FAQs from SPA members

Please find below responses to questions Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) members frequently ask about the NDIS. The information contained in this document is of a general nature. For specific advice tailored to your individual needs private practitioners are encouraged to seek independent legal or professional advice.

If you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact Speech Pathology Australia on 03 9642 4899 or 1300 368 835 or marketing@speechpathologyaustralia.org.au

Will all of my clients transition onto the NDIS?

The NDIS is a nationwide social reform. It will not replace Medicare, but it will replace a number of other funding streams including the Better Start and Helping Children With Autism packages under the Department of Social Services (formerly known as FaHCSIA). It has been a staggered roll out, with almost all areas of the country now rolled out.

To access the NDIS a person must:

  • Have a permanent disability that significantly affects their ability to take part in everyday activities
  • Be aged 0-65 when they enter the NDIS
  • Be an Australian citizen or hold a permanent visa or a Protected Special Category visa.

There are a range of different diagnoses that are deemed ‘permanent’ by the NDIA, detailed on List A. Others may qualify, if evidence of the functional impact of the condition is provided. These types of conditions are on List B. It is important to note that having a diagnosis from these lists means that the process may be initiated for that client, not that they are guaranteed to receive a plan, or how much funding that plan will be for.

For issues or conditions not on List A, the client or family would need to put forth a case as to why the person requires additional supports beyond what would be usual for their age in order to participate in their family, community, and home life. It may be worth consulting the NDIS document regarding what they determine to be reasonable and necessary supports for each age group.

For children under seven years of age who have a condition on List D they will be given access to the NDIS without having to prove their eligibility. The level of funding and specific supports included in their NDIS plan should still be tailored to their individual needs and circumstances as part of developing their plan.

If you are writing a support letter, or filling out part of the access request form, it is important to be clear about the speech pathology interventions you would recommend, and how they will support the person’s participation and their quality of life. You can also discuss the impact of their difficulties on their family and home life e.g. social isolation, stress, limitations on activities etc. Please see the Writing reports for NDIS guide.

Please note for school aged children that the NDIA does not fund educational supports. The interventions and outcomes for school aged children which the NDIS will support need to be linked to involvement in activities and increases in participation, not educational outcomes.

Do I have to register for the NDIS to provide services to NDIS participants?

Not necessarily. Some participants receiving NDIS funds are able to access services from providers who aren’t registered - those who are managing their own funds, known as self-managed participants, and those who have a third party managing their funding, known as plan managed participants.

A third group of participants, called agency or NDIS managed, are only able to access registered providers using their NDIS funding. Currently approximately 30% of NDIS participants are NDIA/agency managed and therefore can only be seen by registered providers. Members can read more about the differences between plan management types on the ‘NDIS Plan Management Options’ guide on the NDIS page.

I employ other speech pathologists in my practice, do they need to be registered for NDIS? What about contractors?

No, employees and contractors do not need to have their own registration, as they will be working for your organisation under your umbrella, ABN, and registration. However, they are required to register with PRODA and have their own account, which will then be linked to the lead business account. In this way a particular client’s session can be attached to one therapist, although the billing and payments will still be made through the organisation’s PRODA account. You can find out more about registering for an account here.

Please note that if you have employees or are using contractors, it is your responsibility to make sure that they fulfil the requirements to deliver those supports e.g. being CPSP (provisional or full), having the appropriate working with children check/blue card etc, receiving supervision, and holding or being covered by the appropriate insurance.

Can new graduates see NDIS clients?

Yes, new graduates who have membership with SPA are able to see NDIS clients. Speech pathologists working under NDIS can be provisional or full CPSP.

Can NDIS therapists see clients at school?

A child who meets the access criteria for the NDIS will be provided with supports to meet their goals in a plan. Potentially this will include funding for therapy services targeting goals for a child’s functional participation in their community and family. The NDIA have stated that NDIS funds are not to be used to target specifically educationally based goals, however it is possible that an educational setting will be one of the environments in which children are seen by NDIS therapists.

Therapists are not automatically granted entry into a school under NDIS. Similar to any other private practitioner, whilst the parent can employ that person and request services at school, it is the principal of that school who has to give permission for therapy to occur there. The school principal has duty of care responsibility and is also responsible for children achieving their educational outcomes. Whether or not external therapists, including those providing NDIS funded supports are able to provide services at a school, is at the principal’s discretion.

In making their decisions, Principals may consider a range of issues including: the number of therapists altogether (and speech pathologists specifically) who are providing input and support for a student; whether there are appropriate rooms or spaces where therapy can be provided on the school premises; the students educational programme and whether it may be appropriate for the child withdrawn and for how long; and a range of health and safety issues.

The Principal can also determine whether children are able to be absent from school to attend therapy elsewhere. If children are being seen at school under NDIS, it is important for therapists to have a written agreement with the school about the therapy that will be provided, and ensure they have the necessary level of insurance, and that they are able to comply with any of the school policies regarding required training e.g. first aid, anaphylaxis.

Certain states have released specific guidelines regarding external therapists providing support in schools, including recommended service agreements. At present there are guidelines for NSW and Victoria, and other states may have their own guidelines. It is the provider’s responsibility to ensure that they are following the recommendations of the education department in their state.

Do I have to provide therapy services during the gap between plans?

Not necessarily. The NDIA have stated “If a participant is waiting for a plan review and their plan has expired, and if a support is in line with what a person was previously receiving in their plan, the NDIA will cover the expense. The NDIA will extend the old plan to the day before the start of the next plan. This will enable providers to receive payment under your old plan for services they may have provided during the gap period."

There may be times however when a plan is not continued, or there is no longer funding for speech therapy within the new plan. It is not stated in the Terms of Business that therapists must provide services, therefore it is a business decision as to whether you choose to take this risk. If the Service Agreement end date coincides with the date the plan ends, your ‘contract’ to the participant is no longer active when the Plan ends, and you are not obliged to provide supports until a new agreement

is put in place. Some clinicians cover this possibility within their service agreement (for example, stating clearly that services provided during a plan gap will need to be paid by the parent/participant if they don’t get further funding). Alternatively, during a plan gap you may require parents to pay on the day for services provided. If parents wish to continue to receive services during a gap between plans, it may be worth explaining this to participants in regards to their Service Agreement and using that as the determiner of service provision.

Can I charge for part of an hour, rather than a whole hour session?

Yes, you can submit payment requests that involve a decimal e.g. 0.5. When working out additional costs for travel for instance, this would be expressed as a decimal.

Please note that while a payment request can be made for part of an hour, service bookings can only be made for whole hours, therefore you will need to allow for additional hours for part payment requests e.g. if you are conducting hour sessions (1.0), with 20 minutes (0.33) of charged travel, charging a total of 1.33, you would need to allow create a service booking of 4 hours to cover 3 sessions.

Can I charge for travel under NDIS?

Under the 2020/21 Price Guide, travel can be charged according to a time based system. Providers are now able to charge for up to 30 minutes of travel to a participant, or between participants who live in metro areas. The last client of the day, or client that is seen before returning to base can also be charged up to 30 minutes for return travel, For MMM4 and MMM5 areas, which are considered ‘regional’, providers can charge up to 60 minutes. Travel can be shared amongst participants seen at the one external location (e.g. school, residential facility) but the total cost must not exceed the amount for the round trip e.g. 60 or 120 minutes.

Additionally, providers can now (with the permission) charge for the ‘non labour costs’ associated with travel:

  • up to $0.85 a kilometre for a vehicle that is not modified for accessibility; and General NDIS FAQs
  • other forms of transport or associated costs up to the full amount, such as road tolls, parking, public transport fares.

Please see the SPA pricing table and NDIS Price Guide for more information.

How do I provide feedback to the NDIA, or make a complaint?

In the first instance, try to raise your concerns with the person/people most directly involved. If you don’t feel satisfied with this response, you can use the NDIS complaints and feedback system. If the issue is around a particular participant and their supports, you can provide information and help them to make their way through the process. If they are willing to have you act on their behalf, you will need to provide documentation of their consent to do so to the NDIS.

Providing feedback directly to the NDIA is critically important. This is partially to enable the NDIS to identify what sorts of problems are arising, and to understand whether they are widespread and systemic, or specific to a region, site or even an individual. This information enables the NDIS to prioritise where they need to focus, and work out where and what types of solutions need to be put in place. The other important reason to use the NDIS feedback system is to ensure that there is clear evidence for decision makers regarding the types issues that are occurring, and information about how many participants and providers are being impacted.

You can submit a complaint via the online NDIA feedback and complaints form; via email at feedback@ndis.gov.au ; or call 1800 800 110.

In the first instance, try to raise your concerns with the person/people most directly involved, or use their feedback and complaints process. If you continue to have concerns, and you are in any state or territory excluding WA, you are able to contact the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission who are responsible for governance of all providers- registered and un-registered- working with NDIS participants. You can find out more about the complaints process on their website.

How can I get further information or support?

There is extensive information on the NDIS website. Specific questions can be directed to the NDIA directly via their enquiries team at enquiries@ndis.gov.au

Members can join the disability member community on Facebook, for regular updates regarding the NDIS. Specific questions can be emailed to the or National Disability Advisor, or directed to National Office on 1300 368 835.

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Original: February 2018

Updated: August 2020

Disclaimer: To the best of the Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited’s (“the Association”) knowledge, this information is valid at the time of publication. The Association makes no warranty or representation in relation to the content or accuracy of the material in this publication. The information in this publication is of a general nature; it does not apply to any specific circumstances.  The information does not constitute legal or other advice. The Association expressly disclaims any and all liability (including liability for negligence) in respect of the use of the information provided. The Association recommends you seek independent professional advice prior to making any decision involving matters outlined in this publication.

 

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