Service Agreements with Participants: Provision of NDIS Supports
Published: 27 July 2021
What is an NDIS Service Agreement?
A service agreement is a contract between a provider and an NDIS participant, which states the terms of the agreement between the two parties. Service agreements are covered under Australian Consumer Law (NDIA 2021).
If the participant wishes, another trusted person such as a family member, carer or friend can enter into the service agreement on the participant’s behalf (Disability Support Guide 2021).
Note that a service agreement is not the same as an NDIS support plan. While a support plan outlines the participant’s goals, a service agreement represents a negotiation between the provider and participant and sets out the specific services that the participant will receive (Disability Support Guide 2021).
Service agreements are not mandatory under the NDIS (unless the participant requires Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) supports) but are considered best-practice and have several benefits, including:
Protecting both the provider and participant from legal liability in the event that something goes wrong
Formalising the relationship between the provider and participant
Ensuring that the provider and participant have the same expectations
Ensuring that the terms of the agreement between the provider and participant are legally binding.
This Practice Standard aims to ensure that NDIS participants clearly understand what supports they have chosen and how they will be delivered (NDIS 2020a).
Service Agreement Quality Indicators
NDIS providers must meet the following quality indicators:
Development of the Service Agreement
The service agreement should be developed collaboratively between the provider and the participant to meet the participant’s individual circumstances, needs and preferences (WAAMH 2021). Broadly speaking, the service agreement should outline:
An explanation of the supports being delivered
The expectations of the provider and participant
Any conditions attached to the delivery of supports, and the rationale of these conditions.
What Exactly Should a Service Agreement Include?
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) lists the following considerations to help providers and participants decide what should be included in their service agreement.
Note that this is not a template and is not intended to replace an actual agreement.
Supports being provided
The specific services and supports being provided
The way in which the services and supports will be provided
When and where the services and supports will be provided
What day and time?
Is it regular or one-off?
Costs of supports
Costs of materials and products
Costs of travel
Other fees and charges
Whether the participant needs to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST)
The method of payment
Provider and participant responsibilities
The provider’s cancellation policy
Actions that the provider and participant need to take before supports are provided
Actions that the provider and participant need to take if either party cannot meet their responsibilities
Format and language of the service agreement
Is it in a format and language that the participant can understand?
Duration of the service agreement
When the service agreement will be reviewed
How changes to the service agreement can occur
How the service agreement can be ended
Dispute resolution process
Actions the participant can take if they are unhappy with a situation or service
How the participant can raise issues or concerns
Who the participant can contact if an issue cannot be resolved or they have a complaint
An interactive version of this list can be found on the NDIS website.
Inappropriate Service Agreements
The Office of the Public Advocate (2019) has identified the following areas of concern where service agreement provisions may be ‘onerous and unfair’:
If the service agreement is set out in writing, the participant should receive a copy of the agreement that has been signed by both the provider and the participant (NDIS 2020a).
If it is not practical to provide the participant with a written copy, or the participant does not wish to receive a copy, the circumstances and reasons surrounding this decision should be documented in the participant’s records (WAAMH 2021).
Supported Independent Living (SIL) Support in Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)
Note: This Quality Indicator is not relevant to every provider.
Providers that deliver supported independent living (SIL) support in specialist disability accommodation (SDA) settings should have a documented service agreement in place between the provider, the SDA provider and every participant receiving supports (WAAMH 2021).
The service agreement should outline the party responsible and their roles for the following matters:
The way in which participants’ concerns about the dwelling are communicated and addressed
The way in which conflicts involving participants are managed
The way in which changes to participant circumstances and/or support needs are agreed upon and communicated
The way in which vacancies will be filled in shared living settings, including participants’ rights to have their needs, preferences and situation taken into account during this process
The way in which behaviours of concern that may put tenancies at risk are managed, if applicable.