COVID-19: New measures to support NDIS

Over the last 24 hours the Federal Government has made announcements about COVID-19 and the NDIS.

These announcements do not respond to the urgent demands we put to Government last week about greater access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for the disability sector. The Government has also not supported our call to guarantee that no disability worker to go without pay because of COVID-19 (due to isolation, or client cancellation or illness). However the additional supports and funding they are giving NDIS services should be used by services to ensure workers continue to be employed and paid throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

NOTE: This information is as of 5pm, Sunday March 22nd.

We will provide further updates to members over the coming days if other announcements are made that relate to closure of non-essential services or schools.  

For workers:

  • The Government has developed a new webinar on COVID-19 preparedness which is relevant to disability workers to watch.
  • If you are a casual worker or sole trader who experiences a significant reduction in your income because of COVID-19 you could be eligible to access the Job Seeker Payment (formerly known as Newstart) which will now include a Coronavirus supplement.

For NDIS participants and services:

  • NDIS participant plans will be extended by up to 24 months to ensure continuity of support. The NDIA will also take a flexible approach to amending plans and, where necessary, shift capacity building funding to funding for core supports.
  • Registered NDIS providers can now receive a one-month advance payment from the NDIA to provide immediate cash flow.
  • A 10% COVID-19 loading will be added to NDIS price limits for certain supports for up to six months. This includes:
    • core supports (Assistance with Daily Life (excluding Supported Independent Living) and Assistance with Social and Community Participation)
    • capacity building supports (Improved Daily Living)
  • The NDIA will now be more flexible around cancellation policy – allowing providers to charge the full 100% for the price of a cancelled service, and the definition of ‘short notice cancellation’ will also be broadened.
  • Providers can claim for the increased use of cleaning and personal protective equipment associated with COVID-19.
  • The Government has announced that small businesses and charities with a turnover of less than $50million will receive a cash payment of up to $100,000. Many NDIS providers will be able to access this.

For the disability sector:

  • The Government is developing a plan to source additional disability support workers to the sector in case current workers become ill or have to isolate. This plan will include the upskilling of displaced workers from other industries. The ASU is writing to the Government to ask for further consultation and to give input on this. The ASU will advocate strongly that the best way to prevent a shortage of workers in the sector is to pay the current workers special leave and we are calling upon all NDIS employers to make this important workplace right available to their staff.
  • The Government is developing an action plan to ensure NDIS participants and their families continue to receive the essential disability supports they need during COVID19. They have said that all NDIS service providers must notify the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission of any change to delivery of their services.

For more detail you can find the full announcements from the NDIS Minister here and a new fact sheet from the NDIS Commission here about what services should be doing to prepare for COVID-19.

ASU members can call our intake line on 02 9310 4000 or check out our COVID-19 page on our website for further information.