Royal Commission misses the mark on NDIS pricing review

29 September 2023

The final report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has missed an important opportunity to recommend a review of NDIS pricing arrangements, according to Australia’s peak body for exercise and sports science professionals.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) today welcomed the historic report as a vital step towards improving the lives of 4.4 million people in Australia with disabilities.

It praised the report’s emphasis on the importance of equitable access to health services for people with a disability, which is a fundamental right for all Australians.

However, ESSA said the report would not change the current situation in which under-qualified carers rather than trained allied health professionals are providing exercise therapies to NDIS participants.

“What was missing in the recommendations is a review to the NDIS pricing arrangements,” said ESSA CEO Anita Hobson-Powell.

“The pricing determination for exercise physiology remains considerably below the service operational costs and the limits set for equivalent allied health professions,” she said. “This poses a significant financial challenge for exercise physiologists committed to providing quality care to NDIS participants.

“Unfortunately, we have seen administrators cut access to exercise physiology services in lieu of home modification and instead, carers are providing exercise therapies instead of qualified allied health personnel.

“These cuts are leaving participants without a vital clinical service they need to maintain their health and independence, which is a key theme of the report’s recommendations.

“ESSA supports the report’s encouragement for providers to be registered, however, the current cost and administrative burden make this difficult and must be urgently addressed. We also acknowledge the recommendation to improve the workforce capability to include all forms of cognitive ability.

“ESSA, through our Standards and Accreditations Councils, will look to review our standards and university student placement requirements to improve university training and will ensure our professional development framework for graduates provides opportunities for them to strengthen their competences in working with cognitive disabilities.”