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News update
25/01/2021
News update

Consultation open on draft NSW Restrictive Practices Bill

Public consultation is now open on the newly released draft Restrictive Practices Bill which outlines how restrictive practices will be regulated in NSW.
News update
22/01/2021
News update

WA State Election: Technology Assisted Voting

Ahead of the March 2021 State General Election, there will be two forms of Technology Assisted Voting accessible to Western Australians when casting their vote.

Helpdesk Top 5: November 2020

Open laptop on a desk and blurry people in background

30/11/2020

It has been another busy month on the NDS Helpdesk. The team have chosen the top five questions to share with you

Question 1:

Where can I find Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) demand data?

Answer 1:

The NDIS recently released SDA demand data in the NDIS Quarterly Report and on the NDIS data and insights webpage under the drop down ‘participant data downloads’. See SDA Enrolled dwellings and NDIS demand data.

Question 2:

Is there a need for the organisation to sign the Service Agreement?

Answer 2:

There is no requirement for a service agreement to be signed by an organisation, however, it is considered good practice to do so. Likewise, it is not a requirement for the participant to sign the agreement.

 An organisation should make every attempt to ensure the service agreement is understood and agreed to by the participant. Where a service agreement remains unsigned, providers should document the steps they have taken to facilitate the participant’s understanding of the service agreement, the supports they are receiving and the costs.

The provider would document when the service agreement was discussed and agreed and which staff member (s) were involved in those conversations.

Suggestions for what to include in a service agreement are outlined on p14 of the NDIS Price Guide.

NDS has prepared a fact sheet on service agreements.

Question 3:

Where can I find information on benchmarks relating to corporate overhead costs of NDS providers?

Answer 3:

Providers eligible for the Temporary Transformation Payment (TTP) and who chose to participate, are required to annually contribute to the market benchmarking survey. The most recent report was released by Deloitte in May 2020.

The report includes overhead and implied margins by size of organization and breakdown costs relevant to costs like, salaries, insurance, audit, accounting, IT, marketing etc. It provides a good picture of the current operating models of disability service providers.

NDS also conducts the Annual Market Survey which can provide other useful information related to the state of the sector across a number of different metrics that organisations may find useful in their benchmarking. The 2020 data will be released in early December.

Question 4:

Can a participant claim a percentage of their electricity bill because their bill is higher due to their assistive technology product?

Answer 4:

The NDIS will not fund everyday living costs including utilities.

There may however, be the situation where a person incurs additional costs, in this case related to electricity, due to their disability support requirements. This could be associated with the increased cost of running AT that has been prescribed and approved by the NDIA. 

In this situation, the person would be required to evidence the additional cost (over and above the day to day electricity costs that they would normally incur if they were not running the AT) and the NDIA would make a reasonable and necessary decision accordingly.

It would be in fairly limited circumstances that NDIA would contribute to these costs (pending the nature of the AT) and it is likely that robust evidence would be required.

Question 5:

What is the minimum level of experience/qualification to operate as a counsellor utilising this line item: 15_043_0128_1_3?

Answer 5:

The NDIS Commission's required documentation for the verification module pg. 13 lists information relevant to a counsellor.
 
Required qualifications/experience: Membership with the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) or as a counsellor with the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia as an accredited PACFA Registrant. Experience in the profession and evidence of involvement in clinical supervision and professional development as required by the appropriate professional body.
 
Refer to the website of the professional bodies listed above for eligible qualifications. For example, the relevant qualifications for ACA membership are listed on the website and in the application booklet, stating:
 
ACA Level 1 Membership: $220 per annum

The requirements to join the ACA at Level 1 are:

  • Has graduated from an ACA Accredited Course of study at minimum Diploma Level.

Once a member, your annual requirements will be:

  • Completes 25 Points of ACA approved Ongoing Professional Development per annum.
  • Completes 10 hours Professional Supervision per annum.

If you’re an NDS member and have a question of your own – please post it on the NDS Helpdesk.

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Savannah Jewell, Senior Policy and Project Officer, SDA, 03 8341 4300,