Jun 18, 2024

Concerns Mount Over Unvetted Providers Flooding NDIS Marketplace

Concerns Mount Over Unvetted Providers Flooding NDIS Marketplace
Projected costs for the NDIS could reach $90 billion annually by the decade’s end. [CoPilot].

An influx of unvetted businesses in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) marketplace is raising serious concerns among experts, who warn that the lack of oversight could lead to financial blowouts and potential exploitation of participants.

Services such as Dungeons & Dragons gaming nights and Lego-based therapy are among those being advertised in online communities, sparking debate over their legitimacy and effectiveness.

Popular Facebook groups are facilitating connections between NDIS participants and service providers offering everything from domestic cleaning and dog grooming to fishing camps and Lego therapy sessions.

These groups, which operate independently of the official NDIS programme, also promote 4WD weekends, luxury accommodations, ski trips, and cinema excursions. One post advertises Dungeons & Dragons sessions led by a “therapeutic host”. Requests from participants range from “hug therapy” to home painting assistance by “a couple of handymen”.

The majority of these advertised businesses are not registered with the NDIS, raising alarms about the potential risks to participants.

Fiona Macdonald, Policy Director at the Australia Institute, highlighted that while the NDIS is designed to empower individuals with disabilities to choose their own services, the current system lacks sufficient regulation.

“Without adequate oversight, many people have entered the disability sector with little understanding or ability to provide appropriate support,” she said. “I have encountered individuals in the sector who lack the skills to manage emergencies, ensure safety, or address the specific behavioural needs of their clients.”

Dungeons & Dragons sessions are priced at $65 per hour, Lego therapy at approximately $160 per session, and short-term luxury respite can cost up to $2000 per night. Depending on their NDIS packages, participants receive a certain amount of funding for community participation and recreational activities.

However, more than 80 per cent of NDIS recipients can directly engage with sole traders, thanks to the non-mandatory nature of NDIS business registration.

Critics argue that this allows anyone to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN), create a website, and start profiting from the NDIS without proving their credentials or safety standards.

“This is a major factor contributing to the scheme’s cost blowout,” a senior sector figure, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Telegraph. “Sole traders and pop-up businesses are not subjected to the same scrutiny as registered providers.”

Sydney psychiatrist Tanveer Ahmed voiced strong criticism in the Herald Sun: “The NDIS will be remembered as one of the most irresponsible uses of taxpayer funds in Australian history. There are no safeguards. As a doctor, I must justify that my treatments are scientifically valid. For the NDIS, anyone can set up shop, tap into the funds, and offer various services.”

Currently, up to 93 per cent of the 183,000 businesses benefiting from the NDIS are unregistered.

A spokesman for NDIS Minister Bill Shorten pointed to previous comments regarding unregistered providers: “Unregistered providers operate with little to no oversight of what they offer or whether they even deliver the services they charge for.”

A key recommendation from the NDIS Review in December was for all businesses involved in the scheme to undergo some form of registration, aiming to enhance the safety and quality of services provided to participants.

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  1. This cannot be a “one size fits all ” approach.
    I have an unregistered provider who does my our lawns, gardens& small handyman jobs. He has an intellectual disability & his service is quite small.
    If he had to jump through all the hoops & pay to be NDIS Registered he would have to drop us as his customer. That would be very sad because he is good at what he does, very reliable & value for money. It would also disadvantage him terribly because we all know how hard it is for an intellectually disabled person to be a sole trader.
    Perhaps there could be some sort of limit on the business turnover before they have to be NDIS Registered?

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