Doubts NDIS Timeline Can Be Met – Productivity Commission
Thursday, 19th October 2017 at 8:36 am
The scale, pace and nature of the changes occurring with the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are key long-term concerns with doubts that the current implementation timeline can be met, according to the most extensive study into the scheme by the Productivity Commission.
The Productivity Commission released on Thursday a final study report which shows that while NDIS costs are broadly on track with the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA’s) long-term modelling, this is mainly because participants are not using all the supports in their plans.
“The scale, pace and nature of the changes that the NDIS is driving are unprecedented,” productivity commissioner Angela MacRae said.
“A key concern that has emerged from our extensive consultations is the speed of participant intake. This is impacting on planning processes, the quality of plans, supporting infrastructure and market development.”
The report called for governments and the NDIA to start planning for a slower intake of participants, and ensuring current support is not withdrawn too early.
It also found there needed to be greater emphasis on pre-planning, in-depth planning conversations, reporting on the quality of plans, and more specialised training for planners.
Social policy commissioner Richard Spencer said key challenges identified in the study report included “development of support services that will be needed under the new scheme and growing the disability care workforce”.
“There is enormous goodwill behind the NDIS. Now is the time to put the goodwill into action,” Spencer said.
The report found that the scale and pace of the NDIS rollout to full scheme was “highly ambitious”, and would not be delivered “as scheduled in terms of participant intake”.
“The rollout schedule risks the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) not being able to implement the NDIS as intended and it poses risks to the financial sustainability of the scheme. The NDIA is cognisant of these risks,” the report said.
“If the trend of delivering about 80 per cent of the… estimates continues, it will take an additional year before all eligible participants are in the scheme. And this delay could be longer if the scheme falls further behind when the participant intake ramps up in 2017-18. The reality is that the rollout timetable for participant intake will not be met. This means that ‘full scheme’ – the time when everyone eligible to enter the NDIS will be able to do so and have an approved plan– will be delayed beyond 2019-20.”
The Productivity Commission recommended:
- a shift towards price monitoring and regulation, independent of the NDIA;
- better coordination among governments to develop markets;
- a targeted approach to skilled migration to increase the disability workforce; and
- better equipping participants to exercise choice.
Once fully implemented, it is expected that around 475,000 people with disability will receive individualised supports, at an estimated cost of $22 billion each year.
Dr Ken Baker, chief executive of peak non-government disability provider National Disability Services (NDS) said the Productivity Commission had echoed many of the calls of the disability sector in its report.
“We welcome the commission’s recommendations for transparent pricing for services under the NDIS, improved NDIS planning processes for people with disability and addressing the disability workforce shortage,” Baker said.
“The Productivity Commission found that poor price setting was hindering the development of a viable supply of disability services that could respond to demand.
“Inadequate NDIS prices are forcing disability service providers to consider employing less skilled and experienced staff and lowering their supervision ratios – which risks compromising the quality of supports for people with disability.”
Baker said disability service providers would be pleased that the report retained a focus on the quality of plans, including the need for improved knowledge of disability among planners, a reduction in the use of phone planning and reporting on the quality of plans and number of unexpected plan reviews.
He urged all governments to take on board the commission’s recommendations and create a balance between participant intake, the quality of plans and participant outcomes.
“The Productivity Commission is doubtful the current NDIS implementation timeline can be met. The integrity of the scheme is more important than the timeline. People with disability, their families and disability service providers fought hard for this scheme,” he said.