Disability groups call for better quality plans in NDIS review
12 August 2019 at 4:51 pm
The Morrison government’s review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme must focus on improving the quality of plans, and not just on cutting wait times and red tape, disability advocates say.
NDIS Minister Stuart Robert announced a review of NDIS legislation and rules on Monday, in an effort to streamline processes in the scheme.
The review – to be conducted by David Tune AO PSM – will inform the development of the government’s promised NDIS Participant Service Guarantee, which sets new standards for how long it takes people to get their NDIS plan or have their plan reviewed.
“The Participant Service Guarantee will take effect from 1 July 2020 and will have a particular focus on children as well as participants needing specialist disability accommodation and assistive technology,” Robert said.
“We are listening, and will be consulting with people with disability and their families, the disability services sector, ministers and officials from Commonwealth and state governments and the NDIA as part of this review.”
People with Disability Australia have welcomed the review, noting NDIS participants were waiting too long to access essential equipment and get their plans finalised.
But PWDA policy and advocacy director Romola Hollywood said people with disability were also finding their plans did not reflect the support they needed.
She said action must be taken to create better quality plans, so less people were forced into lengthy review processes.
“We are concerned about any moves towards standardisation of plans, or to implementing generic plans that will undermine the whole aim of the NDIS, which was to provide individualised supports that meet the specific needs of people with disability,” Hollywood said.
“We need to see the quality of plans lifted, in addition, to shorter time frames for access and plan development being met.”
Hollywood called on the government to remove the NDIA staffing cap and improve the training of NDIA planners.
Disability providers have also welcomed the review. Peak body National Disability Services said it was an important step to help cut red tape for organisations.
Acting CEO David Moody said he hoped the review would shorten the NDIA’s decision-making process, which had been a source of great frustration for both providers and NDIS participants.
Moody told Pro Bono News the review was also an opportunity to talk about some of the other challenges in the scheme.
“There are a range of other administrative and process issues that should come within the scope of the review,” Moody said.
“So NDS welcomes it and looks forward to making a submission to it.”
But Labor’s NDIS spokesperson, Bill Shorten, said by announcing a review that will report back in October – and a service guarantee not brought in until mid next year – the government was only “ensuring more months of dysfunction”.
“The complaints of NDIS participants facing delays in service and equipment delivery and chaos in their transport and accommodation arrangements have reached critical mass,” Shorten said.
“Those people need leadership and funding not stunts and delaying tactics.
“Here is a tip: Skip the review and just hire some more people to fix the waiting list.”
Consultation for the review will commence later this month and will include an online survey, discussion paper, and face-to-face workshops across the country.