Peak Body Calls for Urgent Review of NDIS
4 May 2017 at 1:40 pm
The nation’s peak body for disability service providers is calling for urgent action to save the struggling National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
It has been less than one year since the long-awaited NDIS began its national roll out but already it’s showing signs of struggling, according to National Disability Services (NDS), the peak body for service providers.
A report by the NDS, released Thursday, warned people were being rushed into the NDIS to the detriment of providing quality service.
The report said: “The scale and complexity of implementation is placing enormous pressure on all stakeholders. Some of this pressure is an inevitable consequence of large-scale change, but some is avoidable. The road to the NDIS is rougher and riskier than it needs to be.”
NDS chief executive Ken Baker told Pro Bono News the NDS was calling for a slow-down on the ambitious implementation targets.
“In the agreements between governments there are very ambitious plans for the number of plans that are going to be processed in a given period. The problem is that a quantitative target is driving everything else. Ultimately we don’t want to see the quality of plans people receive compromised by the volume which has to be processed,” Baker said.
“Having said that people have been waiting a long time for this scheme so no-one should have to slow it down unnecessarily but we do need quality plans and we need to provide people with a proper planning process – which at present I don’t think they are getting. There are some good plans but there are some quite poor ones.
“The NDIS cannot deliver on its great promise to people with disability and their families unless there is a strong and sustainable disability services sector. That sector is at risk.”
Since its nation-wide launch in July 2016, service providers say they have been swamped with demand with NDIS participant numbers doubling in the first six months to December 31.
The NDS report makes 24 recommendations, including for disability service organisations to be involved in the planning process.
“Providers of specialist supports have deep knowledge of disability – and they know their clients,” the report said.
Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the development of participation plans were of “particular concern” and called on the government to address this matter urgently.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the planning process needs fixing and I hope that this intervention focuses the government’s and the NDIA’s attention on the need for action,” Siewert said.
“Alongside evidence given to the Joint Standing Committee on NDIS and feedback given from people with disability, their family and carers, the government needs to consider this report in how to best address problems and gaps in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“It would be a monumental shame to see this huge transition leaving people worse off when it was intended to do the exact opposite.”
A spokesperson for the NDIA, the federal government agency overseeing the scheme’s rollout, told the ABC they would be meeting with the NDS to discuss the report and review the recommendations.
“We are currently reviewing provider and participant interaction with the NDIS with a view of improving their experience as the scheme grows,” he said.
“The agency is committed to working with people with disability and providers to build and deliver this important reform.”