September 2019 – NDIS Updates, Resources and Conferences

Figure 1 from Carol Berry, Director Provider and Market Engagement NSW/ACT NDIS at HLB Mann Judd NDIS - Update Luncheon on 28 August 2019

Figure 1 from Carol Berry, Director Provider and Market Engagement NSW/ACT NDIS at HLB Mann Judd NDIS - Update Luncheon on 28 August 2019

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability

The law firm Piper Alderman attended the first public sitting day of the Royal Commission on 16th September and provided an excellent summary.

Senior Counsel Assisting the Commission Rebecca Treston QC then made opening submissions, introducing her fellow counsel assisting, further explaining the terms of reference, highlighting that up to 1 in 5 Australians has some level of disability, and the extent of abuse and violence in Australia and the impact on those with disability. She spoke about the special position of First Nations people and women with disability. She then described the ways in which the Commission will gather information and how it will exercise its compulsory powers. It is not proposed that compulsory powers will be used against any individuals with disability. Rather the Commission intends to use its powers to obtain documents from governmental bodies, agencies and other commercial organisations and support providers.

She also confirmed that last week the Commission wrote to a large number of the largest NDIS providers putting them on notice that the Commission will shortly issue them with formal notices to produce documents or to give information about:

  • the services they provide;

  • complaints or investigations and reporting of incidents of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disabilities in connection with those services; and

  • policies and procedures to identify and manage any such incidents.

Wellways - How The Way Home works

The Way Home assists NDIS participants with a psychosocial disability to secure safe and sustainable housing in the private rental market or community housing. The Individual Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) funded program provides two complementary streams of support to ultimately improve access to housing for people with a psychosocial disability who are homeless or at risk of homelessness:

Support for the individual
A Wellways Housing Support coordinator works alongside both the participant and the housing provider to establish reciprocal and sustainable relationships and empower and educate individuals to successfully manage their tenancy with the support of their care team.

Download the participant info pack (ZIP - 8.3MB)

Support for NDIS Providers
The Way Home aims to improve the housing literacy of Local Area Coordinators, NDIA Planners, and NDIS Support Coordinators. This will be achieved by providing resources that assist in identifying tenancies at risk, and show how to initiate the appropriate supports. The program utilises evidence based early intervention strategies.

Download the service provider info pack (ZIP - 9.7MB)

The latest AIHW Report finds satisfaction with disability services

Almost half a million Australians are receiving specialist disability services and the vast majority are happy with the support they receive, according to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The  People with Disability in Australia report released on 3rd September says almost 90 per cent of people with disability who need formal assistance are getting support. At June 30 last year, 172,000 were receiving services under the NDIS and 280,000 received support under the National Disability Agreement between 2017-18. Most who are using services under the NDA are expected to transition to the NDIS, which is expected to support around 475,000 by 2020.

Services received included assistive technology, case management, life skills development, specialist accommodation, respite care and support to live in the community and participate in community activities. The report says an estimated 39 per cent of people with disability living in the community need assistance from formal providers; 64 per cent of which are private commercial operations and the rest government providers.

The AIHW says according to a 2015 survey, which pre-dates the main NDIS rollout, eighty five per cent of service recipients said they were happy with service quality and 74 were satisfied with the range of services available.

However the report found people with a disability are far more likely than other Australians to suffer violence, discrimination, stress and poor health, as well as having lower incomes and experiencing rental stress and unemployment. Nearly half of people (47 per cent) with a disability aged 15 or over have experienced violence, compared to 36 per cent of Australians without a disability. Around one in five (21 per cent) have experienced violence by an intimate partner, compared to 13 per cent of those without a disability. Those with a disability are also more likely to experience child abuse, sexual violence, sexual harassment and emotional abuse.

The report pulls together data from many places including the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In the 2017-18 financial year, the AHRC received more complaints about disability discrimination than other forms of discrimination – 42 per cent of all calls. The report found one in four (23 per cent) of those aged 15 with a disability living in households have experienced some form of discrimination, compared to 17 per cent without a disability.

NDIS Updates

The NDIS quarterly report for the Q4 2019 was released to COAG on 21st August. The 67 page report provides fascinating insights into plan management and plan utilisation across different cohorts and regions of Australia.

Currently, 29% of people are Self-Managing, which is a 10% increase from 2 years ago. Meanwhile the rate of Plan Management has shot up by 21%, and is now sitting at 34%. People over 25 are more likely to opt to use a Plan Manager (36%), compared to the 0-14 aged band (20%). Rates of partial Self Management are pretty consistent at 11% across all age groups. Rates of Self and Plan Management also differ amongst disability cohorts.  People with a hearing impairment (47%), spinal cord injury (41%) and autism (38%) are the most likely to Self Manage. Whereas rates of Self Management are the lowest for people with psychosocial disability (5%), ABIs (12%) and intellectual disability (15%). People with psychosocial disability are among the most likely to use a Plan Manager (42%), as are people with MS (42%) and people who have had a stroke (41%).

Plan utilisation across the nation averages out to 68%, however the longer people spend in the Scheme, the more of their Plan that they use. On average, Participants who are on their first Plan only spend 47% of their funding. But people on their fifth Plan generally use 75% of their funds. Regions that have the lowest utilisation rates: Northern Territory, Far West NSW, Inner East Melbourne, Inner Gippsland and Ovens-Murray in Victoria, Eyre and Western, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island, Murray and Mallee, Far North and the Limestone Coast in South Australia 

In November 2018 the Department of Social Services and the National Disability Insurance Agency formed a participant employment taskforce to recommend measures to improve employment outcomes for NDIS participants. The Taskforce has met with over 250 stakeholders who are active in the delivery of NDIS employment supports or invested in improving participant employment outcomes. The insights from these stakeholder consultations are informing the development of an NDIS Participant Employment strategy. This strategy will guide the NDIA over the next 3-5 years to become a leader and advocate of disability employment, improving employment outcomes for participants and people with disability more broadly.  

The NDIS – Health Interface fact sheet was released in June by DSS - From 1 October 2019, NDIS participants who need disability-related health supports as a direct result of their disability, and as part of their daily life, can access these supports through their NDIS plan. The NDIA and state and territory health departments will work together to develop aligned communications and guidance to support consistent implementation by both the NDIS and health systems. In the meantime and to ensure NDIS participants are able to access the disability-related health supports that they need, state and territory health services will continue to provide disability-related health supports they are currently providing to NDIS participants where such supports are not already included in a participant’s NDIS plan. The NDIS will continue to fund these supports where they are already included in a participant’s NDIS plan.

The NDIS is now releasing more data on providers and participants – For example, as of March 31, there were 20,208 registered providers with only 11,418 being active. See

There are also some excellent reports about employment outcomes for participants, their families and carers as well.

Using data from July 2018, 23% of NDIS participants were “employed” (i.e. 1 day a week or more) – of these only 33% were in open employment with award wages (of the 25+ group) with the rest working in ADE’s. 77% of NDIS participants receive the DSP (page 15) but only 7% of DSP recipients have an approved NDIS plan (page 17).

NSW NDIS funding set at $3.3bn for the year: The 2019/2020 NSW budget has been released and confirms NDIS funding will be $3.3bn for the year. Of that amount, a significant $1 billion has been set aside for housing and homelessness, providing much needed support to vulnerable individuals and families. Other focus areas include suicide prevention and the Mental Health Infrastructure Program, as well as the continued rollout of specialist intellectual disability health hubs announced in last year’s budget.

Upcoming Conferences

Disability Innovation Institute, UNSW “Innovation in Disability” Seminar 1 October, Sydney -

Meet the DIIU’s new Director, Professor Jackie Leach Scully (former Director at University of Newcastle PEALS, UK), and network with other leaders in disability research and advocacy from the university, disabled people's organisations and the wider community. The event will include an introduction to the work of the DIIU and a panel discussion on the topic “What does innovation in disability look like?” “The DIIU looks forward to meeting you at this significant event, where you can find out about the DIIU, join its community, and help transform the lives of people with disability”.

Panel members are: Dr Ben Gauntlett – Australian Human Rights Commission, Disability Discrimination Commissioner; Dr Graeme Innes AM – Chair Disability Innovation Institute Advisory Council - lawyer, author, and company director; Professor Karen Fisher - Professor, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. Her research interests are the organisation of disability and mental health services in Australia and China. Dr Kate Bishop – Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Built Environment,


Strengthening the NDIS Workforce 29-31 October, Sydney

The NDIS sector will need to grow rapidly to meet the greater demand for NDIS services. Some estimates even indicate that the disability workforce will need to double by 2020. In fact, 90,000 more employees will need to enter the sector in the next five years to meet predicted demand, especially in regional areas. With the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission in the final phase of rolling out across Australia and the ongoing Royal Commission, NDIS providers need to be particularly conscious of finding the right people to provide quality client services. They also need to ensure staff engagement and attraction to the sector is maintained during this time of change. The Strengthening the NDIS Workforce conference will unpack the key issues currently impacting on the NDIS workforce and strategies that organisations are utilising to recruit staff who share the right values and attitudes. It will also discuss how to overcome challenges with retention and unpack how reform including the Royal Commission will impact upon staff morale and engagement.

ASID The Journey to a Good Life – Taking Control 6-8 November, Adelaide

The 53rd Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability (ASID) Conference is the premier event for the Disability sector in Australia and the Asia Pacific region. ASID is an organisation that champions research and evidence-based best practice in the field of intellectual disability. It is well respected amongst people with intellectual disabilities and their families, providers of services to people with intellectual disabilities and all levels of government departments concerned with people with disabilities. The conference showcases current research and practice across Australia and New Zealand. It typically attracts approx. 400 enthusiastic people from a wide range of backgrounds and organisations throughout Australasia and beyond. The conference enables those involved with intellectual disability to learn about each other’s challenges, resources and achievements.

NDS CEO’s Meeting “Foresight for Leaders” 20-21 November, Sydney (for NDS members only)

The program is future-focused, offering analysis and critique of the current operating environment. Speaker highlights include: Bernie Brooks AM, ex-CEO Myer, ‘Transformational Leadership’, Dr Ben Gauntlett, Disability Discrimination Commissioner, ‘Kenneth Jenkins Oration’, Sueanne Carr, Customer Frame,'Customer Centric', Prof Sohail Inayatullah, Futurist, Hon Stuart Robert MP, NDIS Minister, Hon Bill Shorten MP, Shadow NDIS Minister, Vicki Rundle, NDIA Acting CEO, Graeme Head, NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commissioner, Stan Grant, Current affair host & author (Dinner Speaker).

NDS Acting CEO David Moody will launch NDS’s annual flagship report, the State of the Disability Sector Report, on the first day of the conference. This report provides the findings from the Annual Market Survey of the sector and offers analysis and critique of service provision in the past year.

CDS Festival of Inclusion 20-21 November, Sydney

The Festival aims to: Provide people with disabilities with skills and knowledge that will support them to increase their choice of mainstream activities; Showcase inclusive activities and inclusive strategies for people with disabilities, family members, carers, supporters, service providers (both disability and mainstream), and the general public; Share knowledge and experience between people with and without disabilities, families, service providers, the corporate, commercial, industry, leisure, recreational and sports worlds to generate a fresh vision of a more inclusive society for all people.

ACOSS National Conference 26-28 November, Canberra

The 2019 conference theme is: Harnessing Community for Effective Actionand is about exploring the ways in which the power of community can be harnessed to drive systemic change at the local and national level. Through the conference theme, they will consider a number of cross cutting questions, such as: How do we harness the power of local community action to influence national policy debates? How do we bridge the divide between urban and rural communities to deliver better policy outcomes for all? How can we talk about poverty to win hearts and minds to solve it?


Teresa Dao