Mandatory NDIS Registration – Have Your Say

In shades of July 2018, the NDIS sector is abuzz with questions about NDIS Registration. Today we take you through the current context of registration as well as quick run-down of how we got here; what the proposed changes will mean and how you can have your say on what the new registration process should look like.  

The Prompt For Change – The NDIS Review 

The NDIS Review took place over 2023 and took a comprehensive look at all parts of the NDIS from multiple perspectives. The release of the NDIS Review Recommendations signalled major reform across a range of areas and one of the most talked about points has been the suggestion that in future NDIS Registration or enrolment will be mandatory for all providers. Up front we acknowledge the complexity of this issue, including and not limited to the perspectives of participants, their advocates, providers and related agencies.  

Four Levels of Registration are Proposed 

Four different pathways have been suggested that are aligned to the level of risk related to the support that the provider offers. Unsurprisingly, fears abound after our first go around with NDIS Registration – for those Allied Health businesses offering Early Childhood Supports and Behaviour Supports, both considered to be high risk supports, registration has been a huge time commitment, expensive and anxiety inducing. Even the more streamlined Verification has been difficult to justify in a business case with fewer and fewer Participants needing or even wanting to access registered providers.  

The NDIS Review team have tried to build a model that is far more fit for purpose, with a very light touch enrolment at one end and a very comprehensive auditable process at the other. We have explained the four levels in more detail along with the submission questions on our NDIS Registration Taskforce Submission Template 2024 downloadable which you can find here. 

The Participants Voice and a New Taskforce 

What did take a few of us by surprise, was that the most pushback against mandatory registration has been Participants who fear the loss of choice and control over who they use to support them. On reflection, this makes complete sense. We hear from many Participants who have more than enough capacity to make informed decisions about who delivers their support without the government interfering in the process.  

On the other hand, the government are dispensing billions of taxpayer dollars and as such visibility over who is receiving those dollars is desirable. There is also the situation where a Participant may not have the capacity to ensure that they are making safe and quality choices about their providers of support, leaving them more vulnerable than ever to some of the hideous fraudulent and abuse practises.  

Then there is the provider market – those who have gone through considerable processes and expense to pass the registration process would like a level playing field. Payments after all are the same whether a business is registered or not. Our views on registration are mixed. Like many others, we have been unable to make a cost benefit business case for NDIS registration for quite some time, but the benefits to business in improved governance, process and risk management are obvious. 

With all this in mind, a taskforce has been pulled together led by the incredible lawyer and advocate Natalie Wade. Submissions to this taskforce are now open and we strongly suggest that you take the time to pop in a sub from the point of view of the small – medium business / private market. In an effort to save you busy people time, we have developed the NDIS Registration Taskforce Submission Template 2024  which you can access here. The taskforce has a tight turn around for closure of submissions 28th April 2024, followed by a presentation of their recommendations due by mid-year. 

How We Got Here 

Following the introduction of NDIS Registration in 2018 by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, providers – many of whom had previously only had to fill out a form to be considered to be ‘registered’ –  now faced with a comprehensive application, compliance and audit process. Initially, even if your business offered the lowest risk supports, if your business was set up in a company structure, you were required to register via the most comprehensive pathway (i.e. Certification).   

Over time, requirements were modified to make registration more manageable for sole traders and businesses offering low risk supports; but in the meantime, the link between how Participants choose to manage their NDIS Plans (Agency, Plan or Self) and the registration status of the business became clear. Once savvy Participants and Providers made the connection that Participants did not need to find registered providers if they Plan or Self-Managed their NDIS Plans, the shift of Plans from Agency (Portal) managed to Plan or Self-Managed was nothing short of seismic, sparking the light speed growth of a multimillion dollar Plan Management industry and the sound of NDIS Registration being dropped like summertime thunderstorm hailstones on a tin roof. (For my former colleagues reading this I hate to say I told you so, but ……). As at the last reporting period, just 9% of Plans are now Agency managed making the incentive to register extremely weak. 

The Current Market Profile  

Based on ABNs linked to NDIS claiming data suggests that currently approximately 150 000 providers are unregistered and approximately 12 000 are registered providers. We note that only about half of these registered providers are actively claiming.  

The risk that has been highlighted by the NDIS Review is the lack of visibility that government has over these unregistered providers. Most terrifyingly from our point of view, is that ZERO screening of those workers is required for them to provide that support. We know that many unregistered providers are diligent with police / working with children / working with vulnerable people checks, but how can anyone be confident that these are being completed consistently? 

We all know that there are loads of unregistered providers who are providing excellent supports to their clients. However, we also know that predatory people know about these loopholes too and that leaves some of our most vulnerable citizens extremely exposed. I can barely think about it without shuddering. 

Sadly, it has been repeatedly shown that registration does not completely prevent predatory or abusive behaviour either and we hope that the taskforce make some recommendations around how the registration process can better screen for this rather than being purely a box ticking of paperwork exercise. 

Help the Taskforce Get It Right.  

The taskforce needs to hear from Allied Health Business Owners about the current registration reality. Tell them about the time cost, audit costs, and auditor inconsistencies. Provide suggestions about what is more appropriate and proportional to the level of risk you manage in delivering your services. What a registration process that really prevents the breach of human rights might look like. 

Help them make a sensible recommendation about ensuring that the basic screening processes are in place to ensure a minimum of protection for our citizens; visibility of how tax payer dollars are being spent is occurring and businesses are able to complete the process without a giant hit to the bottom line in terms of cost of audit and cost of time in preparing the required evidence to pass the registration test. 

Over To You 

That’s my whirlwind run through the story of NDIS Registration to this point. Now it’s time for you to download our scaffold and pop your thoughts onto paper. This is your chance to inform the Taskforce about what you think NDIS registration should look like in the future. 

Submissions are due by 28th April 2024. You can download our NDIS Registration Taskforce Submission Template 2024 and prompts as well as the details of the proposed new model here. 

Note that the submission text box has a 60,000 character limit. 

You can submit via the NDIS Provider and Worker Registration website here.  

If you would like to submit a video instead, you can make a request at  [email protected] 

We Are With You
We trust that you find the template a good place to start for gathering and expressing (then submitting) your thoughts on this matter. We get that this is extra work on top of your usual busy-ness, but… we believe that while the NDIS continues to request our input, we need to seize every opportunity and share out thoughts. You know where we are if you need a hand.
Signing off.

PS. Time for that Power Call you have been thinking about.  

Fill up this form to download the document

NDIS Registration Taskforce Submission Template 2024

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Chantelle Robards
Chantelle Robards has a long history with supporting the NDIS marketplace through provision of technical information and advocacy. As a speech pathologist who continues to support a small caseload she has comprehensive insight into the business community especially with regards to the NDIS. Chantelle's ultimate goal is to ensure an ethical and thriving market place that provides the very best of support to all Australians who are seeking it.

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