WA NDIS: The Devil in the Detail

Last Friday the WA State Government and Federal Government announced that they have agreed to a state run scheme in WA that will be different from the now not-so-National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Many people are concerned about the proposed changes, particularly because the State has yet to public release the full details of the WA model. The Commonwealth has stipulated eleven conditions that have been agreed upon, full details available here.

So what does the difference between the NDIS and "WA NDIS" boil down to and why are many advocates angered by this decision? As always, the devil is in the detail..

1. Contracts are between providers and the WA NDIS. Unlike the federal Scheme, contracts in WA bypass participants, linking providers directly to the funding body.

2. Participants have to go through Local Area Coordinators (known as LCs) to change providers. Not only are contracts between providers and the funding body, participants need to go through a LC to change providers. This is a cumbersome process and will likely deter some participants from switching providers, restricting real choice.

3.  Support Coordination can only be done by LCs. While NDIS participants can choose  between hundreds of people and organisations offering Support Coordination, WA participants have to no choice but to go through their LC.

4. Assistive technology can only be be bought through "the budget holder". The WA approach to AT is focused heavily on budget, rather than people's needs and fair choices.

5. Therapy provider choice is limited. The in-kind arrangements between providers and the government is restricting the number of therapy providers available in WA.

6. Saturdays and Sundays are paid at the same price. Unlike the NDIS Price Guide, there is a flat weekend support price for WA participants. This makes it prohibitive in some cases for providers to offer shifts on Sundays.

7. Self-managing participants claim using a paper-based system. Nobody would claim that the NDIS portal is a perfect system for claiming funds (or doing much else). In WA, they have managed to avoid the same technological disasters, though they've done this by opting for a time-consuming and complex paper-based system.

8. There is little to no funding available for plan management. WA participants report difficulty in getting any funding to help with managing their plans, unlike nationally where all participants are given the choice to self-manage or have their funds plan managed or Agency managed.

9. Participants can't get any Futures Planning in their plans. While NDIS participants can receive funding for this at key life points, this is not an option in WA.

10. Self-managing participants receive lower prices. This is a huge departure from the national system, where self-managing participants not only receive the full rate from the NDIS, but are also able to pay above the Price Guide (from their own money) if they choose to do so. In WA, self-managing participants are funded at lower rates which underestimates the administrative burden involved in self management and reduces the incentive to self-manage.

nodisadvantage, a WA-based advocacy group that will be holding a public meeting tonight at Swan View Youth Centre for "participants, politicians and pissed off advocates" to voice their concerns and be heard. The above list has been adapted with permission from nodisadvantage.

For full details of the event, click here.