Big Job Ahead for NDIS – Bonyhady
Tuesday, 12th August 2014 at 2:42 pm
There’s still an an enormous amount of work to be done in terms of pricing and transition for service providers, the National Disability Insurance Agency Chair Bruce Bonyhady has told a National Conference on the Scheme.
Bonyhady made the comments in his speech, The NDIS Vision: Delivering the Plan, at the National Conference for the NDIS held in Geelong where he said the NDIS is on budget and on track to becoming sustainable.
According to Bonyhady, despite an impressive first 12 months, the NDIA still had big goals to achieve including setting and deregulating service prices and facilitating the growth of a large, competitive and diverse market for disability services.
“From our perspective, the efficient price must enable providers to deliver the high quality services that consumers need and want, while keeping the Scheme affordable and sustainable in the face of tight fiscal conditions across the country,” he said.
Bonyhady also said the NDIA also needed to enable the sharing of information so that participants, their families and carers can make informed choices; and so that service providers can respond to the new markets; act as a catalyst for new housing supply, which is affordable, accessible and as widely available as possible; balance the need to protect vulnerable people with the dignity of risk; and determine the optimal approach to transition to a full scheme.
“In approaching this complex task, there will be hurdles along the way,” Bonyhady said.
“Not everything will go smoothly first-time, because every nation building reform, like the NDIS, involves enormous challenges.
“But you can be confident, that the Agency has the capacity, determination and resilience to meet these challenges.
“As you would be aware, the Agency has worked closely with disability service providers to gain a better understanding of the factors that contribute to service prices and the most efficient price for the self-care and community participation services which constitute the bulk of the supports the NDIS offers.”
Bonyhady said he knew from discussion with Ken Baker, Chief Executive of National Disability Services (NDS), that this issue of pricing continued to be a source of concern among many providers and so further work and better communication was needed.
“But it is very pleasing that the methodology for setting prices has been agreed,” he said.
“That methodology – called the reasonable cost model – will be published shortly and available for comment.
“There is also agreement that the outcome from this work should be the concept of an efficient price and that this should be the price used to determine individual packages.
“At this stage, we don’t agree on what that efficient price should be, but we do agree that it should be determined by evidence and data which we still need to obtain. This data will also be important to test assumptions in the reasonable cost model which we have developed with National Disability Services.”
Bonyhady also said that in order for the NDIS to operate as intended, it would need to be supported by a deep and diverse market that was responsive to the diverse needs of NDIS participants.
“This includes the growth of the workforce by approximately 90,000 full time staff,” he said.
“We also need to find service delivery solutions for people living in regional and remote Australia where the workforce is patchy at best, and non-existent at worst.
“Experience gained during the trial phase has demonstrated that the development of the market is a critical challenge. There is a high risk that demand generated by the NDIS will outstrip supply.
“For some service types and locations a competitive market will develop quickly, in others much more slowly.
“The final look of the market will also be influenced by the extent to which States and Territories continue to deliver services or if they are withdrawing from direct service delivery how this is done to make room for non-government service delivery, and to deepen and strengthen the market through both existing players and new market entrants.
“It is essential for Scheme sustainability that demand does not outstrip supply causing unnecessary inflation or a drop in quality.”
Bonyhady said based on the evidence from the trials, some potential principles could guide us in building up to full scheme.
One of which, he said was early action on affordable and accessible housing – which would be the subject of a housing discussion paper that the Agency would issue later this week.
“While the Agency is not responsible for housing for participants, which remains a responsibility of States and governments’ affordable and public housing strategies more generally, the NDIS can be a catalyst for significant new housing investment for participants,” he said.
He also said with the first year of the trial complete – the data covering the full period would be released next week.