NDIS News & Analysis
Quality & Safeguarding
Changes to the Code of Conduct
Just before Christmas, you could easily have missed a change that was made to the NDIS Code of Conduct. The addition to the Code of Conduct was:
The change to the Rules says in layman terms that an NDIA participant must not be charged more for the supply of goods than a non-NDIS participant without a reasonable justification.
Good or goods and services?
Firstly, the Rules say the supply of goods, NOT goods and services. While this change only applies to the supply of goods, e.g. purchase of a wheelchair, services are not completely off the hook.
In the guidance provided by the NDIS Commission they also outline that providers of services should not without ‘reasonable justification’ charge more to NDIS participants than other customers. If they do so it may be seem as failing to meet the principle of acting with honesty, integrity, and transparency, and thus be considered as a ‘sharp practice’.
We have been provided with little idea as to what might constitute reasonable justification. The Commission provide an example of a therapist selling their services to an NDIS participant for $300, yet to other customers for $80. In reality the gaps may be smaller, sometimes as little as $5 or $10, with the justification that it costs more as a business to provide services under the NDIS. Indeed, this may be entirely true as providers absorb the cost of developing and signing service agreements, invoicing plan managers, keeping up to date with NDIS changes etc. However, are these things enough to be considered as reasonable justification? I don’t know!
What happens if a provider does charge the participant more?
The Commission do not hold back in saying that if a price difference cannot be justified it may be a breach of the Code of Conduct and considered a ‘sharp practice’ and consequently may take compliance action such as:
Referral to the fraud fusion taskforce – if the conduct appears to be fraudulent
Unscheduled site visits
Issuing compliance notices
Requiring Providers to enter into court enforceable undertakings
Issuing infringement notices
Varying, suspending or revoking registration
Issuing banning orders
Commencing court proceedings, seeking civil penalties and injunctions
One saving grace is that the Commission have provided contact details for providers and participants if they have any questions or cannot agree on a price difference.