NFP & Property Update: NDIS Seminar, ‘National Centre for Excellence’ Final Report, 2014 NFP Legal Almanac

Mark FowlerTN Rachel
Mark Fowler & Rachel Sloper (4 May 2015)

In this Update:

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)


The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is radically reshaping how Australia supports people with disabilities. It is currently in test phase around Australia, with full national roll-out due to commence in July 2016. There is still no public detail available on how the transition will work, but the COAG Disability Reform Council has said that this will be published by the end of August 2015.

The NDIS will have far-reaching impacts on lives of individual participants and their families as well as the operations of the not-for-profits supporting them.

NDIS Seminar for Not-for-profits

We invite you to attend a Neumann & Turnour Lawyers legal information seminar “Planning for the NDIS: contracting, collaborating and thriving” to be held on Wednesday, 27 May 2015. To RSVP reply to this email or call Jeanne or Bree on (07) 3837 3600 by Monday 25 May 2015. Places are limited.

In the seminar Mark Fowler and Rachel Sloper from our not-for-profit team will discuss some legal issues and legal strategies for not-for-profits planning to offer services to NDIS participants from 2016 onwards. In particular, we will talk about:

  • Contracting with NDIS participants and their families, rather than the government: issues of consumer law and consumer protection
  • Maintaining or increasing access to not-for-profit tax concessions as your business model adapts
  • Joint ventures and other collaborative arrangements for working with other organisations (both not-for-profit and for-profit)
  • Opportunities to work with NDIS participants in the affordable housing space

Click here for full details.

Housing and the NDIS

The exact extent to which housing and housing related costs can be part of the ‘supports’ in an NDIS participant’s funded plan is still uncertain. One of the criteria for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) in deciding whether a participant should receive a particular support paid for by the NDIS is whether that support (such as housing) could be better provided through an existing mainstream service (such as the public housing system).

The ‘cost of capital’ involved in sourcing or building specialist accommodation for people with complex needs was included in the Productivity Commission’s costs estimates for providing supports to NDIS participants. These ‘cost of capital’ funds will be worth up to $700 million annually from 2018.

The NDIA has said that it will use this money to stimulate the building of more housing stock suitable for people with disabilities, which is currently in chronic undersupply. The funds will not be used as part of individual support packages per se. It is not yet clear what the details of this plan will involve.

On 24 April 2015, the COAG Disability Reform Council committed to helping the NDIA start pilots for new accommodation models in the existing NDIS trial sites. You can read the Council’s Communique here.

Employment and the NDIS

Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield has expressed federal government dissatisfaction with the current Disability Employment Service (DES) model for delivering support to people with disabilities to enter and remain in employment. He has flagged that consultation will be undertaken.

On 27 April 2015 he announced a new Taskforce within the Department of Social Services to develop a new model which is more consumer-focused and business-focused, to begin in 2018. There will be a 6 month consultation period but no details are available as yet about when this will begin or how submissions can be made. Minister Fifield’s speech can be found here.

As part of the same agenda, the Australian Human Rights Commission has begun a National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination against Older Australians and Australians with Disability. It will make recommendations by July 2016 about what actions should be taken to address discrimination. Consultation has not yet begun but you can register your interest here.

Advocacy and the NDIS

The COAG Disability Reform Council confirmed on 24 April 2015 that systemic advocacy and review and representation will not be paid for from NDIS funds. Advocacy will remain under the National Disability Advocacy Framework, with a review of policy for the Framework in light of the NDIS to take place from now until December 2015.

Got questions about the NDIS?

If you or your organisation are interested in talking to a lawyer about managing the transition to the NDIS, call our office on (07) 3837 3600 and ask for Rachel Sloper.

Final Report for the ‘National Centre for Excellence’ consultation released

The final report of the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) National Centre for Excellence Consultation Project was publicly released on 29 April 2015, six months after completion in October 2014. The report, and its summary, are available here alongside a media release calling for a $100m endowment to ensure the “sustainability and independence of the NCE network.”

Key points raised by the report include a continuing opposition by consultation participants to the abolition of the ACNC, and a strong interest in investing in capacity building and collaboration rather than a ‘new’ initiative which may duplicate existing efforts and fail to have lasting impact.

The report also notes ‘consultation fatigue’ and frustration in the sector at ‘what they perceive as constant change and what they perceive as the lack of listening to the sector’s views about what is needed and wanted’ (page 4).

Resourcing an NCE would be a challenge, as the report finds that there is no appetite for a member-funded or fee-for-service model, and scepticism about whether private philanthropists would be prepared to invest. Government funding, either through a seed capital ‘endowment’ model or on an ongoing basis, would realistically need to be a key part of funding an NCE. CSI suggests that funds currently used across multiple departments and agencies to build sector capacity could be redirected and aggregated to assist in this process. There would be little scope to fund the NCE out of ACNC repeal ‘savings’, as these funds would largely be channelled back to the ATO for ongoing tax concessions work (page 37).

Unsurprisingly, given current funding and budget trends, CSI also says that resourcing the NCE from government sources might be ‘an optimistic recommendation’.
Readers of the report should keep in mind that the survey samples which the report draws on were relatively small, at around 100 – 250 responses (see page 12).

The Australian Nonprofit Sector Legal Almanac 2014

QUT’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies has released the latest edition of its annual Australian Nonprofit Sector Legal Almanac. The 2014 edition can be downloaded free of charge here. Mark Fowler’s contribution in relation to “Charitable Housing – Update and Future Trends” can be found at pages 222-223 of the Almanac (pdf: 224-225).

In addition to other matters, the comments on charitable housing address the ACNC Interpretation Statement on the Provision of Housing by Charities and Portents of Change at the Federal level. Future movements including the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH), and the anticipated report of the Senate Inquiry into Affordable Housing are also discussed.

DISCLAIMER: This update contains general information only. The information is not all inclusive and should not be considered to be legal advice. You should always obtain legal advice for your specific circumstances before relying on general information.