From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that substantial support would be required to enable disability service providers to continue operating and supporting participants through circumstances for which there was no precedent.
Minister Stuart Robertâs Office and the NDIA have met regularly with NDS and other representative bodies to discuss the sectorâs challenges â and have been open to hearing concerns and ideas that would maintain organisational health and subsequently, high quality, safe supports for participants.The Governmentâs broad economic and sector specific funding was recognised by many NDS members in our recent COVID-19 impact survey as significant in their ability to adapt and continue servicing their clientele. Others, as reflected in their survey responses and direct communication with NDS, felt there were gaps that current measures donât address. We discussed several of these with the Ministerâs Office and the Agency before submitting a letter to the Minister outlining additional temporary measures for consideration.Our requests included a per day payment for SIL providers dealing with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19; extension of the 10% price uplift across additional NDIS-funded services; open eligibility for JobKeeper; better access to PPE and; access to free flu vaccinations. In addition, we noted NDSâs support through the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for a COVID-19 âsick leaveâ Allowance should a worker be required to go into isolation â strictly on the basis the allowance be government-funded. Last week NDS received the Ministerâs response, which we have shared here at the Ministerâs request. In explaining why the additional items have been declined, the Minister noted the economic and sector specific measures already implemented, and referenced the results of NDSâs COVID-19 survey. The Ministerâs response also makes reference to the FWC application for a COVID-19 Allowance for workers in the sector who are or may have been impacted by the virus. Members are advised that NDS has since advised the Commission of our decision to withdraw our support for the application.Through the efforts of members, who have been resourceful, innovative and endlessly positive, service interruptions have been minimised. We know this has not been easy â making the optimism outwardly displayed ever so more impressive. Provider action, aided by Government support and community-wide isolation, has thankfully seen few people with disability infected by the virus â but it cannot be taken for granted that this will remain the case. NDS, with input from members, will continue to work collaboratively with Government to support people with disability and the service providers they rely upon.In the meantime, remember to access our Coronavirus hub for advice and resources, including access to discounted PPE, webinars and exclusive partner offers.Thereâs a long road ahead in dealing with the pandemic and its unpredictability. Please donât hesitate to contact David Moody or your State or Territory Manager regarding support NDS can provide your organisation.