Where to for the NDIS?

Many hoping for a better future

The NDIS was introduced in 2013 based on evidence that public funding investment in an insurance program to support people with disability would result in a clear, significant and positive benefit to cost ratio. In other words, it was an investment that would save money compared to medical costs that would be incurred if it did not exist. It would create returns on investment by making gainful employment possible for many and reducing the opportunity cost of family members and others forgoing employment to provide care. In public spending terms, the NDIS was right up there at the top of worthwhile investments.

It is no secret that the NDIS has been something of a political football for most of its 9 year existence, when it began with trial sites in Tasmania and South Australia for limited age brackets. For a significant period in its early years, the government of the day labelled the scheme welfare, lumping the NDIS in with handouts, benefits and the unemployment queue at Centrelink. There was also a lack of clarity and messy transitions between existing structures such as the Disability Support Pension and the NDIS. An industry of NDIS service providers spawned overnight, with many feeling their way in uncertain territory. It was no surprise that there were many bumps in the road for people with disability in applying for the NDIS; in getting appropriate plans for their circumstances once accepted; and maintaining an adequate level of care over time. 

Some of the main issues that have occurred since inception still persist, whilst new ones have emerged over time, such as the failed attempt last year to introduce independent assessments, where an allied health professional would make a determination on an appropriate level of support for an individual, based on a few hours of work, including an assessment done over the phone, and often about a condition they know little or nothing about and with little appreciation of the impacts on the individual. Thankfully, after a Parliamentary inquiry was damning in its assessment of the initiative, it was shelved.

Over time there has been an increasingly adversarial posture adopted by the agency that implements the scheme, spending over $40 million over the past 12 months on legal fees fighting cases against participants in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Participants were appealing cuts to funding and denial of supports with one-third of the agency spend on legal fees. Multiple participants report a process designed to be overwhelming, to break people’s spirit and will to fight for what they need.

Senator Jordan Steele-John

Senator Jordan Steele-John of Western Australia, who both lives with disability himself and is a disability advocate said the increase in legal costs was “a symptom of a very concerning trend in the NDIA to exclude and restrict access to the NDIS”. He said the money would have been better spent on participants. “The vast majority of AAT cases result in the agency agreeing to the participant’s initial request,” Steele-John said. “Sending people to a tribunal to fight for what they need and are entitled to is a cruel tactic that must end.” He said the “extreme spending further illustrates why it’s so important to put disabled people in leadership positions at the NDIA”. The latest NDIA quarterly report said there were 4,265 open AAT cases at March 2022 with 1,583 new cases in the quarter, a year-on-year increase of 244%.

There has just been a change in government following the recent elections and many are hoping for a better future for the NDIS. During the recent election campaign, the new government promised to introduce a new reviews process and to improve the planning process that determines individual funding and the level of discretion with which those funds are used. Regarding legal appeals, there is a promise to investigate appeals spending by the agency and increase support for scheme participants making appeals.

People living with disability throughout Australia are waiting and watching.

by Frank McKeown, President, HSP Research Foundation, June 2022

NDIS Newsletters over the past 3 months

10 March 2022

In this edition:

  • Supporting participants through severe weather in Queensland and New South Wales
  • Faster and easier access to assistive technology
  • Enrol to vote – accessible information
  • International Women’s Day 2022
  • New guidelines for nutrition supports including meal preparation
  • Self-management survey for participants and nominees
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support
  • Events
  • Participant First Engagement Initiative: help shape the NDIS 
  • Participant spotlight

11 April 2022

The ‘my NDIS’ app makes it easier to manage your NDIS plan where and when you want to

The ‘my NDIS’ app is an accessible and user-friendly way for participants to see their plan, check their budget, and make claims.
Use the app to:

  • Quickly and easily check your budget
  • See what funds are available before you claim
  • Claim on the go when you purchase supports
  • Talk to providers about your goals and how they can support you

Keep track of your budget and check past claims

21 April 2022

In this edition:

  • New resource: Guides for understanding employment supports
  • Psychosocial Disability Recovery-Oriented Framework – Quarterly update
  • Positions available to work on a federally funded digital project
  • Monthly Summary Data available
  • Download the ‘my NDIS’ app
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support
  • Events
  • Participant First Engagement Initiative: help shape the NDIS 
  • Participant spotlight

5 May 2022

In this edition:

19 May 2022

“Improving Support Coordination for NDIS participants” presentations for participants, families and carers

We would like to invite participants, families and carers to attend an online presentation focused on improving Support Coordination for NDIS participants.

We will provide information on the following topics at these events:

  • what we have heard about how support coordination can work better
  • what participants should expect from their support coordinator
  • how we will improve support coordination for participants.

Register now, as places are limited.

Date                    Time
07.06.22             10am -11am AEST (Vic, NSW, Tas, ACT, Qld)
                            9:30am – 10:30am (SA and NT)
                            8am – 9am WA
09.06.22             7pm – 8pm AEST (Vic, NSW, Tas, ACT, Qld)
                           6:30pm – 7:30pm (SA and NT)
                           5pm – 6pm WA

2 June 2022

Plan Implementation Directory is now available

We have launched the Plan Implementation Directory to support participants and their families and carers to find the right information needed to make the best use of their NDIS plans.

The directory is an accessible platform and has links to key topics that participants have said are important to help use their NDIS plan.

We developed the directory by working closely with participants in more than 570 hours of engagement and consultation.

Participants, their families and carers can use the Plan Implementation Directory to: understand their plan start their plan use their plan work with providers know what to do when something goes wrong. We have launched the Directory as a test version. This means we will continue to update the directory based on what you tell us you would like to see in the Directory.

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