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Receiving direct payments

If you choose to receive your funding as direct payments, Disability Services will deposit your disability funding directly into your bank account, usually 4 times each year.  This bank account can only be used for these payments.

To receive direct payments, you need to be receiving individual, ongoing Disability Services funding, not be subject to the use of a restrictive practice and not be in a crisis situation. You must be able to undertake the planning, financial, legal and administrative requirements involved in direct payments. You can have someone help you; this person is called a relevant person.

Before choosing direct payments you need to consider if it is right for you. You have all the responsibility of managing, purchasing and administering your supports (e.g. paying the Goods and Services Tax).

If you are interested in receiving direct payments you should talk to your local Disability Services office to see if this might be available to you.

Choosing a relevant person

You can choose to have someone else receive the funding on your behalf by nominating a relevant person. A relevant person could be a guardian, parent, sister, brother or close friend.

The relevant person signs the funding agreement and takes on the responsibility for managing the funding on your behalf. They formally assist with the activities involved in direct payments, such as:

  • budgeting
  • recordkeeping
  • paying for purchases
  • reporting.

The relevant person continues to involve you in all decisions. In some situations you may have more than one relevant person and they share the role.

Receiving direct payments—responsibilities

Your role

You or your relevant person will need to:

  • know what you have been assessed for by Disability Services
  • plan for the life that you would like to lead and identify your priorities and goals
  • make decisions about your services and supports
  • fill in and sign documents (e.g. agreements and budget statement)
  • complete administrative tasks (e.g. set up a bank account, keep receipts, manage invoices) in the set up and ongoing management of direct payments
  • complete quarterly reports (e.g. record of hours and cost of services purchased)
  • complete yearly reports (including any changes made to the type of services that have been purchased during the year and their costs)
  • meet legal employment requirements if you choose to employ your own workers, including conditions in industrial awards and health and safety requirements.

The time it takes each week to manage direct payments will vary depending on the number of supports and services you are buying.

Disability Services staff roles

Regional Disability Services staff have a key role in helping you get started with direct payments as well as providing some support with the ongoing management. However, it is expected that this support will reduce as you become familiar with your role and responsibilities.

Disability Service staff will:

  • support you to consider the appropriateness of direct payments in relation to your individual circumstances
  • answer your questions about direct payments and provide resources to you if you would like more information
  • assist you and/or your relevant person in getting started—through conversations, supporting planning and completing paperwork
  • endorse some of the decisions made by you or your relevant person (e.g. who is to be the relevant person and the supports and services that you intend to buy)
  • undertake support, check in on how you are going and undertake reviews as needed.

Activities involved for direct payments

When you self-direct your supports and services through Your Life Your Choice direct payments, there are certain activities involved, including.

  • planning—personal planning about your goals and priorities as well as specific planning about what supports you will buy
  • budgeting—managing how and when your disability funding will be spent
  • buying supports and services—deciding where or who you buy your supports from
  • managing expenditure—keeping records of what you have bought with your funding
  • ensuring you receive quality services
  • reporting—what you have purchased with disability funding.

Planning

Planning is important when you self-direct your supports. You can plan for your day-to-day supports and you can also do personal planning, about your goals and priorities.

Personal planning

Personal planning means thinking about how your support today might help you live a life you want, where you have new experiences, learn new skills, meet new people, have a relationship, connect with family, friends and your community.

You can engage someone to help you with planning if you need to. A number of organisations offer support with planning.

A planning resource is available to assist people with disability, their families and carers to self-direct through Your Life Your Choice.

Budgeting

Budgeting is important so you know how you will spend your funding, on what it will be spent and when you will spend it. Budgeting helps you to plan and ensure your funding will help meet your needs.

Moneysmart and the Office of Fair Trading provide budget planning tools.

Buying supports and services

You can purchase services that are within the ‘service categories’ that you have been assessed for. The service categories are:

  • accommodation support
  • community support
  • community access
  • respite
  • advocacy, information and alternative forms of communication
  • other support.

If your needs change at any time, you can contact your local Disability Services office for a review.

Disability Services funding cannot be used for:

  • supports and services funded by other local, state and commonwealth government programs
  • day-to-day living expenses (i.e. electricity, gas, telephone, internet, general household fittings, furniture and whitegoods not used by the person with a disability in meeting their disability support needs, food, groceries, rent or the purchase, running or maintenance costs of vehicles)
  • illegal activities, gambling or activities that are harmful to your health (i.e. cigarettes).

Disability Services funding cannot be used as additional income. 

The following questions will assist you to decide if you should be buying a certain support or service with your funding:

  • Is the support or service you intend to buy related to your Disability Services assessed needs (service category)?
  • Does it relate to your goals and priorities?
  • Is it of direct benefit to you?
  • Is it required as a result of your disability?

You will need to consider these questions for each purchase. All these questions, not just one, should be answered with a “yes”.

Remember you should not use your funding to pay for something:

  • another person is expected to pay for themselves
  • another government department or community service should be providing.

Do I have to become an employer?

Self-directing your support does not mean you need to employ your own workers. You can buy your supports from disability or community services where they will be the employer and responsible for meeting all the employer obligations. Your Disability Services staff can help you work out how you want to manage employment.

Some people do want to be responsible for employing their own workers. This is entirely up to you.

The following government agencies provide information about employing workers:

Taxation advice 

The department does not provide business or legal advice. If your organisation or someone you are working with needs taxation advice about GST or PAYG (Pay as you go), we recommend:

  • consulting a solicitor, accountant or the Australian Taxation Office for help
  • reading information on websites that might be relevant. For example:
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) website and PEARL Home provide information on employing a support worker
  • Community Door provides information about business development
  • business.gov.au provides information on starting a business
  • ato.gov.au provides information on GST and disability services.

The department accepts no responsibility in relation to these matters. 

Goods and services tax (GST)

You should consider which purchases will be affected by GST and what this means for your funding.

Some disability supports are GST free and some are not. When getting quotes for your supports and services, make sure you ask if GST applies and if it is included in the cost.

When a person buys their own supports or services, the person with disability pays the GST where applicable and they cannot claim it back from the Australian Tax Office.

Income and pension rulings

The Australian Taxation Office has ruled (Class Ruling CR2013/45) that any payments under Your Life Your Choice self-directed support are not considered assessable or taxable income. The ruling applies from 1 January 2013.

Any interest earned on those funds in a person’s bank account is also not considered to be taxable income.

The former Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has ruled (F2013L00911) that Your Life Your Choice is an approved personal care support scheme under section 35A of the Social Security Act 1991 and that any payments under Your Life Your Choice self-directed support are not considered income when determining eligibility for social security payments or the amount of those payments.

Managing expenditure

You need to keep records of what you have purchased for up to 7 years and we recommend you keep a summary document, like a spread sheet, to track your expenses, how much you have spent and how much you have left. Checking your expenditure against your budget is a good idea also.

To get organised and keep records, information is available at the Pearl—Managing Funding, Payments, and Reporting

Receiving quality services

It is important that you are satisfied with the services you receive.

Approved Disability Services providers are required to meet the Human Services Quality Standards.

Other providers, who do not receive funding from Disability Services, may be regulated under laws that apply to all businesses, such as Australian Consumer Law, or by laws governing other industries such as health.

Receiving safe services

You and your family have the right to be safe and free from abuse and neglect when receiving supports and services.

You will need to consider any specific safety needs you have with your Disability Services regional contact person when buying your supports and services. For example, you may need to consider:

  • the level of skills, training and experience your staff will need 
  • any personal plans you need (e.g. water safety, road safety, safety in the home, personal safety, taking your medication, help with eating, swallowing risks, safe lifting and transferring.)
  • any behaviour support needs (e.g. positive behaviour support plan). 

The direct payments handbook and workbook sets out further requirements in relation to safeguards.

Restrictive Practices

If you are a person with an intellectual or cognitive disability and you are subject to a restrictive practice you cannot self-direct through Your Life Your Choice direct payments.

If you want to self-direct your supports and services through Your Life Your Choice, you must:

  • use a host provider
  • purchase from a relevant service provider regulated under Part 6 of the Disability Services Act 2006 for the provision of the particular support where the restrictive practice is used.   

This applies to the use of restrictive practices in the areas of containment, seclusion, chemical, mechanical and physical restraint and restricting access to objects.

Talk to your local Disability Services office if you think there may be a restrictive practice or if you are unsure.

Find out more about restrictive practices.  

Criminal history checks

Criminal history checks are an important safeguard for people with disability accessing disability services. Criminal history checks are also undertaken to ensure a person’s funding is appropriately used to meet their needs. Your Life Your Choice requires that a suitable criminal history check must be undertaken if:

  • you choose to manage your own direct payments funding
  • you choose to have a relevant person, managing the direct payments on your behalf
  • any workers employed or contracted to provide disability services  by you or your relevant person.

Person with disability or a relevant person receiving direct payments funding

For a person with disability or a relevant person receiving direct payments funding, a suitable criminal history check is:

A National Police Certificate that:

  • is prepared and issued by State Police or Territory Police, and
  • has been obtained within the last 12 months
  • is renewed within the last 3 years.

Or, one of the following disability related cards or notices, previously issued as part of working with people with disability:

  • a current Yellow Card issued under the Disability Services Act 2006 by the department to a person who has an agreement (written or unwritten) with a funded non-government service provider or
  • a current Yellow Card Exemption Notice issued under the Disability Services Act 2006 by the department to a person who is a blue card holder and has an agreement (written or unwritten) with a funded non-government service provider to work at a place where disability services are provided to adults.

Employing or contracting your own workers

If you choose to employ or contract your own workers for your disability services you must ensure they have a suitable criminal history check The type of check will depend on who the worker will be working with.

The following are suitable checks when you employ your own workers, depending on your situation:

For workers working only with adults with disability:

A National Police Certificate that:

  • is prepared and issued by State Police or Territory Police
  • has been obtained within the last 12 months
  • is renewed within the last 3 years.

Or, 1 of the following disability related cards or notices, previously issued as part of working with people with disability:

  • a current Yellow Card issued under the Disability Services Act 2006 by the department to a person who has an agreement (written or unwritten) with a funded non-government service provider or
  • a current Yellow Card Exemption Notice issued under the Disability Services Act 2006 by the department to a person who is a blue card holder and has an agreement (written or unwritten) with a funded non-government service provider to work at a place where disability services are provided to adults.

For workers working only with children with disability:

  • a Blue Card

For workers working with both adults and children with disability:

  • a National Police Certificate and a Blue Card

Or

  • a Blue Card and one of the following disability related cards or notices, previously issued as part of working with people with disability:
  • a current Yellow Card issued under the Disability Services Act 2006 by the department to a person who has an agreement (written or unwritten) with a funded non-government service provider, or
  • a current Yellow Card Exemption Notice issued under the Disability Services Act 2006 by the department to a person who is a blue card holder and has an agreement (written or unwritten) with a funded non-government service provider to work at a place where disability services are provided to adults.

You can read more detailed information about criminal history checking at:

Reporting

When you receive direct payments, you need to report to the department on a quarterly basis (4 times per year).  There are 2 reports that you need to complete each quarter, these include:

  • Disability Services National Minimum Data Set (DS NMDS)
  • Certification of Purchases—a legal document in which you confirm that you have used the funding to meet your obligations specified in your Individual Funding Agreement and have completed your quarterly DS NMDS Report.

At the end of the financial year, you must submit an:

  • Annual Record of Purchases

You will also need to provide supporting documentation, including:

  • a copy of your bank statements for the year
  • your completed Cash Log.

More information

Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated:
22 September 2016
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