Extension of Commonwealth programs transitioning to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is funding for Commonwealth programs transitioning to the NDIS being extended?

There are still a number of clients remaining in Commonwealth disability programs who have not transitioned to the NDIS. This may be due to complexity of the client’s case or the nature of the supports required.

The Australian Government is investing over $165 million to extend funding to providers to support the transition of people in Commonwealth programs to the NDIS. Funding to support clients in most of the 14 Commonwealth programs has been extended up to 30 June 2020.

As part of this, the Government has also committed funding to extend the supports for clients in the three Commonwealth mental health programs transitioning to the NDIS, through arrangements with the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) up to 30 June 2020. This extension will enable continued support for vulnerable members of the community with mental health conditions to transition to the NDIS, and aligns with the Continuity of Support and National Psychosocial Support Measure to provide a suite of supports for people with psychosocial disability.

How much funding is the Australian Government providing?

In March 2019, the Government announced it would be investing over $165 million to extend funding to providers to support the transition of people in Commonwealth funded programs to the NDIS up to 30 June 2020.

Has funding for all transitioning programs been extended?

The following programs with clients transitioning to the NDIS will be extended to 30 June 2020:

  • Disability Employment Assistance (Australian Disability Enterprises) in New South Wales and South Australia
  • National Auslan Interpreter Booking and Payment Service
  • Outside School Hours Care for Teenagers with Disability
  • Remote Hearing and Vision Services for Children
  • Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker Program

Grants for the education and support components of the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) and Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start) programs, such as Autism Advisers, Registration and Information services, Early Intervention Indigenous Liaison Officers, support for Early Days Workshops, PlayConnect Playgroups, Playgroup Community Events and the Raising Children Network website, will be extended to 30 June 2020.

Clients can continue to access individualised funding for early intervention under HCWA and Better Start until the child turns seven, the child’s funding runs out, or the child has an approved NDIS plan in place, whichever occurs first. New registrations for individualised funding under these programs will be accepted until an NDIS Early Childhood Partner is established in a region.

For clients of the following transitioning carer programs, funding will be extended until 30 November 2019 to align with the implementation of the Integrated Carer Support Service:

  • Mental Health Respite: Carer Support
  • Respite Support for Carers of Young People with Severe or Profound Disability
  • Young Carers Respite and Information Services

Clients of the following mental health programs will be supported to transition through the Primary Health Networks to 30 June 2020:

  • Partners in Recovery (PIR)
  • Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs)
  • Support for Day to Day Living in the Community (D2DL)

The Work Based Personal Assistance program is delivered through Disability Employment Services providers, who have active grants until June 2023.

Will all providers in these programs receive additional funding?

Not all providers will need additional funding as some will have transitioned all of their clients or have residual funds to roll over.

Funding will be extended for those providers who still have clients to transition to the NDIS and require additional funds to support these clients to transition.

How will providers know if they will receive additional funding?

In March 2019, all providers will be contacted to advise them whether an extension will be offered.

How much funding will providers receive?

Funding for each provider will vary by program type and the number of clients the provider has left to transition.

PHNs will determine individual funding levels for its subcontracted mental health providers.

Will clients remain with their current provider under the extension?

For most programs, clients will see no change, noting some different arrangements will be in place for specific programs.

  • Under the transitioning carer programs, clients should remain with their providers until the end of November 2019.
  • For remaining clients of the three mental health programs – PHaMs, PIR and D2DL – where possible, the PHNs will engage existing providers to continue supporting people with psychosocial disability.

Could the funding be extended past 30 June 2020 if not everyone has transitioned?

All eligible Commonwealth clients should transition to the NDIS by 30 June 2020. Clients should transition earlier where possible, to ensure they can access the benefits of the NDIS as soon as they can.

What does this extension of funding mean for clients?

Extending funding until 30 June 2020 ensures existing Commonwealth clients will continue to receive the services and support they need while they transition to the NDIS. In most cases, clients will continue to be supported by existing providers.

When will programs have to stop accepting new clients?

No new clients will be accepted into programs from 1 July 2019 in areas where the NDIS has rolled out, except for clients of Better Start and HCWA, who have different transitioning arrangements, and Australian Disability Enterprises.

The arrangements for HCWA and Better Start Panel providers differ from other block-funded arrangements, as panel providers can continue to service HCWA and Better Start clients until the child’s funding runs out, the child turns seven, or the child has an approved NDIS plan in place, whichever occurs first. However, you should note that the HCWA and Better Start programs are closing and clients are expected to request access to the NDIS as soon as possible.

An Australian Disability Enterprise may also be approved to receive case-based funding for an NDIS participant under transitional arrangements that were announced on 31 January 2019. These arrangements will be available on application and approval until 30 June 2020.

What will happen if there are still clients left to transition by 30 June 2020?

It is expected that all clients of Commonwealth programs will transition by 30 June 2020. The Department will continue to work closely with providers to ensure all eligible clients have transitioned to the NDIS.

Importantly, the NDIS has improved participant pathways for those testing their eligibility, making the process easier through face-to-face planning meetings, easy to understand information and improved systems.

For mental health clients, new clients will be able to access the National Psychosocial Supports Measure.

What will happen to people ineligible for the NDIS who were in a Commonwealth program?

For existing Commonwealth clients who are ineligible for the NDIS, the Government has committed to providing Continuity of Support.

Continuity of Support will assist existing clients who are ineligible for the NDIS to achieve similar outcomes to those they were aiming to achieve prior to the introduction of the NDIS, even if the arrangements for doing that change over time.

In most cases, Continuity of Support will be delivered through these extension arrangements until 30 June 2020, when longer-term arrangements are established.

For the three carer programs, CoS will be built into extension arrangements until 30 November 2019 to ensure a sensible tapering down of services prior to transitioning to the Integrated Carer Support Service scheduled to commence in September 2019.

The Department is currently finalising CoS arrangements for the remaining programs, which will commence from 1 July 2020.

Are clients able to stay with their current provider with the extension?

For most programs, clients will see no change, noting some different arrangements will be in place for specific programs.

For remaining clients from the three mental health programs – PHaMs, PIR and D2DL – where possible, the PHNs will subcontract existing providers to continue supporting people with psychosocial disability whom they have already built rapport.

Under the carer transitioning programs, clients are able to remain with their providers until the end of November 2019. Once the new funding arrangements are in place for the Integrated Carer Support Service Regional Delivery Partners (RDPs), the RDPs will commission and coordinate services based on local needs, taking into account what services and supports are already available, in consultation with providers, consumers and carers.

The Work Based Personal Assistance program is delivered through Disability Employment Services providers, who have active grants until June 2023.

Will Commonwealth mental health services be similar under the PHNs?

PHNs will engage providers to deliver services that are best suited to the needs of Commonwealth mental health clients.

If there is a change in provider under the PHN arrangements, clients will continue to be supported to achieve similar outcomes under the new provider.

Early Intervention Program Questions

Do the extensions mean that I can register for HCWA and Better Start in regions where registrations have already closed?

No. New registrations for HCWA and Better Start will only be accepted in regions where the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) Early Childhood Partners are yet to establish. Generally, registrations close one month after an Early Childhood Partner has been established in a region.

What do the extensions mean for existing HCWA and Better Start clients?

All HCWA and Better Start clients will remain clients until their child’s funding has run out, the child turns seven, or the child has an approved NDIS plan is in place, whichever occurs first.

Clients are encouraged to engage as soon as possible with the NDIA in areas where the NDIS has rolled out and an Early Childhood Partner is in place. Families who delay their child’s transition to the NDIS could experience gaps in services for their child.

Does the extension mean that HCWA and Better Start service providers can delay becoming NDIS service providers?

HCWA and Better Start service providers choose whether to become NDIS service providers.

If you wish to become an NDIS service provider, you should apply to do so as soon as possible. If you do not become an NDIS service provider, you will not be able to deliver services to NDIS clients who have their individual support plans managed by the NDIA.

You can still, however, continue to deliver services to HCWA and/or Better Start clients and provide services to NDIS clients who choose to self-manage their support plan and choose to employ your services.

What is happening to HCWA and Better Start education and support services?

HCWA and Better Start programs include individualised funding for early intervention services as well as a number of education and support services, such as Autism Advisers, Registration and Information services, Early Intervention Indigenous Liaison Officers, support for Early Days Workshops, PlayConnect Playgroups, Playgroup Community Events and the Raising Children Network website.

Grants for these education and support services will be extended to 30 June 2020.

What is the future of HCWA and Better Start education and support services?

The Department will work with providers and the NDIA on how to better integrate these activities into the NDIA’s Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Gateway and the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) investment strategy.

How do I find more information about the transitioning Commonwealth programs?

More information about the Commonwealth programs is available.

Should providers have any additional questions about the extensions, they should contact their Funding Arrangement Manager in the first instance.

For all other questions about the extensions, please email NDISTransition@dss.gov.au.

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