Reprieve for NDIS Board Members
Monday, 7th March 2016 at 10:43 am
The Federal Government has given a reprieve to members of the inaugural board of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, backing away from its earlier plans to replace them all with heavyweights from the corporate sector.
However, claims that the Federal Government is also attempting to remove control of the NDIS from the states have caused anger in the disability sector.
The Turnbull Government announced that state and territory governments have agreed to expand the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) board and extend the terms of existing board members.
Minister for Social Services Christian Porter said the current board members’ terms would have otherwise expired on 30 June 2016.
In July 2015, the former Abbott government controversially moved to shakeup the NDIS Board overseeing the $20 billion scheme by replacing board members, described as stalwarts of the Not for Profit sector, with corporate sector leaders from top public companies.
However, Minister Porter has asked the Board Chair and the man regarded as the architect of the NDIS, Bruce Bonyhady, and three members to serve a further six months after their current terms expire in mid-2016.
“The remaining members have been invited to extend their terms for twelve months, taking them through to mid-2017,” Minister Porter said.
“These changes will deliver continuity as the NDIS starts its transition to the full scheme in July 2016, and will ensure there is progressive exchange of knowledge and experience to enhance the development and governance of the scheme.”
Minister Porter said the government remained committed to expanding the board’s specialist knowledge and experience.
“There’s no doubt that as the NDIS builds towards the full scheme, with an eventual $22 billion annual outlay, there will be an increasing need for high level financial and insurance expertise,” he said.
“We will be able to start building that additional expertise by adding a further three positions to the board in July 2016.
“I’ll be bringing forward minor amendments to the NDIS Act this year to enable that change.
However, it’s been reported that documents from the meeting of state and commonwealth disability ministers allegedly leaked on Monday showed proposals that would give the federal minister more power by removing the need for governance and compliance issues to be agreed by all parties.
Under the proposal, the NDIS Act would be amended so that enacting changes in key areas such as eligibility for the scheme and the content of individual plans would require consultation with states, rather than consensus, the report said.
Not for Profit advocacy organisation, People with Disability Australia, said any watering down of the NDIS or a Commonwealth takeover of the scheme would be a major breach of trust with the Australian people.
“Contrary to recent speculation and reporting, the NDIS is on budget, on time and delivering overdue change in the lives of people with disability across Australia,” PWDA President Craig Wallace said on behalf of the Australian Cross Disability Alliance.
“The Alliance calls on Prime Minister Turnbull to rule out removing the independence of the NDIS and any retrograde shift to an outdated rationed disability support system.”
Minister Porter has denied the claims.
“The government has not and does not suggest any change to the NDIS Act whatsoever pertaining to eligibility or what constitutes reasonable and necessary support. What has been discussed are possible changes to the processes that would allow for potential future rule changes,” Minister Porter said.
“For instance, outside of the NDIS Act rules exist on a range of administrative matters from how the CEO might measure and assess the concept of value for money or how the CEO might release information and all that has been proposed, in this regard all that has been discussed are possible process changes that could lead to future amendment of some rules.
“The reason this possibility is being discussed is to improve and simplify the governance of the NDIS and allow for more responsive decision making to the changing circumstances that the NDIS will inevitably encounter as we transition from the present 30,000 participants to the full scheme number of 460,000.”
He said any changes in this regard would only proceed with the agreement of the states and territories.
“There can be no unilateral action from the Commonwealth,” he said.
“Crucially, none of the changes to governance the Commonwealth wants to discuss would enable the Commonwealth, or the states, to change scheme design, eligibility requirements or the definition of reasonable and necessary supports. Claims to the contrary are completely incorrect.”
The NDIS Board members reappointed to the end of 2016 are:
- Board Chair, Bruce Bonyhady AM
- Geraldine Harwood
- Fiona Payne
- John Hill PSM.
Reappointments until mid‑2017 are:
- Glenn Keys,
- John Walsh AM,
- Professor Rhonda Galbally AO
- Martin Laverty.
- The government’s information on the NDIS board can be found here.