Northern Territory in Focus by Mick Fallon, August 2023
Over the last month, NDS has been keeping everyone informed about the NDIA’s rollout of their new computer system and provider portal, PACE. As many providers will know, the new system has been trialled in Tasmania since November. It is intended to be more user-friendly, making it easier for NDIA staff, partners and providers to do their job and free up time to better support participants.
But I know that there’s still a lot of confusion among members, not to mention concern over the time and expense of adapting to a new system.
Last week, the NDIA announced that the rollout has been put off until the 31 October, which will give some providers time to get their heads around it. To help with that, the NDIS has been holding face-to-face meetings around the country explaining the new system and there will be three sessions for NT providers.
Two sessions will be held at the Hilton in Darwin on Tuesday 22 August, one at 10:00am and another at 1.30 pm. On Thursday 24 August, the NDIS representatives will be at the Alice Springs Convention Centre for the meeting at 10:00am. The sessions are free and will allow providers to ask their questions ahead of the rollout.
Incidentally, an evaluation report of the PACE trial was recently released and the NDIS has published on their website What We Heard, a detailed summary of the feedback. NDS was part of that process and contributed to a list of improvements, which is well worth reading before the meeting.
The other crucial issue this month was dealing with the fallout from the announcement of the Annual Pricing review. We surveyed our national membership on pricing, PACE and insurance and were rocked by a few of the findings.
Eighty-three per cent of respondents said they are concerned about their ability to deliver disability services using the new price limits set down by the NDIA. There are legitimate fears about financial viability across the sector.
And 32 per cent of respondents had trouble in the last year getting insurance to run their disability services. Premium costs are high and the hoops the insurers want you to leap through are near to impossible.
These are just a few of the challenges that providers are facing both nationally and in the Territory as we get closer to the release of the NDIS Review’s report. The NDIS Review panel has released an interim report, What We Have Heard, which sets out five key challenges and ten priority areas.
And with the Disability Royal Commission dropping their report and recommendations later in the year, the sector, which has been dealing with constant change since the start of the NDIS, looks certain to face even more.
But right up to the day of release of these reports and, no doubt, for some time after, NDS will be pushing the provider case on your behalf. If you have concerns, experiences and insights you want to share, remember I am always available for a chat.