Feds Hold Key to NDIS Report as Issue Becomes Hot Topic for WA Election
17 February 2017 at 2:27 pm
The Western Australian government says its hands are tied on the release of a report comparing the two NDIS models trialled in Western Australia over the last three years as debate over the roll out of the WA scheme heats up in the election campaign.
There has been disquiet and in some cases outrage within the disability community that the report by Stantons International was not released prior to the state signing a bilateral agreement with the Commonwealth for a WA National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The agreement was signed just hours before the Western Australian government entered caretaker mode ahead of the state election.
WA Disability Services Minister Donna Faragher told about 50 people at a Liberal party NDIS forum on Wednesday she had no objection to the release of what she called a comprehensive evaluation that had contributed to state government’s decision making.
The report directly compared 300 plans in each model, included interviews with scheme participants and some workshops.
“I’m very happy for the report to be released, however it’s a joint report so I can’t just release it on my own,” Faragher said.
“The report says the WA NDIS is the closest fit for the effective delivery of an NDIS in this state with the least number of modifications.
“I have spoken to the federal minister and he was seeking some advice, and I would like to think the report can be released soon.”
The West Australian election on 11 March is shaping up as one of the most critical polls the state has ever seen for people with disability.
The next minister will decide the legal and administrative framework for the WA NDIS.
However, another NDIS forum on Thursday night saw the parties vying for that mandate come face to face with about 80 constituents at an, at times, heated and emotional pre-election event organised by disability peak and advocacy organisations in the Disability Coalition of WA.
Tempers flared as people challenged Faragher about the decision for WA to administer the scheme locally and what they see as a lack of consultation with people with disability.
Challenged on the capacity of WA’s local coordination model, administration costs, national comparability on the application of reasonable and necessary criteria and pricing, the minister was adamant the WA approach was the best fit for the state whilst acknowledging there were areas for improvement in both models.
People at the forum called for more transparency by the Disability Services Commission and the government on the state approach to the national scheme.
Earlier in the week the Youth Disability Advocacy Network (YDAN) made the same demand in an open letter to politicians calling for information, consultation and transparent decision making.
YDAN committee chair Grace Mills said the young people weren’t being heard.
She said they were concerned old ways of doing things would be retained, preventing progress and hampering implementation. She hoped a young person with disability would be included on the board or advisory council that would govern the WA NDIS.
Similar concerns about representation have been raised by advocates for people who are culturally and linguistically diverse, deaf, or have an intellectual disability.
Labor candidate and opposition spokesperson Stephen Dawson is well aware he could inherit the WA NDIS after the election. He promised to throw open the books and release evaluation information on the WA NDIS before committing to a particular model, even if it meant delaying the roll out of the NDIS into any new areas for a few months.
The Greens are promising to hold either side to account.
Forum co-chair and chief executive officer of Developmental Disability WA Taryn Harvey said the disability portfolio had not been a political priority to date and the forum had provided unfiltered engagement with people with disability.
Harvey said in successive governments, there had been no effective voice for people with disability in the parliament nor the capability to take on systemic issues over the longer term.
She said the enduring challenges in education, health, justice and supporting people with challenging behaviour and complex communication must also be addressed.