New NDIS employment support guidance and removal of COVID-19 measures

    Last week the NDIA released the new Price Guide, effective from 1 July 2020. The new guide allows for additional supports for participants with an employment goal and the introduction of new line items with price limits.  There were also additional changes this week to remove some of the temporary COVID-19 measures, which removes the temporary 10 per cent price loading on certain core and capacity building supports and the cancellation policies that were introduced in response to COVID-19.

    The new Price Guide provides a clearer definition of supports available for participants who need specialised supported employment, including the following: 

    • On the job assessments related to the impact of a person’s disability on their ability to work
    • Job customisation
    • On-the-job training and intermittent support with daily work tasks
    • Direct supervision and/or group-based support to enable meaningful participation at work
    • Physical assistance and personal care delivered in the workplace
    • Supports to manage disability-related behaviour or complex needs at work
    • Non-face-to-face activities that directly relate to supporting a participant’s employment.

    Participants can receive this support individually or in a group. The changes also mean that providers can charge not only for direct services but also for:

    • Non-face-to-face support provision: for example, writing a report or liaising with your employer. Your provider should explain this to you prior to charging.
    • Provider travel: when the provider transports you to and from employment.
    • Short notice cancellations: participants will be charged 100 per cent of the support price if they don’t show up for an scheduled support, or cancel a service less than two business days if the support is less than 8 hours duration and less than $1000, or cancel less than five business days notice for any other support. The short notice cancellation needs to be agreed on by the participant in advance.
    • Provider travel non-labour-cost: these are vehicle running expenses, but your provider should explain and include relevant costs in the service agreement.

    Five new line items with price limits have been created for employment support and the price will vary according to the day, time, frequency and intensity of service delivered by providers.

    The introduction of an hourly rate to replace the previous block funding is one of the main changes in employment supports. This is likely to allow more flexibility and control for participants – however, the most wanted change about flexibility of core and capacity building support is not included in the new Price Guide yet despite the announcement by the Minister Robert in November last year

    Adjustments in the way employment supports are delivered and funded are needed if we want to see improved outcomes for people with disability, with only 53% currently employed compared to 83% of those without disability – and for the NDIA to meet its NDIS Employment Strategy (which aims to increase 30 per cent of participants of a working age in meaningful employment by 30 June 2023).

    We want to see the changes in employment supports benefit young people with disability to find and maintain work as well, as to encourage employers to employ them. A promising new alliance between the NDIS and the National Retail Association to promote inclusivity in the workplace has been announced recently, and we will watch this work and the evaluation of its impact with interest.

    The new Price Guide has also included changes in Supported Independent Living (SIL), Recovery Coaches and Independent Living Options. The prices will be updated later this month once the Fair Work Commission releases the results of the Annual Wage Review.