The first dedicated minister for the disability sector, NDIS Minister Stuart Robert, last month announced a review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme legislation and rules to expedite people’s access to the scheme and their individual plans. While disability advocates and groups say they welcome much-needed efficiency improvements, they also say that any review needs to lift the quality of plans, rather than just cutting wait times.
The review will be part of the government’s NDIS Participant Service Guarantee, which aims to set new standards for how long it takes people to get their NDIS plan or have it reviewed. The service guarantee was part of the government’s election platform, along with many promises to the sector which can be found here https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan-support-people-disability
The service guarantee will operate from 1 July 2020 and will focus on children and people needing specialist disability accommodation and assistive technology. People with Disability Australia policy and advocacy director, Romola Hollywood, said people with disability needed quality plans with the right support for each. She said action must be taken to create better 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 specific needs,” Hollywood said.
Hollywood also said better plans would require the government to remove a cap on staffing the NDIA and improve planners’ training of NDIA. Labor’s NDIS spokesperson, former PM Bill Shorten, agreed the staffing cap should be lifted. He said a review that reports in October with a service guarantee brought in mid-2020 would prolong frustration for NDIS applicants.
“People need leadership and funding not … delaying tactics,” Shorten said. “Here is a tip: skip the review and just hire some more people to fix the waiting list.”
Consultation for the review will include an online survey, discussion paper, and face-to-face workshops across the country.
To find out about Sydney Community Services supports for people with disAbility, see https://www.sydneycs.org/disability-services/