Creating a voice for the Disability Sector
Creating a voice for the Disability Sector
More than 484,000 Australians are being supported by the NDIS

More than 484,000 Australians are being supported by the NDIS

12 November 2021

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is now providing support and services to around 484,700 participants, according to the NDIS quarterly report released this November.

That is a jump of 17,700 from the 466,619 participants in five months which was revealed by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission 2020-21 annual report released just after June 30 this year.

Along with the escalation of the number of complaints, perhaps most glaring in the Commission’s report is the skyrocketing number of “unauthorised use of restrictive practices” lodged with the Commission against people with a disability cases - 240% in 12 months.

The report showed NDIS providers used unauthorised restraints on clients – such as sedating or strapping down a person, or depriving them of their personal belongings – more than one million times in 2020-21.

The new figures, reported to federal parliament by the Commission, have prompted calls for an investigation.

The figures show more than 1,032,064 cases of unauthorised use of restrictive practices against people with a disability were reported to the Commission, up from 302,690 in 2019-20 - that’s almost 730,000 cases.

There were 1,044,851 reportable incidents lodged with the NDIS Commission - 98.7% of those reportable incidents concerned the use of unauthorised restrictive practices against people with a disability.

These incidents included:

  • Alleged sexual misconduct - Up from 350 in 2019-2020 to more than 418 in 2020/21.
  • Allegations of unlawful physical/sexual contact - More than 20,030 (up from 1671)
  • Unauthorised use of restrictive practices - More than 1,032,064 (up from 302,690)
  • Alleged abuse and neglect - More than 5971 (up from 3637)
  • Serious injury (including accidents) - - More than 3189 (1854 in 2019/20)
  • Any death - More than 1179 (up from 838).

The NDIS Act defines a restrictive practice as any practice or intervention that has the effect of restricting the rights or freedom of movement of a person with disability.

The primary purpose of a restrictive practice should be to protect the person with disability or others from harm, the Commission states.

There are five categories of restrictive practices that are regulated by the NDIS Commission.: Chemical restraint, environmental restraint, mechanical restraint, physical restraint and seclusion.

For example, restrictive practices may include: physical restraints (use of straps, belts, wheelchair bars, wheelchair belts, inappropriate use of wheelchair brakes, tucking in sheets too tightly, bed rails, straightjackets), holding a person or restricting a person from moving freely, pinning them down on the floor or against a wall.

Further information is available on the NDIS Commission’s website.

Section 73Z(4) of the NDIS Act and section 16(3) of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Incident Management and Reportable Incidents) Rules 2018 (Incident Management and Reportable Incidents Rules) defines a reportable incident as when a restrictive practice is used:

  • Without authorisation by the relevant state or territory (however described), or
  • Not in accordance with a behaviour support plan.

The report shows complaints also continue to skyrocket, with 7231 complaints received by the commission during the year, up from 4469 the previous 12 months.

This included the proportion of complaints received directly from people with disability, a family member, friend or advocate at 75%.

The breakdown included complaints from:

Guardians and advocates etc
Person with a disability
Family member or friend of a person with a disability
Support workers or service providers
Government bodies

Issues raised by complaints received in the same period:

Provider practice
Worker conduct or capability
Alleged abuse and neglect
Provider policies and procedures

The Commission report also shows that as at June 30 this year, there were 5077 registered NDIS organisations across the five specialised service groups in which providers are required to meet additional standards, as providers can be registered across more than one specialist service group.

Broken down, these included:

  • 888 Specialist Disability Accommodation
  • 1259 Specialist Behaviour Supports
  • 1787 High Intensity Daily Personal Activities
  • 1624 Specialist Support Coordination
  • 2096 Early Intervention Supports for Early Childhood

Registered service providers include all sizes of organisations and businesses, from sole traders to large corporates and not-for-profit included 11,204 organisations and 6630 individuals.

NDIS Quarterly Report

Meanwhile, released earlier this November, the latest quarterly report for the NDIS demonstrates the increased efforts to build a better scheme for participants and their families and carers.

National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) CEO Martin Hoffman said the latest report shows the scheme’s progress, successes and challenges during a time when the nation is working to emerge from COVID-19.

“I’m pleased today’s report shows the NDIS is supporting 484,700 participants, with more than half of whom hadn’t received support before the NDIS,” Mr. Hoffman said.

“In the past quarter, we focused our efforts on supporting participants and disability workers to get vaccinated, and to ensure participants continue to receive essential services.”

While working through the pandemic like the rest of the country, the NDIA also worked to progress a co-design approach for making a better NDIS.

Other key statistics in the quarterly report include:

  • 38% of participants who received plans were children aged under 7 years.
  • 95% of parents and carers thought the NDIS improved their child’s development at their most recent plan review.
  • 68% decrease in the number of people under the age of 65 entering residential aged care from March 2018 compared to 30 June 2021.
  • Nine percentage point increase for participants aged 15-24 years gaining employment.

The report also shows that the NDIA continued to improve on its Participant Service Guarantee, with the latest report showing:

  • 100% of access decisions were made within 21 days.
  • 100% of planning implementation meetings were held after a participant accepts a plan within 28 days.
  • 89% of interval reviews of a reviewable decision after a request is received were made within 60 days.

For a more detailed breakdown of the quarterly report, head here, or to check out the Commission’s findings, visit here.

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