29 Dec The NDIS: a self-regulating industry/market place.
When we hear that an industry is “self-regulating” we think of those that skirt the edges legally and morally:
- The finance industry: see the recent Royal Commission;
- The pharmaceutical industry: currently under-fire as self-regulation has resulted in a lack of transparency between marketing products to GPs and the increase in those particular medications being prescribed.
In my household, a media claim that an industry is ‘self-regulated’ is typically followed by an eyeroll and a deep knowledge that this most likely won’t end up well for consumers.
So it was a bit of a shock when I realised that NDIS Self-Management is exactly that. A self-regulated industry/marketplace where Self-Managing Participants create their own regulations governing what is an acceptable use of funding.
The NDIA have provided very little information on what self-management is and the rules we need to follow: Strong evidence that we are a self-regulating market.
Information on how to meet the government regulations imposed on self-managers is confined to one webpage and one booklet https://www.ndis.gov.au/participants/using-your-plan/self-management If we want to stretch, we can also include “Booklet 3” which is the overarching booklet of how to use your NDIS plan for all Participants and provided as an information source at the bottom of most NDIS Plans https://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/publications/booklets-and-factsheets
Minister Robert announced at the Press Club on 14 November 2019 that from 1 July 2020 the NDIS will aim to “remove the distinction between core and capacity building so that participants and their families can use plan funding more flexibly on those supports that best meet their needs” https://ministers.dss.gov.au/speeches/5266. So we know that the aspiration for the scheme is to create greater flexibility.
Instead of proudly pushing the envelope and creating a marketplace that challenges the inadequacies of the old system and supports our community to use “mainstream” supports, our community is terrified and is self-regulating so tightly that we risk losing any potential benefit from having individualised budgets.
Are we really taking a risk?
With little information around self-management audits and what is “allowable” expenditure, let’s take a look at the real risk. There is obvious fraud (buying a Lamborghini) – we are not talking about this. We are talking about:
- Using core supports to cover transport so that I am not stuck in my house all day and leaving a large staff budget unspent
- Using core supports to cover the costs of mainstream Zumba class rather than the day program Zumba class a local disability service provider offers (activity cost included in the day program fee)
- Using core supports to have NBN connected to my home because my DSP doesn’t stretch that far and reliable home internet means I can access all the information about the NDIS, use the MyPlace Portal, connect with staff and also watch a bunch of Netflix which helps reduce my social isolation as I can connect with fans of a show via facebook/insta etc.
We hear that if “caught” you can be asked to pay back the amount or lose the right to self management.
Pay back the amount
This is a Reviewable Decision.
(p) a decision to give a notice the CEO proposes to recover an amount;
Which means that you can submit an Internal Review (Review of a Reviewable Decision Form) and then continue through to the AAT (Tribunal) if needed.
Using the checklist on page 8 of the NDIS Guide to Self Management, do you back your decision to make that purchase all the way to the AAT?
You can also ask the CEO to write off a debt, and this in itself is a Reviewable Decision too
(r) a decision not to write off a debt;
You may lose the right to self-management and have to use Plan Management.
Again, Reviewable Decision
(i) a decision to make, or not to make, a determination in relation to a person;
Also, don’t forget that Minister Robert charged $2832 to his expense account for a month of home internet – and had been charging over $1000 per month for more than 2 years. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/06/liberal-mp-stuart-robert-to-repay-huge-home-internet-bills
This is what self-regulation typically looks like: Expectations should be high.