Physiotherapists provide important support services to people living with disability. They are highly trained to manage acute, non-acute, life-long and life-limiting conditions. Physiotherapists build on people's strengths and address impairments or problems relating to activity and participation within the relevant environment. For a person living with disability, access to appropriate physiotherapy services positively impacts their personal, social and educational success and their potential to fulfil their goals.
We believe all people living with disability should have access to appropriate high-quality physiotherapy services, when and where they need it. Accessible, person-centred physiotherapy services—tailored to individual needs and available within a variety of settings in the local community—are important in optimising function and community participation.
As such, we believe physiotherapists should be appropriately recognised for their unique skills and wide scope of practice.
The steps we are taking
Given the expert and highly skilled services physiotherapists provide in the community, it is important people with disability have access to support when and how they need it. We want to strengthen the capacity for people with disability to access mainstream physiotherapy services and ensure they have choice and control over the care they receive.
To ensure NDIS participants are able to receive disability services when and how they need it, the APA is:
- advocating on behalf of physiotherapists to government to ensure physiotherapists are supported to do their role - the APA has met with government representatives to discuss key issues relating to physiotherapists working in the NDIS and providing disability support;
- advocating on behalf of physiotherapists to the NDIA to ensure physiotherapists are supported to do their role and educating the NDIA on the important role of physiotherapy in supporting people with disability - the APA has relationships with NDIA staff to advocate and promote the importance and scope of physiotherapy to support people with disability;
- educating the general public on the value of physiotherapy for people with disability - showing images of people with disability in our National Advertising Campaign—Choose Physio - promoting the role of physiotherapy for people with disability through social media; and
- collaborating with other peak bodies to develop mutually beneficial education content and advocacy materials.
The APA has also developed free online training on Build Your Confidence in Disability Management available on cpd4physios (5 CPD hours). This course is designed to upskill physiotherapists to increase their confidence in working with people with a disability. A Paediatric disability module (4 CPD hours) is also available. This project was funded under the Jobs and Market Fund administered by the Department of Social Services.
Federal election 2022 – our asks
In Physiotherapy: A Path to Better Care, the APA asks for the incoming government to:
- Properly fund the NDIS to meet its stated functions.
- Map and publish public costs savings across all areas of government thanks to the implementation of the NDIS.
- Fund the training and upskilling of NDIA planning workforce.
And beyond the NDIS, to:
- Fund preventive models including to support mobility and capacity prioritising an at risk cohort-those who are not eligible to the NDIS but are at risk of becoming eligible.
- Fund the immediate implementation of steps to align regulation across care sector that can be implemented now.
How this helps
The promotion of physiotherapists’ skills and knowledge to consumers, government and the NDIA will increase understanding of the role physiotherapy plays in supporting people with disability. It is hoped that in turn, greater awareness will result in:
- improved choice and control participants have in seeking physiotherapy services, with more physiotherapists offering NDIA services;
- appropriate remuneration and recognition for physiotherapists providing disability services; and
- increased recognition of the physiotherapy scope of practice by the NDIA.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides support to people with disability, their families and carers. It is jointly governed and funded by the Federal, State and Territory governments. The NDIS was initially piloted with a launch on 1 July 2013. Roll out of the NDIS began in July 2016 and was progressively rolled out on a State by State basis.
As the recommendations from the Productivity Commission inquiry (2011) and from the Tune Review (2019) are still in the process of being implemented, and taking into consideration that the roll-out of the NDIS itself is producing its own learnings and adaptations, the NDIS is a very dynamic and moving space in terms of Policy and Advocacy.