Statement from the Chief Executive Officer: Regarding NDIS Market Inquiry

On Thursday 15 June, Speech Pathology Australia, represented by Cathy Olsson and myself, presented evidence to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS, Inquiry into NDIS Market Readiness. This involved speaking on a joint panel with several peak bodies including Occupational Therapy Australia, Australian Physiotherapy Association, Allied Health Professions Australia, and VHA (Victorian Healthcare Association).

In both our opening statement, and in answering the questions posed by the committee we discussed several key issues for members around the NDIS. These included the burdensome administration costs and demands, as well as the hidden costs regarding unpaid non-face to face but necessary clinical support activities. The committee was particularly interested in difficulties that are facing organisations and small (or solo) practices in this area.

The recommendations around pricing that were made within the Independent Pricing Review and their subsequent impact upon providers of supports within the NDIS were also strongly raised by both the Association and others. Members’ concerns around the unsustainability of practices and likely deregistration from the NDIS leading to thin or failing markets, were discussed from a speech pathology perspective, and also clarified and expanded upon following questions raised by the committee.

The peak bodies all conveyed very similar messages, particularly those from the allied health groups but equally VHA conveyed similar issues from their members who are primarily larger disability (and aged care) providers. This resulted in the committee hearing a united voice regarding the concerns faced by members, as well as other allied health professionals and service providers.

The information that has been provided from members throughout the surveys, as well as directly to Speech Pathology Australia staff regarding particular cases was invaluable to support the evidence given to the committee. Feedback and data is crucial to aid in the committee’s understanding of the issues that are facing speech pathologists (and other allied health practitioners) as the NDIS rolls out. An area the committee was particularly interested in was the extent to which people with disability are currently missing out on services or experiencing long delays in being able to access services due to high service demands or unavailability of providers.

It was heartening that the committee appeared to understand well the range of issues presented. They will feedback the information gathered through the inquiry in a report and recommendations to the government.

Please continue to contact National Office to raise your concerns and reply to surveys to ensure that your voice is heard, and that advocacy continues to address areas that are important to you as members.

Gail Mulcair
Chief Executive Officer

15 June 2018