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News update
24/05/2024
News update

Breaking News: NDIS Provider and Worker Registration Taskforce provides update

Taskforce says there is more work to do before they take recommendations to government.
News update
23/05/2024
News update

NDS analyses the federal budget for opportunities and challenges for NDIS reform

The federal budget, tabled just over a week ago, promised improvements in the NDIS while moderating scheme growth — we break it down.

Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, April 2024

Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, State Manager Vic

22/04/2024

As we wait for state and federal responses to the DRC and NDIS Review recommendations, NDS is using the time to influence state government thinking on disability reform. Along with our State Committee Chair, Hayley Dean, I recently met with Minister Blandthorn to discuss opportunities, challenges and risks of implementing the reform recommendations in Victoria. We have also met with the Parliamentary Secretary for Disability, Iwan Walters, and senior bureaucrats in DFFH to give the provider viewpoint. Iwan Walters also met with our state committee members in April. 

With the department keen to hear from disability services, we are inviting representatives to some of our network meetings. It is vital that providers’ concerns are heard as the government frames its response to the Review. 

We are also working closely with the state government on a series of information sessions on the DSSRA legislation, which will affect SIL and SDA providers. The first overview session is on 1 May. 

I also want to highlight our in-person forum on Palliative Care and Disability on 16 May being hosted in partnership with the Palliative Care Consortium, Nightlife and PHN.  

Then, on 3 June, we are hosting a forum on the new research on Systems Analysis of Work-related Violence in Disability Residential Settings. And don’t forget that our Victorian State Conference will be held on 19 June. Invitations for both events will be sent to you soon.  

To push reform in the disability sector, two pieces of draft legislation, one Commonwealth, one state, have been introduced. Minister Shorten tabled the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Getting the NDIS Back on Track No 1) Bill 2024 on 27 March. It will allow the Minister, in consultation with the states, territories and disability stakeholders, to follow key recommendations of the NDIS Review.  

Among the amendments that will affect providers are changes to the definitions of NDIS support, the creation of new ways for participants to access the NDIS, and a new framework for setting NDIS budgets. It also contains measures to strengthen the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission.  

While not detailing NDIS rule changes directly, the Bill enables rule changes and other legislative instruments. Some of the changes, like those related to the NDIS Commission, will take effect when the Bill passes. Others, including those for access and budgets, will need to be developed and agreed to by states and territories first.  

The Bill has been referred to a Senate Committee for consideration, and NDS will make a submission on behalf of our members, gathering your thoughts through our Networks and Communities of Practice. 

In March, the Victorian Government introduced the Disability and Social Services Amendment Bill 2024 into Parliament. This Bill builds on the previous Disability and Social Services Amendment Act 2023 and the Social Services Regulations 2023  

The Bill will:  

  • merge the functions of the Disability Services Commissioner into the Social Services Regulator, so that critical functions, such as resolving complaints about non-NDIS disability service providers, can continue  
  • delay for up to two years the Worker and Carer Exclusion Scheme, which regulates out-of-home care workers and carers, while maintaining protections for children and young people in out-of-home care  
  • make minor, clarifying amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and Social Services Regulation Act 2021, so their provisions reflect recent changes to the Disability and Social Services Regulation Amendment Act 2023.  

The Bill also establishes an Associate Regulator, who, with some independence from the Regulator’s other functions, will oversee complaints about disability and other services.  While acknowledging the importance of good complaint and incident management systems in continuous quality improvement, we call for regulatory approaches that limit the compliance and auditing burden on providers. We are currently seeking member views on regulatory complaints models to inform our feedback to the Victorian government.   

We are also seeing developments in the industrial relations field. First, the Fair Work Commission will be inserting a delegates’ (that is, unions’) entry rights term into all modern awards by 30 June. NDS filed a submission with the commissionto argue that, since disability workers often work in participant’s homes, a consent process should be built into this clause for the SCHADS Award.  

Also, there has been uncertainty about how the SCHADS Award applies to work immediately before and after a sleepover. The interpretation favoured by unions — that a sleepover and any periods of work immediately before and after it are a single continuous shift — would overly burden providers. To address these concerns, the Australian Industry Group made an application to vary the SCHADS Award.  

Meanwhile, NDS in Victoria has been closely monitoring the AEU and HSU’s application for supported bargaining. The submission filed by NDS highlighted the NDIS pricing and structural barriers facing providers.  

PACE is still a major headache for providers. One technical problem is the incapacity of My Providers and NDIA and NCC to troubleshoot claims and payment enquiries. The NDIA has planned improvements for May and July. However, if the incoming NDIS legislation forces the Agency to switch their priorities, these could be postponed.  

As always, if you want to speak to me about any of these issues, I love to hear from you.   

Contact information
Sarah Fordyce, State Manager VIC, 03 8341 4303, submit enquiry/feedback