The YPIRAC initiative, rolled out in March this year, aims to support younger people under the age of 65 who are in aged care settings to move into more appropriate accommodation.
Vicki Rundle PSM, Acting CEO of the NDIA, provided evidence to the Commissioner this morning outlining the lack of future targets and the current scope of the YPIRAC initiative.
Counsel Assisting, Richard Knowles, pointed out that a large portion of people with disability or terminal illnesses would not be included in the action plan.
He queried that the YPIRAC initiative is fundamentally “isn't complete” as an action plan since people who are not eligible for the NDIS would not be captured in the action plan.
While Ms Rundle disagreed with his statement that the action plan "isn't complete”, she did agree that the initiative would only be available for people on the NDIS, or people who are eligible for the Scheme or those expecting approval.
Mr Knowles asked why a person under the age of 65 who is placed in aged care accommodation isn’t automatically flagged to qualify for specialist disability accommodation (SDA), which Ms Rundle acknowledged was a good question and would need to be considered alongside Government.
It was highlighted by Ms Rundle that there are currently 13,000 people receiving SDA support in the action plan, when the Commissioner expected there to be 28,000 people involved with the initiative.
Ms Rundle adds that the Scheme is currently collecting data before setting any targets or parameters for the future.
Infrastructure not up to scratch for disability sector
Mr Knowles also raised concerns around the fact that the NDIA was aware in 2011 that there would be a shortfall in available SDA options for around 12,000 people.
He questioned why nothing was done earlier to prevent this occurrence by the NDIA and suggested it showed a lack of inaction from the Government.
Ms Rundle agreed that in hindsight, the action plan could have been executed better and there is still a lot of work to be done in increasing available SDAs.
“We’ve said that everybody under 65 by 2025 will, if they choose to leave, will be able to leave a residential aged care setting,” says Ms Rundle.
"If you look at the market and the trends in the market, we are reasonably confident that the market, and particularly with some of the additional incentives we’ve provided recently,
particular with pricing, we are confident that the market will grow, but it is true to say that I can’t confidently sit here now and say that we will absolutely without doubt meet that goal."
"By the fact that there are not sufficient properties for people to live in alternatively, then the market is failing at the moment. If you ask me is there market failure more broadly in terms of where the scheme is at and what you’d expect to see with market development in a scheme like this, the scheme – the market is actually responding to all of the initiatives and is growing.
"The market is growing considerably, not just the existing providers coming into the market, but new and innovative markets."
Commissioner Lynelle Briggs AO inquired whether large group homes could be used as a stepping stone for people coming from hospital, to avoid younger people being admitted to aged care while SDAs are being developed.
Ms Rundle says it has been a consideration of the NDIA while they wait for a long-term solution.
Massive shortfall in disability workforce
Another issue that was pointed out by Counsel is the lack of funding in the disability sector, with a 70,000 workforce shortfall.
Ms Rundle says, “The workforce shortages have been acknowledged for some time and quite a lot of work has actually gone on over time, and Department of Social Services is the policy lead for this.
"But, broadly, I could say that there’d been a range of initiatives that the government have worked on to try to build the disability workforce more broadly.
"I acknowledge that that workforce supply is very key, alongside of dwelling construction for this particular group. So it’s both a general issue for NDIS and it’s also an issue, therefore, for this particular group (younger people with disability)."
Commissioner Briggs also asked about why so many younger people with disability are receiving Home Care Packages instead of through the NDIS.
It was highlighted that 2,500 younger people with disability are receiving Home Care Packages, plus another 2,000 younger people with disability approved to get those services.
Ms Rundle admitted she wasn’t exactly sure why younger people with disability were getting access to aged care services, however, the NDIS plan does take into account the other supports of recipients so services aren’t doubled up.
The next hearing will take place on Friday, on 13 September in Melbourne, Victoria, at 10am.