December 22, 2023

What changes can we expect to see for disability services in Australia?

With the growth of the NDIS scheme surpassing the initial projections and questions arising around the long-term financial sustainability of the scheme, an independent review was commissioned and began in October 2022 with the focus on:

- Putting people with disability back at the centre of the NDIS

- Restoring trust, confidence, and pride in the NDIS, and

- Ensuring the sustainability of the NDIS for future generations

The final report was released at the start of December, making 26 recommendations with 139 supporting actions that aim to address the focus areas noted above. Key areas covered by the recommendations include access to the scheme, how individual support packages are budgeted, how much providers can charge for services as well as regulation of the providers.

The recommendations are a complete package of changes aimed towards creating a unified ecosystem of supports for people with disability incorporating inclusive, accessible mainstream services; foundational support systems for all people with disability; and a reformed participant pathway in the NDIS for those who need individualised budgets. The implementation of these changes must be done by all governments working together in partnership with people with disability, their families, and carers. In recognition that change can be difficult for participants to navigate, a five-year transition plan has been recommended to allow participants the time to understand the changes and have their say before they are impacted by them.

We await the response from the Australian Government on the recommendations outlined in the report and will closely monitor the roadmap of changes when they are released.

What do the changes with PACE involve?

- Changes in Billing and Payment Systems: The PACE system introduces a more streamlined and efficient billing process, allowing providers access to a new payment platform, thereby ensuring smoother transactions.

- Impact on NDIS Plans: In the PACE system, funding amounts remain unchanged for current and future plans. While existing plans will retain their format, new plans issued post-transition will adopt an easier-to-read PACE format. This change applies to plans rolling over before February 2024 as well.

- Enhanced Flexibility in Funding Categories: PACE plans offer greater flexibility in funding, with allocations made at the support category level rather than specific line items. This change means plans will indicate broader categories, such as “Improved Daily Life”, enhancing budget flexibility.

- Service Bookings and Support Types: Under PACE, NDIS plans will not include service bookings, granting participants more choice and control over their funding. The system shifts from 3 to 4 support types, including Core, Capacity Building, Capital, and Recurring.

- Introduction of New Support Categories: The PACE system expands to 21 support categories for clearer and more understandable categorization. Budgets will be displayed at the support category level, with six new categories specifically designated for particular types of support.

Will participants need to review their plan?

Existing plans will continue without changes, and the transition to PACE will not alter NDIS plan dates. When your participants receive any new plan, they will be enrolled in the PACE system with plans formatted accordingly.

Changes for providers

Participants can maintain relationships with existing providers. Agency-managed participants must designate their providers as “participant-endorsed providers” (myProvider) for access to funding. Plan-managed participants have the flexibility to choose whether to record providers.

The PACE system also introduces the ability for participants to give consent to providers to view specific parts of their plan, promoting privacy and tailored information sharing.

Benefits for members

The PACE system offers several advantages for participants, primarily increased flexibility in funding. With category-level funding and selective consent for information sharing, participants gain more control over their plans and services. This approach is expected to facilitate outcomes-based services, in line with the NDIS’s goals to enhance the benefits received from funding.