NDIS providers will get assistance to retain workers as part of a suite of supports announced by the Federal Government in response to COVID-19.

The announcement came after a meeting of the COAG Disability Reform Council on March 13.

NDIS minister Stuart Robert said the new measures will ensure essential support is in place for NDIS participants, workers and providers through the COVID-19 outbreak.

They financial assistance, including advance payments, a 10 per cent COVID-19 loading on some supports and making cancellation policies more flexible.

“We are providing financial assistance to help NDIS providers remain viable and to retain their staff,’ Mr Robert said.

Cash flow relief

Registered NDIS providers will be eligible for a one-month advance payment based on a monthly average of supports delivered in the previous three months period, which the government says will provide immediate cash flow relief.

To cover the additional costs of service delivery for existing supports, a 10 per cent COVID-19 loading will be added to price limits for certain supports for up to six months.

The NDIA’s cancellation pricing policy will be relaxed to allow providers to charge the full 100 per cent for the price of a cancelled service, and the definition of ‘short notice cancellation’ will also be broadened.

Work is also being done to find additional disability support workers, including upskilling displaced workers from other industries and matching existing and new workers to areas where there is a demand for services.

For participants

 Meanwhile, NDIS plans will be extended by up to 24 months so NDIA staff can focus on urgent and required changes to plans.

“To allow NDIA staff to direct their focus on urgent changes to participant plans as a result of the impacts of COVID-19, we have allowed NDIS plans to be extended by up to 24 months, ensuring continuity of support,” Mr Robert said.

The NDIA will also take a flexible approach to amending plans and, where necessary, shift capacity building funding to funding for core supports.

Face to face planning will shift to telephone meetings where possible.

“Telephone meetings are being offered to all current and potential NDIS participants as a safer way to continue service delivery, including for new plans and plan reviews, during the current phase of the COVID 19 outbreak,” the minister said.

“We are closely monitoring for any new service gaps that might open. If usual services cannot be delivered by a provider, the NDIA will work with states and territories to source an alternative provider who can step in to provide the required essential services.”

The health department has developed advice on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when looking after people who have or are suspected of having COVID-19. Information is available at www.health.gov.au/covid19-resources.

There is also a free training module for support workers, including those in the disability sector, about infection prevention and control for COVID-19, available at covid-19training.com.au/login.php.

More information for NDIS providers and disability support workers is available on the NDIS website www.ndis.gov.au and the NDIS Commission website: www.ndiscommission.gov.au.

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