Speech Pathology Australia (SPA), the national peak body representing speech pathologists, has tirelessly advocated for an increase in National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) pricing arrangements for speech pathology services over the past three years. Despite these extensive efforts, the recent release of the latest NDIS Pricing Guide (NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits 2023-24), without any change to pricing for speech pathologists, has left the organisation and many of its members frustrated and concerned about the sustainability of services provided to NDIS clients. "The absence of any change in pricing for speech pathologists in the latest NDIS Pricing Guide is deeply disappointing," said National President, Kathryn McKinley.
"In response, Speech Pathology Australia has written to Minister Shorten expressing our concerns highlighting the risks associated with the sustainability of speech pathology services for NDIS participants," she said.
"Many of our members are in private practice, with a large number of solo practitioners running a small business. It has been four years since a price increase and the small businesses cannot sustain such a prolonged period without an increase that reflects the cost of living. It will have a deep impact on their ability to maintain high quality services," said Kathryn.
Over the years, Speech Pathology Australia has actively engaged in various initiatives to highlight the need for fairer pricing within the NDIS framework. Furthermore, Speech Pathology Australia has supported Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) in their submissions and meetings with government bureaucrats and Ministers, advocating with the same message to increase pricing. With the Consumer Price Index annual change increasing from 3 per cent in 2020 to 7.0 per cent in 2023 and a 3.7 per cent increase in the Wage Price Index over the year to the March quarter 2023, there is extreme pressure on speech pathologists to sustain their small business.
A recent survey of our members who provide NDIS services reported that they are struggling to meet the costs of running their business. Thirty-four per cent indicated that the NDIS price cap does not cover the cost of the service. More than 50 per cent of speech pathology members surveyed who provide NDIS services reported they have concerns about the pricing cap for therapy services. A member from rural Queensland said, "Keeping the prices the same is unsustainable for small businesses. If the NDIS fails to increase the price guide for another consecutive year (despite significant increases to businesses expenses not limited to rent, electricity, wages, professional development, fuel), I have no doubt that further business closures will occur, consequently leading to a further shortage of allied health professionals for NDIS clients." A member in metropolitan Melbourne said, "Capping prices, and then not raising prices for a few years is seriously hampering the growth and progression of the profession and has resulted in financial distress and the closure of some practices and services. If not improved soon, more practices will close."
Speech Pathology Australia calls on the Federal Government to recognise the vital role of speech pathologists in the lives of individuals with communication and swallowing difficulties and take immediate action to consider an increase in the NDIS price for speech pathology services consistent with the Consumer Price Index, to ensure the sustainability of services under the NDIS.
Date - 21 June 2023
Media contact: Communications and Marketing Manager, Rebecca Faltyn, [email protected]
Speech Pathology Australia
is the national peak body representing more than 14,000 speech pathologists. The Association supports and regulates the ethical, clinical and professional standards of its members, as well as lobbying and advocating for access to services that benefit people with communication and swallowing difficulties.