The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has today released guidance to empower people with disability to use their consumer rights when buying goods and services under the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The roll out of the NDIS, which commenced on 1 July, is one of the biggest policy reforms in generations that will affect over 460,000 Australians with disability and introduces a fundamental change to the market for goods and services in the disability sector.
“The NDIS provides many consumers with disability the opportunity to exercise choice and the power to make purchasing decisions for the first time in relation to their disability needs,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
The NDIS is expected to create a contestable market worth $16 billion a year. While there are a range of government and regulatory organisations involved in the regulation of the disability sector, the ACCC is warning new and existing businesses that they must comply with their obligations under the Competition and Consumer Act (2010), which includes the Australian Consumer Law.
“During the NDIS roll out we expect to see a range of new entrants in the market which is good for competition but we are concerned about the potential for unscrupulous traders to take advantage of vulnerable consumers,” Ms Rickard said.
“With such a big change in this sector it is important for people with disability to understand their rights and for businesses to treat consumers fairly and in accordance with the law.”
To prepare consumers and businesses, the ACCC and ACL regulators have released a range of resources including videos, fact sheets, industry guidance and an easy English consumer guide which outline the rights and obligations of consumers and businesses in the disability sector.
“These materials give consumers with disability useful information about their rights under the Australian Consumer Law and are specifically designed to help consumers when buying goods and services under the NDIS,” Ms Rickard said.
The resources have been developed with the support of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and in consultation with disability support organisations, disability advocates and disability complaint bodies.
These resources are available at no cost from www.accc.gov.au/disabilityresources or in hard copy from local state and territory consumer protection agencies.
The release of these resources coincides with the International Day of People with Disability on 3 December which aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disability.
On 1 July 2016, the Australia wide roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) commenced. This roll-out will take place gradually over the next three years and once complete, more than 460,000 Australians will be eligible to receive funding under the NDIS.
The NDIS is bringing about a fundamental change in the way the needs of consumers with disability are met. Under the NDIS, participants will receive the funding they need to purchase necessary goods or services. They will then be free to choose who they purchase those goods or services from. This is a significant change from the previous model of bulk purchasing by the state.