1:

In what situation might the Capacity Building line item 15_038_0117_1_3 Training Parents/Carers be used?

Answer 1: 

The 15_038_0117_1_3 support line item refers to 'training for carers in matters related to caring for a person with disability'. This training could be for items such as manual handling, mealtime assistance, enteral feeds or other quasi-medical support. It needs to relate to building the participant's capacity or the capacity of family or carers. It is not for general training that would be seen as a provider’s general responsibility in employing an appropriately skilled workforce. 

Question 2: 

Can NDIS funds be used for a support worker to accompany the participant while flying to visit their family?

Answer 2:

It would be feasible for a support worker to travel on a plane with a participant. The air fares, accommodation, meals, and any other costs the support worker incurred would be 'out of pocket' fees for the participant and not funded by the NDIS. If deemed reasonable and necessary, the NDIA would fund the hourly rate for 1:1 support for the hours claimed, and the rest would need to be paid separately. Many people in this situation choose to use family members or other arrangements to make sure the participant is safe when traveling. 

Question 3:

Can a provider refuse to take on a participant because they are Plan Managed?

Answer 3:

There is no obligation in the NDIS Terms of Business that compels a provider to support any participant. However, the NDIS Code of Conduct and Practice Standards do require providers to act in the best interest of NDIS participants. The Terms of Business require providers to achieve the outcome of supporting each participant to access the supports that they require. The standards require all entry and exit policies and procedures to be documented and communicated to participants in a way that assists them to understand these policies. Your exit and entry policies may also want to consider the circumstance (if likely) where you may be the only appropriate provider for the participant. 

Question 4:

How does GST work under the NDIS?

Answer 4:

The NDIS Price Guide states: "Most items are GST-exempt, as per Australian Tax Office information about GST and NDIS and the application of section 38-38 of the GST Act. For a small number of items where GST is applicable (for example, delivery fees and building materials), the price is inclusive of GST" (p 21).

If you have been invoiced for GST for items which are GST-exempt, the provider will need to reproduce the invoice with the GST removed. In the case where the items are not GST-exempt, as outlined above, the price is inclusive of GST.  In this case when submitting claims in the GST code field you would enter the appropriate GST code: P1=10% GST, P2=GST Free, P5=GST Out of Scope. More information is available on the ATO website

Question 5:

Our organisation has employed a lawyer to develop the NDIS Service Agreement. They suggest having the agreement signed by the participant, an independent witness and the CEO. Is it a requirement to have the independent witness?

Answer 5: 

The NDIA stipulates that an agreement needs to be in place between the participant and a service provider. Ideally, this agreement should be in written form and signed. The additional requirements suggested by your lawyers of requiring the signature by an independent witness, as well as by the participant and your CEO, provides additional rigor and protection to your organisation. 

We know of many instances where the participant is unable to enter into a contract on their own or where obtaining the signature of an independent witness would not be possible. The NDIA recommend the signing of an agreement but acknowledge that this should not generally be a barrier to service provision. If you cannot obtain a signed agreement or that of an independent witness, you need to have an agreed process in place. For example, you may choose to try to get the independent witness signature but agree to provide services if this is not obtainable, document steps taken to come to an agreement with a participant and why a signed agreement is not in place or you may decide not to provide services.

In Victoria, if a participant has a guardian in place, the Office of the Senior Practitioner has designed two deeds that they use as a basis for agreeing to provide support on behalf on a participant: Miscellaneous Services Deed and Support Coordination Deed.

Thank you for reading the September edition of Top 5. Don't forget, if you are an NDS member and have a disability sector question on your mind, head on over to the NDS Helpdesk and ask away. 

Not yet an NDS member? Apply for NDS membership.

Contact information
Savannah Jewell, Sector Transition Officer, (03) 8341 4300,