Assisting people with disabilities with their mobility needs.

Attention local area coordinators (LAC), plan managers, participants of the NDIS, and all concerned…

It has come to our repeated attention through feedback from local area coordinators, plan managers, and participants of the NDIS that there is a belief that specialise driving instruction is no longer covered by the NDIS. It has been portrayed to us that this is stemming from the training provided to local area coordinators. This blog is to say that the removal of specialised driving instruction from the price guide is not true according to the information we have received directly from NDIS. 

We have contacted NDIS on multiple occasions and had consistent feedback that there has been no change to the approval process or funding of specialised driving instruction in recent times.

Last financial year there was a change from specialised driving instruction being an itemised item. It is now a quotable service that needs to be approved. We have worked with this change since July 2018 and have consistently quoted and requested approval for specialised driving instruction for our clients with disabilities. Yes, it is not an itemised item and the item cannot be found with a set fee in the price guide/fee schedule, however, it is still an item that can be approved. It is our understanding that the change last financial year is because prices for specialised driving instruction vary significantly between states and rural vs city areas.

The NDIS has assured us that specialise driving instruction is still an appropriate item for approval if it is deemed reasonable, however, it is a quotable item that needs to be approved prior to implementation. 

Specialised Driving Instructor – Line item 670 on price guide.

Driving lessons required due to the impact of the participant’s disability. This item should be in response to a driver trained specialist Occupational Therapy Assessment.

Quote required item.

NDIS report there is no cap on these services, hence recommendations from OT driver report should be followed if deemed reasonable

For reference, click this link to read the full document

NDIS has also informed us on multiple occasions that there is no plan to remove specialised driving instruction from the 2019 and 2020 new financial year.

It is not true that specialised driving instruction cannot be approved.

In addition to those that have had hours approved, we have also noted that the number of hours being approved has also significantly dropped in recent times. We agree the driver instructor lessons are, for someone without a disability, something that is a cost that has to be bared by all people wanting to learn how to drive. It is, however, our concern that not all driving instructors have the same skills or experience to be able to assist clients with disabilities. Furthermore, it is frequently not reasonable to expect parents to teach clients with disabilities how to drive a vehicle when specialised needs are to be considered. Many parents do not feel safe and we consistently receive referrals for clients who have struggled with a standard driving instructor and/or with parents and have been unsuccessful in gaining their licence. However, with the correct approach and with an approach that’s customised to the client’s needs, the outcomes for participants with disabilities has been significantly favourable, thanks to the NDIS and the funding of specialised driving instruction.

Not all driving instructors have the skill set that is required to use a spinner knob or left foot accelerator or hand controls as examples, and most driving instructors do not have the set up in their vehicle to be able to teach somebody with such controls. Furthermore, as with driving controls, not all driving instructors have a teaching method that suits clients with autism or an intellectual disability or a cognitive concern of another similar diagnosis. Specialised driving instructors (especially those employed by Williams OT) have worked with clients with disabilities in the past, have ongoing professional development to further develop their skills and work side by side with the occupational therapist to achieve the best outcomes for the participant. They have experience and skills that other driving instructors do not.

We would like to request that all local area coordinators, those training local area coordinators, plan managers, and the NDIS, take time to review this email and strongly consider the recommendations made by highly qualified driver trained occupational therapists when considering the funding for NDIS participants and providing recommendations.

We welcome all comments and feedback in relation to the above correspondence and we are happy to discuss issues in more detail as required.

It’s part of the Williams Occupational Therapy mission to do our utmost for clients with a disability who wish to experience the freedom of driving. We write this with this underlying value.

Thank you for taking the time to read this correspondence and we ask that you share it with your team.