Carers’ access to planned respite under the NDIS has been a major issue for carers from the beginning of the reform – especially because such a large amount of respite funding is being removed from the suite of carer programs funded by the Department of Social Services to help pay for the NDIS.

We know that carers or the people they care for are not routinely being advised that paid respite can be a feature of participants’ packages and we know that providers of respite services are struggling to keep providing them.

As noted by National Disability Services (NDS) in its annual survey of disability service providers: “Respite continues to be the service most organisations are planning to reduce or close.”  In the 2016-17 financial year, respite provision fell by 7 per cent and 6 percent of providers have said they will stop providing respite services in 2017-18, while 16 per cent said they will reduce the respite services they do provide.  The major problem seems to be the price for short-term accommodation paid for by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

However, there is hope that things may improve.  The Productivity Commission Inquiry into NDIS Costs has acknowledged that: “Without respite services, the sustainability and success of the scheme are imperilled.”  The Commission also recommended that:

  • It should be made clear to participants and NDIS planners that respite care can and, where appropriate, should be included in the individualised support packages of those they care for.
  • It also needs to be made clear that services such as short-term accommodation for the person with a disability and additional in-home care are available for respite purposes.

Fortunately the short-term accommodation prices set by the NDIS have recently been reviewed to bring them considerably more in line with the actual cost of providing the service.

We continue to keep a very close eye on the situation and will be using our engagement with NDIA, both in our own right and as a member of the National Disability and Carer Alliance (NDCA), to hold them to account on this issue.