Sign in with your email address username.


Price rise for disability services


Disability service providers have won an increase in the price the National Disability Insurance Scheme is willing to pay for the support they provide, as operations for the system ramp up.

Service providers have negotiated increases of up to 13.5 per cent in the price the National Disability Insurance Agency, which runs the NDIS, was prepared to pay for services including assistance in self-care and community support.

The agreement goes some way to meeting long-standing concerns among service providers that in many instances the prices the NDIA was willing to pay were inadequate.

“From the first day they started rolling out the NDIS, the disability community knew that the prices the agency was paying for some services didn’t reflect the real cost of high-quality support,” said Dr Ken Baker, Chief Executive of National Disability Services, which represents 950 disability service providers. “If this had continued, service providers would have gone broke, and people with disability and their families would have been left with no, or poor quality, support in the NDIS trial sites.”

From 1 July the number of trial sites for the Scheme expanded to include the ACT, the Barkly region of the Northern Territory, the Perth Hills area of Western Australia and the Lake Macquarie area of NSW.

There have been concerns that the Federal Government wants to slow implementation of the NDIS in order to save money, but Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield has insisted the Commonwealth remains committed to its timely roll-out.

The scale of demand for disability care has been underlined by an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report showing that 312,539 people used disability support services in 2012-13.

The greatest demand was for community support (45 per cent of services), followed by employment services (41 per cent), community access (18 per cent), accommodation support (14 per cent) and respite care (12 per cent).

The number of people using disability services has grown significantly, up 12 per cent between 2008-09 and 2012-13, though the rate of growth has slowed in recent years, dropping 2 per cent between 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Most service users required assistance in at least one of through broad aspects of life – independent living (64 per cent), work, education and community living (61 per cent), and daily life (55 per cent).

The growth in demand has driven an increase in expenditure – spending on disability support services rose almost a quarter between 2008-09 and 2012-13 to $7.2 billion.

But although the NDIA has upped its tariffs, Dr Baker said the increases did not go far enough.

“Unfortunately, the agency is still not funding the full cost of quality service provision,” he said, noting that in the next 12 months prices will grow at less than the rate of inflation.

Dr Baker has urged that prices be deregulated immediately rather than in 2014-15, as is currently planned.

Adrian Rollins