ACT NDIS Taskforce  - Mid Year Review

The NDIS began in the ACT on 1 July 2014. The ACT will be the first jurisdiction in Australia to accept all eligible residents into the scheme by July 2016.

Since the ACT signed a Heads of Agreement with the Commonwealth Government in April 2013, the ACT NDIS Taskforce has been responsible for the strategic policy and planning for the design and implementation of the NDIS in Canberra.

Taskforce membership includes representatives from Education, ACT Health, Mental Health, Therapy ACT, Housing ACT and Disability ACT. The membership changes as projects required for readiness change.

The implementation of the NDIS in the ACT is overseen by a Project Board of Directors-General from Health, Education and Training and Community Services Directorates (Chair), the Head of Service and the NDIA reporting directly to the Minister for Disability, Children and Young People.

An Expert Panel was appointed in September 2012 and provides strategic advice to the Taskforce on issues affecting people with disabilities, their families, carers and support providers in relation to the implementation of the NDIS.

Representatives from the Taskforce continue to be involved in the ongoing development of the NDIS national policies and the trial evaluation. The Taskforce will continue to work to ensure the smooth implementation of the NDIS in the ACT for the foreseeable future.

Getting ready for the NDIS

The Commonwealth and ACT Governments are investing $21.8 million to prepare the ACT disability sector and people with disabilities for the NDIS. This includes:

  • $9.3 million the ACT and Commonwealth Governments funded in enhanced services in the ACT.
  • $12.5 million over three years from the Commonwealth Government for ACT sector development to build the capacity of people and organisations to be ready for the NDIS; and for market development initiatives to assist organisations make the transition from block funding to individualised funding and increase market options in the ACT.

Enhanced Service Offer

Funding of $9.3m was negotiated with the Commonwealth to enable the ACT to respond to prioritised need for respite services and preparation for the 2014 launch of the NDIS. Of this funding, $7.7 million went towards Enhanced Service Offer (ESO) grants.

This grant funding was allocated directly to people with a disability, including psychosocial disability through eligibility criteria consistent with the NDIS. Applicants for the ESO needed to be under 65 years, an ACT resident and an Australian citizen or permanent resident and meet the disability criteria.

The ESO was designed to:

  • Raise awareness about the NDIS.
  • Provide an opportunity for people with disability and their families to think about planning their whole of life goals and to make choices about how they would prefer to have their disability related support needs met.
  • Provide people with an opportunity to exercise control over how those supports were provided and/or how their resources are managed.
  • Assist service providers prior to the move from block funding to test the capacity of their business systems and workforce to respond to individualised service requests and payment.
  • In the context of service users having discretion over their support funding, to test whether their service offer is actually what consumers are looking to buy.

There were three grant types offered:

  • Grants of up to $10,000 for aids, equipment and minor modifications to a person’s home or vehicle.
  • Grants of up to $5,000 for things that potentially may increase a person’s quality of life (Quality of Life Grants).
  • Grants of $12,000 for flexible supports and services that may enable a person to take part in a social, recreational, educational or vocational activity, learn new skills, increase independence; and/or build social and personal networks.

There were two opportunities to apply for a grant. Round one was open from 1 July to 9 August 2013. Round two was open from 30 September to 8 November 2013.

Across the two grant rounds 1,311 (46%) of 2,820 applicants were offered a grant.

Sector Development

The ACT received funding of $12.5 million over three years from the Commonwealth Government for sector development.

ACT sector development activities have been targeted to build the capacity of people and organisations to be ready for the NDIS; and for market development initiatives to assist organisations make the transition from block funding to individualised funding and increase market options in the ACT.

Community Conversations, Capacity Building Workshops, Digital Stories and Family Leadership sponsorships assisted families and people with a disability prepare for the introduction of the NDIS.

The mental health sector was supported through Connecting Communities to develop information and referral services and supported decision making.

Service providers were able to complete the NDIS Organisational Readiness Toolkit to assess their level of readiness for the NDIS. The toolkit highlighted for many organisations areas that they needed to strengthen to be market ready for the NDIS.

To further assist organisations, Governance and Financial Management Packages of $20,000 and Business Investment Packages of $50,000 are being provided to organisations to assist with their preparations for the NDIS.

Transitioning to the NDIS

The ACT and Commonwealth Governments recently bilaterally agreed how existing clients, services and funding will transition to the NDIS during the trial.

The NDIS began in the ACT on 1 July this year. Unfortunately not everyone will be able to become a participant on day one.

To ensure the scheme is sustainable and equitable, a transition schedule for eligible people to start their planning conversation with the National Disability Insurance Agency was developed and agreed to by the Commonwealth and ACT Governments.

Over two years, people with a disability will be able to access the NDIS according to either their date of birth, or for school-age children, their academic year.

Residents of group homes will transition together so that each household can be assessed at the same time. The youngest person in the household will determine at what time the household is transitioned to the NDIS.

This will ensure the NDIS is sustainable and equitable for all people with a disability in the ACT.

More information about the transition is available on the Transitioning to the NDIS webpage.

Disability Services (Disability Service Providers) Amendment Act 2014

Until a nationally consistent approach to safeguards is developed, all jurisdictions have agreed to maintain their own existing quality assurance framework.

  • The Disability Services (Disability Service Providers) Amendment Bill 2014 passed the Legislative Assembly in June 2014 and came into effect on 1 July 2014.
  • The amendments enable the ACT to maintain existing safeguards and quality standards for disability services during the National Disability Insurance Scheme trial as per the ACT’s commitment under the Intergovernmental Agreement.
  • The amendments removes the reliance on a funding relationship and the requirement for disability service providers to enter into an agreement with the Minister in order to be within the scope of the regulatory regime of the Act.

The ACT Government retains responsibility for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the provisions outlined in the legislation. Penalties can be imposed if a provider does not provide requested information or comply with standards or directions.

The current jurisdiction of the Disability Official Visitor was also reliant on a funding relationship between the disability accommodation provider and the Minister. The amendment now enables the operation of the Disability Official Visitor in the NDIS trial environment.

The amendments to the Act do not increase regulatory burden for disability service providers.