Disability Intermediaries Australia (DIA) has recently released their Australian Disability Intermediaries Sector Report for 2020. This report is designed to ensure that individuals with disability are able to access the services and supports they need while simplifying the process and reducing the red tape which can often prevent access.
There are currently more than 130,000 Australians who are being funded for Support Coordination. Furthermore, more than 120,000 Australians are utilising a Registered Plan Management Provider (RPMP).
As such, this sector report is significant—it gives Intermediary providers, such as Care Support Network, the information needed to continue to effectively support clients, while identifying inconsistencies and conflicts of interest within the NDIS system.
Key Findings of the DIA Report
The 2020 DIA Report was the first of its kind and is based on survey responses from 461 Intermediary service providers. The key findings of the report include:
- More than $108 million has been invested in the Intermediaries Sector with a further $117 million reported to be invested over the next three years
- Intermediary providers employ an approximate total of 24,560 FTE workers across the country, including 2,572 carers and 1,296 people with disability
- 84% of Support Coordination and 74% of Plan Management survey respondents agree or strongly agree that the NDIS policy environment is unclear
- 61% of respondents disagree or strongly disagree that the NDIS systems and processes work well, indicating that the administrative burden of the NDIS is frustrating to providers
- On average, approximately 30 hours of Support Coordination is being funded in Participants’ NDIS plans; the DIA says that this should be the minimum and not the average
- Recent announcements of the Digital Partnership Program, Annual Pricing Review consultation process and increased focus on reduction of operational backlogs has helped to improve Participants’ confidence in the NDIS
DIA conclude, however, that while there are still some challenges within the operation and policy environment of the NDIS, the Intermediary sector is responding accordingly and, in general, is able to meet Participant demand.
Furthermore, in 2020-2021, the DIA will:
- Develop standards to support continued innovation and improvement while maintaining a base level of quality
- Work with the NDIA to improve its internal processes and policies
- Work with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to improve Registration, audit and compliance requirements
Care Support Network’s Response
Care Support Network is incredibly proud to be a member of the DIA and strongly supports the work that it does for the Intermediary sector. We have also experienced first-hand many of the findings of the DIA Report.
For example, feedback from our clients and from the general disability sector suggests that there is a lot of uncertainty and lack of clarity around the NDIS. As such, those who utilise Plan Management and Support Coordination find that intermediary service providers are able to provide them with strong personal support and help them with the implementation and management of their NDIS plans. This is why the intermediary sector is vital to the success of the NDIS rollout.
Furthermore, research shows that many intermediary service providers are operating either at a loss or break-even. And yet, there is still a lot of ‘unbillable’ work that intermediary service providers are willing to do in order to assist their clients.
In the experience of Care Support Network, a minimum of 30 hours of Support Coordination is required to adequately fulfil the requirements of the Support Coordination role in order to be able to achieve the best outcomes for NDIS participants. Care Support Network supports the DIA in their lobbying to have a minimum of 30 hours set by the NDIA.
CSN also strongly supports the view of the DIA that there is a conflict of interest when direct service providers also provide intermediary services to NDIS participants.
Ultimately, CSN finds a lot of value in the DIA report and supports the DIA’s efforts to work with the NDIA to improve NDIS systems and processes.