One question we regularly get asked by worried providers familiarising themselves with the NDIS registration process is "who is going to pay for all of this?" Unfortunately, our answer often does little to allay concerns.
There are undeniably costs associated with maintaining NDIS registration, particularly due to the requirement for external audits. During a three year registration cycle, providers will need to complete a self-assessment and an external audit in order to ensure they are complying with the NDIS Practice Standards. Audits must be undertaken by an auditing body certified by the Quality and Safeguarding Commission.
The brunt of it is, providers are responsible for bearing the costs of their audit. From what we are hearing, the expenditure could be anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000.
There is a section in the NDIS Amendment Act 2017 that allows for the provision of grants to support organisations with registration. However, at this time, there is no public information about when, or even if, this will occur (sorry!).
Bear in mind that registration requirements are designed to be proportionate. Small providers will not be expected to present the same amount of evidence as large, national providers.
Organisations will also need to make the necessary investments to ensure they are meeting the registration requirements. After all, there is no point in spending money on an audit if you have not spent the money to ensure you will pass it. As we explore in our Quality and Safeguarding workshops, providers will have to invest in:
Staff training in the NDIS Code of Conduct;
Ensuring organisational understanding of the NDIS Practice Standards;
Reviewing internal complaints and incident reporting systems;
Understanding the new behavioural support requirements; and,
Ensuring worker screening policies are adhered to.
For national providers, there will be some long-term reprieve from the additional pressure on the hip pocket. As the McKinsey&Company Independent Pricing Review states, “In the longer term, the framework may represent a cost efficiency for national providers – who will only need to comply with one set of standards, as opposed to one in each jurisdiction.”
However, many providers working in the NDIS are state-based and operating with very slim margins. In such a lean environment, it is understandable that some providers are concerned that these additional expenses could be the straw that breaks the camels back. All you can do to prevent this is arm yourself with information and work to make your quality systems as efficient as possible.