Unregistered NDIS Providers: To Register or Not to Register?

Unregistered NDIS Providers: A man with downs syndrome and a support worker smile at the camera with arms around each other

Bill Shorten MP has recently hinted at concern over the number of unregistered NDIS Providers. What could this mean for the future of the NDIS?

As a business working hard to provide best practice guidance for NDIS Service Providers, it is disheartening and very disappointing to learn statistics show there are 35 fraudulent NDIS matters under investigation. 14 cases are currently before the courts with a total alleged fraud value of $13.4 million. In the last financial year alone, the NDIA cancelled more than 38,700 incorrect or non-compliant payments totalling almost $45 million.

In Australia today, approximately 518,000 people living with disability have access to the NDIS, with a quarter of a million people employed in the disability sector.

The NDIS is the largest social reform in Australia since Medicare was introduced on 1 February 1984.

The scheme began its national rollout on 1 July 2016 after a three year transitional period, with the primary objective to provide support to people living with disability, their families and carers. The NDIS is jointly governed and funded by the Australian, State and Territory Governments, and is overseen by the NDIA, to ensure the scheme’s objectives are realised and implemented and, at the same time, deliver a financially sustainable NDIS, not to mention protect the NDIS from fraud and non-compliance resulting in the misuse of funds.

The NDIS was established to enable participants to have real choice, where the service offerings must reflect the diversity of people with disability, who may have specific needs, priorities and perspectives based on their personal circumstance. This includes the type and level of support required, education, gender, age, sexuality and ethnic or cultural background.

Minister for The National Disability Insurance Scheme, Bill Shorten MP, has a strong connection to the Scheme, having been part of establishing the Scheme under the Gillard Government, and holding the role of Shadow Minister for the NDIS for the past 3 years. He was also an early advocate of the NDIS in his role as Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services.

In a recent interview, Mr Shorten said, ‘The Scheme is no longer the original dream. Any type of deceptive or fraudulent behaviour that targets the safety net to support our fellow Australians with permanent and significant disability is shameless and despicable’.

He continued, ‘These people pretend to support NDIS participants, but instead try to rip them off by blatantly overcharging and skimming extra money from their plans’.

Concern over the Number of Unregistered NDIS Providers

He has also hinted at changes to accreditation and registration requirements for service providers as well as concern over the number of unregistered NDIS providers. Presently 90% of providers are now unregistered and unregulated. He stated, ‘Now, one of the reasons why unregistered providers are able to do NDIS is they don’t want the red tape of registration. And to some extent, that’s fair enough. But unregistered providers are a lot harder to scrutinise. So I’ve asked the agency to tell me: Why do we have such a large proportion of unregistered providers providing services to people with disabilities? I want to know about the quality of what they do. I want to know about their bona fides’. ‘I think if you are a worker working with a person with a disability and you’re delivering personal care services, you have to be registered and have some minimum qualification’.

Mr Shorten said the ‘shocking’ scale of fraud strengthened calls for a multi-agency criminal taskforce and he hoped to see it up and running within weeks. A ten year review of the Scheme due mid next year will now be brought forward and will involve people with disability across all forums.

There will always be debate over whether a provider should be registered or unregistered, particularly with the additional costs registration brings with an already tight budget. However, with the proposed changes soon to become a reality, it might be worth considering whether continuing as an unregistered NDIS provider is going to be sustainable or even possible in the long term.

Considering Registering as a NDIS Provider?

Provider Institute offers hassle-free registration options for those looking to get registered. If you’re unsure which registration category you fall under, use our free VeriCert Tool to find out!

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