Last week, we reported on a change to the Provider Toolkit FAQ which stated that Support Coordinators could not be paid to attend plan review meetings. We are very happy to see that the NDIA have since updated their answer to this question, as below (emphasis our own):
As a Support Coordinator you can assist participants to understand how they will engage and participate in NDIA processes. However a Support Coordinator's role is not to act as an advocate in NDIA processes. Advocacy services are funded separately by the Department of Social Services (see below for further information). Advocacy includes attending internal or external review meetings and hearings (including the Administrative Appeals Tribunal). As such, these activities cannot be funded from a participant's NDIS plan. This limitation also applies to attending NDIS planning conversations for the purposes of advocacy.
The Department of Social Services funds organisations through the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) to provide advocacy support services to assist participants when engaging in NDIA processes. NDAP provides people with disability with access to effective disability advocacy. Advocates work with people with disability to develop their personal skills and self-confidence to enable them to advocate on their own behalf; and educate people with disability about their rights.
The Disability Advocacy Finder is an online tool to help find NDIS Appeals providers and disability advocacy agencies across Australia.
Essentially, this updated answer says Support Coordinators can attend planning meetings and be paid to do so, so long as they are not there as a quote-unquote “advocate”.
We know that this change didn’t happen on its own and that a huge number of Support Coordinators, Participants and families have had a hand in influencing this correction.
We are all familiar with (and a bit tired of) the expression that the NDIS is a plane being built in flight. But it is wonderful to have moments like this, especially at this time of year, to remind us that the upside of the plane being built in flight is that we all have the opportunity to shape it into the kind of plane we want it to be.