Opinion: Fostering trust and transparency in the NDIS

Scott Willis is the National President of the Australian Physiotherapy Association who represent over 31,000 physiotherapist members.

In this guest post, Scott Willis, the National President of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, responds to recent comments by NDIS Minister Bill Shorten MP about ‘price gouging’ by physiotherapy providers.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been making headlines recently, and while it’s crucial to address concerns about unscrupulous operators, we must also be fair and accurate in our assessments. Unfortunately, NDIS Minister Bill Shorten MP’s recent remarks about ‘price gouging’ by physiotherapy providers miss the mark and risk damaging the reputation of dedicated professionals and the vital relationships they’ve forged with their NDIS participants.

The Australian Physiotherapy Association stands firmly behind the government’s efforts to combat overcharging and ensure fair pricing within the NDIS. We welcome the establishment of a task force and stronger governance to weed out any providers engaging in unethical practices. However, it’s essential to correct the misinformation being spread about physiotherapists.

Physiotherapy represents less than one per cent of all payments within the NDIS and is not responsible for the scheme’s significant costs.

Scott Willis, the National President of the Australian Physiotherapy Association

Any suggestion that billions can be saved by targeting physiotherapy is unfounded. We urge the Minister to provide evidence of price gouging to the APA for investigation.

Physiotherapists adhere to evidence-based practices and deliver essential care tailored to the complex needs of NDIS participants. Any differences in pricing reflect the specialised nature of this care, not unethical behaviour.

We invite Mr Shorten to meet with us to clarify any misconceptions and learn more about the quality of care provided by physiotherapists.

Data from the NDIA Annual Pricing Report 2022-2023 reveals that physiotherapists can charge their private patients up to $322 per hour, significantly exceeding the NDIS price cap of $193.30. This price difference is a testament to the unique services provided to NDIS participants.

While some providers may engage in questionable practices, connecting an entire profession to the price-gouging conversation is misleading. Our focus should be on improving participant outcomes,
ensuring that individuals have the freedom to choose their preferred providers, including physiotherapists.

Mr Shorten himself witnessed the positive impact of evidence-led physiotherapy on the lives of children with disabilities during a visit to a foundation earlier this year. He described it as a best practice example of the NDIS working as intended. We invite him to visit a physiotherapy practice to witness firsthand the quality support our professionals offer.

Fostering trust and transparency in the NDIS is of paramount importance. Let’s preserve the trust and relationships between providers and participants by avoiding language that unfairly tarnishes the reputation of physiotherapy. Together, we can ensure that the NDIS continues to serve those it was designed for, delivering quality care and support.


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