Better outcomes for providers & participants
Advocating for a better NDIS
Occupational therapists are a critical part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), providing a wide range of supports and services to help participants maintain and improve function, build their capacity to participate in community life, education and employment, and to access vital assistive technology and other supports.
OTA has welcomed many of the changes resulting from the rollout of the NDIS across Australia, and supports a strong, sustainable and effective NDIS. However, the Scheme’s introduction was accompanied by a range of issues that continue to negatively affect the experiences of participants and providers.
OTA has heard from OTs that your clients face long and frustrating delays in the approval of plans and, as a knock-on effect, long and dangerous delays in the delivery of supports, including vital assistive technology. OTs report that assessments and reports provided to NDIA staff may be rejected without adequate justification, or require extensive clinical justifications, with negative impact on clients.
OTs have reported that funded hours may not represent actual time spent with complex or vulnerable clients who require extensive advocacy and engagement with NDIA and coordination services to achieve basic outcomes for clients. Some providers are finding these demands unsustainable and as a result are walking away from the scheme, leaving clients with reduced choice of providers.
OTA is working to raise awareness about the vital NDIS services that OTs provide for people with disabilities, and advocate for vital system changes to ensure that participants can get the supports they need and OTs can provide efficient, effective and value-for-money services.
Update on NDIS Pricing
OTA continues to advocate for pricing arrangements to ensure that occupational therapists can provide quality and sustainable services to NDIS participants. In April 2023 OTA made a submission to the NDIA Pricing Review which advocated for a minimum 18% increase in the ‘Therapy Supports’ maximum price, to address the rising costs of business, and address the effective price reduction that has resulted over the past 4 years from rising inflation and freeze on NDIS pricing. Read OTA’s submission here.
In June 2023 the NDIA announced there will be no change to the ‘Therapy Supports’ NDIS item price limit for 2023, which remains at $193.99. OTA is disappointed with the outcome and will continue to pursue improvements in pricing arrangements in the NDIS Independent Review.
NDIS Independent Review
OTA is participating in the current review into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) on behalf of members to ensure that occupational therapists are supported to provide vital services under the scheme.
The review was launched in late 2022, and is led by Co-Chairs Professor Bruce Bonyhady AM and Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM. The Review Panel is tasked with providing a report to Government by October 2023, and has been given a wide-ranging terms of reference which will inquire into the NDIS in two parts:
- Part 1 of the NDIS Review, which will be led by Dr Bruce Bonyhady AM, will examine the design, operation and sustainability of the scheme.
- Part 2 of the NDIS Review, which will be led by Ms Lisa Paul AO, will analyse ways to build a more responsive, supportive, and sustainable market and workforce
More information is available on the NDIS Review website.
OTA conducted a member survey in December 2022 to identify key issues and concerns held by occupational therapists, which saw 320 members provide their valuable insights and ideas. These responses have assisted OTA to advocate strongly on the issues that matter to members throughout the review.
OTA's NDIS Review Submissions
OTA has made several submissions to the review to date:
- Key issues submission: a comprehensive submission advocating for 24 key improvements (January 2023).
- NDIA Quality and Safeguarding Framework (May 2023)
- NDIS Safeguarding Proposals (May 2023)
- OTA response to NDIS Pricing and Payments Issues Paper (July 2023)
- OTA response to the NDIS Review Interim Report (August 2023)
OTA has also met with the Review Secretariat on several occasions and has participated in several policy forums. OTA will continue to represent members interests as the review progresses.
Response to recent media on NDIS OT fees
On 7 October 2022, OTA wrote to Bill Shorten, Minister for the NDIS, in response to media reports that suggested that allied health service providers engage in ‘price gouging’ for NDIS participants. Read more about our response.
Rejection of Independent Assessments
After concerted lobbying efforts in 2021, by OTA and other allied health industry peak bodies through our membership of the Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA), the Federal Government abandoned a proposal to introduce Independent Assessments for new entrants to the NDIS. The government had proposed to introduce Independent Assessment tools that would remove the need for clinically appropriate functional assessments by appropriately qualified professionals like occupational therapists
OTA works on behalf of members to produce submissions and policy positions on important issues relating to the NDIS. OTA also provides input on behalf of occupational therapists to Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA), the peak body representing the Allied Health sector in Australia, on NDIS matters.
OTA has engaged in the recent reviews of the NDIS and provided submissions on behalf of members:
- Submission to the Independent Review of the NDIS in response to the Issues Paper on the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework (May 2023)
- Submission to the Australian National Audit Office on NDIA and daily life supports (October 2022)
- Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme: Capability and Culture of the NDIA (October 2022)
- Australian Parliament Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme: Inquiry into general issues around the implementation and performance of the NDIS (April 2022)
- Inquiry into Current Scheme Implementation and Forecasting for the NDIS (February 2022)
- NDIS Annual Price Review 2020-21 (February 2021)
- Consultation Paper: Access and Eligibility Policy with independent assessments (February 2021)