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Changes Announced In The Latest Quarterly Report

The latest Quarterly Report has been released, and it includes information about some pretty big changes to the assistive technology processes and Planning. Sara gives you the lowdown.

By Sara Gingold

Updated 15 Apr 202425 Nov 2019

NB: The data in this article is from the quarter of July- September 2019.

In the excitement of the Minister’s announcement a couple of weeks ago, you might have missed the humble release of the latest quarterly report. Well the truth is there is nothing humble about quarterly reports. They are like watching the NDIS show through rose tinted glasses. But, regardless, they always teach us something new about the state of the Scheme. So without further ado, this quarters top takeaways are:  

 

THINGS ARE SPEEDING UP

The waiting times for access and Planning decisions have started to get a bit embarrassing for the NDIA. So they have put the petal to the metal, with everything at the Agency HQ now happening in fast forward mode. The results are that this quarter:

  • Waiting times for children under six seeking access to the Scheme have halved.
  • The number of children waiting 50 days or more for their first Plan has decreased from 3,314 to 1,686.
  • As of September 2019, access decisions have been processed in an average of 12 days. This compares favourably to June this year, when they were taking an average of 30 days. Apparently, the delays were caused by a fault in the ICT system. Which is a bit convenient, since the computer can’t even defend itself! But these faults have now been remedied, and extra staff have been diverted to access decisions.
  • First Plans are also taking less time to be approved after an access decision has been made. The wait was 88 days in September, compared to 133 in June. Still arguably too long but at least it is moving in the right direction.

So, to give credit where credit is due:

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY

Speaking of things that take way too long, the NDIA has listed improving the assistive technology (AT) processes as a priority for the upcoming quarter. The reports says that as of October 2019, the threshold for low cost AT that can be purchased without a quote went up to $5,000 (but the NDIA sadly later retracted this). Other planned changes in the works are:

  • Streamlining the AT quote approval processes (they’re keeping it vague so we don’t get our expectations too high!).
  • Reaching out to Participants who have an AT budget approved in their Plan but have not yet used it.
  • Exploring ways to implement an AT lease or long term loan system (we profiled MND NSW’s equipment loan program earlier this year. It’s good stuff!).
  • Only requiring one quote for AT that costs less than $15K, and no more than two quotes for AT valued over $15K.

 

JOINT PLANNING

The other big priority of the upcoming quarter is the roll out of joint planning. In joint planning meetings, the Participant, LAC Planner and NDIA Planner all come together to discuss the Plan. The NDIA Planner has the authority to approve the Plan right there and then in the meeting.  Since May 2019, the NDIA has been trailing joint planning with Mission Australia in Southern Adelaide. This quarter, 192 joint planning meetings were held, and Plans were approved in 92% of those meetings. Feedback also indicates that Participants who have joint planning meetings begin utilising their funds more quickly following approval. The initiative aims to increase Participant’s understanding of what has been approved in their Plan and why, as well as improve the ability of LACs and NDIA Planners to play nice with each other. And that’s got to be good thing.

AUTOMATIC PLAN EXTENSIONS

It’s a competitive landscape to determine the most frustrating issue in the NDIS, but right up there is when one Plan expires before another one has been approved. It’s a serious problem, but also a completely unnecessary one. This quarter, the Agency began automatically extending all Plans due to run out within the next seven days by 28 days. This is a good solution. But it does lead to one very obvious question: what happens when the 28 days are up? Do you get another 28 days? In which case, why not just extend the Plan indefinitely until the next one is approved? #justsayin’

 

THE MARKET

This quarter’s report provides some interesting new data about the state of the market and what it means for choice and control. Through a bloody complex formula, they have found a way to rank which regions are offering people the most choice of provider. The results show that people have the most choice in ACT, Barwon (Vic), South West (Tas) and Barkly (NT). All of these regions were trial sites, so it makes sense that their markets are more mature. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Katherine (NT) and East Arnhem Land (NT) showed the least market diversity.  

There is also interesting, new information on market concentration. Market concentration refers to the percentage of payments that are going to the top 10 providers in that region. The higher that percentage is, the more concentrated the market is considered. Meaning Participants have less choice about the providers that they use. Nationally, 63% of payments are going to the largest 10 providers. But as you can see in the graph below, there are some regions where the market is significantly more concentrated. In Barkly (NT) more than 95% of payments are going to 10 providers. Which doesn’t exactly bode well for choice and control.

 

You can find the full report, along with state specific performance reports here. Add it to your holiday reading list, and use it as a conversation starter over your Christmas lunch. I guarantee it will go down a treat!

Authors

Sara Gingold

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