Tasmania in Focus by Lizzie Castles, August 2023
It was wonderful to see so many of you at the NDS Disability Hot Topics Breakfast in Hobart on 8 August.
The Hon. Jo Palmer MLC spoke about the current state of disability services in Tasmania, and the consultation for the Disability Inclusion Bill 2023. In one of her first events as Minister for Disability and Minister for Community Service, Minister Palmer acknowledged that the needs of people with disability are not restricted to the portfolios she holds. They cut across numerous portfolios, she said, including Health and Housing.
NDS CEO Laurie Leigh went through the hot topics concerning disability providers in Tasmania, namely workforce, disability housing, and the impact of the PACE trial on both providers and participants. Laurie also discussed what NDS is doing in response to the unsatisfactory price review the Agency recently delivered.
The Tasmanian Disability Inclusion Bill consultation was launched on 15 August, and we encourage Tasmanian members to read the Bill and make a submission. In partnership with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, NDS will be holding an online consultation session on Wednesday 6 September at 1:00pm. All providers are welcome.
As Tasmanians endure the expansion of the PACE trial, the rest of the nation was relieved to hear that the national PACE roll out has been delayed by a month. It’s now due to go live on 30 October.
NDS sincerely thanks all providers who have advocated directly for changes to PACE, have assisted in preparing other providers for PACE and those who have passed their comments on to me. You ensure that we can advocate for change on the PACE issues that matter most to you.
The NDIA has confirmed it will continue to run PACE advisory and implementation groups. However, these are likely to be further reduced in Tasmania during the national roll out. Please let me know if you have PACE concerns, because we will not stop advocating for PACE improvements.
NDS recently released findings from our latest pulse survey that looked at prices, insurance and PACE. The results reinforce the impression we have received from talking to providers that they are seriously concerned about their financial viability.
Eighty-three per cent of respondents said they are concerned about their ability to deliver disability services using the NDIA’s new price limits, many citing as factors discrepancies in the SCHADS Award and the lack of an increase in remuneration for support coordinators and plan managers.
Thirty-two per cent of respondents reported difficulties in securing insurance to run their disability services. Insurance premiums – specifically physical and sexual abuse insurance, cyber security insurance and other forms of general insurance are becoming prohibitively expensive, with the requirements set by insurers increasingly hard to meet. We continue to speak to both state and federal governments on this issue.
The NDIS Review recently released a report, What We Have Heard — Moving from defining problems to designing solutions to build a better NDIS, that identifies five key challenges and ten priority areas for improvement. The priority areas are:
- applying and getting a plan
- a complete and joined-up ecosystem of support
- defining ‘reasonable and necessary’
- early childhood supports
- the support and service marketplace
- measuring outcomes and performance
- achieving long-term outcomes
- help accessing supports
- supported living and housing
- participant safeguards.
We will keep on contributing to the NDIS Review by providing solutions in these priority areas. Recently we made submissions on Quality and Safety and Participant Safeguarding, and we have been doing significant work on flexible and differentiated pricing and payment methods.
Again, if you have comments or feedback on any of these issues, please contact me.