The Government’s proposed reforms to the NDIS will unfairly limit access to the scheme for people with a range of serious disabilities, make the assessment process even less transparent, and undermine the ‘choice and control’ the scheme was designed to provide.
PIAC’s concerns have been outlined in a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS.
‘The Government’s cost-cutting overhaul of the NDIS includes a number of disturbing changes that will erode the ‘choice and control’ promised by the scheme to people with disability,’ said Senior Solicitor Chadwick Wong, who leads PIAC’s A Fairer NDIS project.
‘Not only do the changes fail to address existing transparency, accountability and governance issues which have been the subject of recommendations by numerous inquiry bodies – they create new ones.’
Under the Government’s proposed changes, important decisions about whether a person can access the NDIS and how much funding they receive will be based on a mandatory independent assessment, undertaken by a health practitioner who is not known to the person being assessed. This independent assessment will not be able to be reviewed or appealed.
NDIS funding for participants will also no longer be based on identifying ‘reasonable and necessary supports’, personalised to each individual and their goals. Instead, participants will be given a budget based on their mandatory independent assessment, with their goals no longer being at the front and centre of the planning process.
‘This is a deeply flawed proposal that fundamentally changes the way in which the NDIS operates,’ said Chadwick Wong.
‘Forcing people to undergo independent assessments by strangers and giving them plans which disregard their individual goals defeats the entire purpose of the NDIS.’
‘Serious questions must be asked about fairness, transparency and accountability of the proposed assessment process when there is no avenue for appeal.’
The removal of the word ‘co-design’, as seen in documents leaked to the media last week, also points to a concerning step away from meaningful engagement with the disability sector.
‘We urge the Government to stop the implementation of these changes immediately, and to properly consult with the community so that improvements to the NDIS may be co-designed with people with disability,’ said Chadwick Wong.