Last year the Australian Government announced a review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The review aims to improve the experience of participants and ensure that the NDIS is sustainable. The final report is due to be released in October this year.
In June 2023, the Independent Review into the NDIS released an Interim Report.
The report is called “What we have heard”, and is set out in 2 parts. Part A outlines 5 key challenges for the scheme. Part B of the report lists 10 priority areas for improvement.
Below is a summary of the two parts, as well as questions that people with experience of the scheme are encouraged to provide feedback on.
Part A: 5 Key Challenges
Summary of Challenge
Questions for Feedback
Why is the NDIS an oasis in a desert?
The report has identified that community supports for people with disability haven’t been delivered. This is impacting the cost of NDIS, and means that people who are not in the NDIS are missing out on the support that they need.
What are the best ways to overcome this failing? What supports from governments, business and the community are missing? Does the original vision need to be rethought because people with disability do not neatly fit into silos or ‘tiers’?
What does reasonable and necessary mean?
What is ‘reasonable and necessary’ hasn’t been well defined, according to the report. This is resulting in poor planning experiences and inconsistent decisions about funding.
What is the best way to clarify and put into practice reasonable and necessary so that outcomes are clear for participants and everyone knows what to expect from the scheme. What frameworks or processes could help make this fundamental change?
Why are there many more children in the NDIS than expected?
More young children are entering system than expected. The report suggests that this is due to higher rates of disability among children being identified, as well as a lack of supports outside the NDIS.
How do you think support for all children with disability should be structured (not just those in the NDIS)? What is the best way to support children with disability and families?
Why aren’t NDIS markets working?
According to the report, markets in the NDIS have not worked as originally imagined. The result of this is participants not having choice and control over their supports, particularly in remote areas.
How, when and where NDIS markets could be better designed, structured and supported? What needs to be done to ensure NDIS markets serve the interests of people with disability, rather than the other way round? Where will markets not work? How can scheme help participants become more independent; not more dependent?
How do we ensure the NDIS is sustainable?
The report acknowledges that the NDIS is a needs-based scheme, and must provide certainty for participants and their families. However, the NDIS must also be sustainable.
What is the best way to measure both the benefits as well as the costs of the scheme and how to ensure the scheme is sustainable. How can the Review better balance the goals of choice and control and sustainability and contribute to the new sustainability framework foreshadowed by National Cabinet?
Part B: 10 Areas for Improvement
Summary of Issues
Questions for Feedback
Applying and getting a plan
The report says that gaining access to the NDIS is not simple, and once access has been granted, planning processes are “complex, confusing and stressful.” The decision-making process is not clear for participants, who often feel they have to continually prove their disability and needs over and over again.
How can we empower you through the planning process?
A complete and joined up ecosystem of support
According to the report, there isn’t enough support for people with disability outside the NDIS. Adults and children with disability who don’t have access to the NDIS are missing out on supports that they need. More needs to be done to make mainstream and community supports more accessible.
What is the best way to provide supports for those not in the NDIS?
Defining ‘reasonable and necessary’
There is not a clear and consistent understanding of what is ‘reasonable and necessary’, the report says. It’s not clear to participants how plans are assessed or how funding decisions are made. This leads to confusion and frustration.
How would you define ‘reasonable and necessary’?
Early childhood supports
The report identifies that there are not enough supports for children and families in everyday environments such as the home, in early childhood education settings, and in the community. Children with disability aren’t being identified early enough, particularly in regional and remote communities.
What is the best way to support children with disability and those with emerging developmental concerns?
The support and service marketplace
The NDIS ‘market’ isn’t working well for all participants, according to the report. In simple terms, the NDIS market is made up of all the supports participants can access from providers, and all the providers who give supports. Where there isn’t enough competition or choice of providers, participants may not have access to the supports they need. This is particularly a problem in First Nations and remote communities.
How can the market be better designed, structured and supported?
Measuring outcomes and performance
There isn’t enough data available to help participants choose services. The report suggests that better measurement would make it easier to see where the NDIS is working well, and where improvements are needed.
How should outcomes and performance be measured and shared?
Achieving long term outcomes
The report says that there is too much focus on immediate needs instead of achieving long term outcomes around participation, inclusion in communities and employment.
How would you like to build better outcomes into your plans?
Help accessing supports
A lack of information needed to independently choose providers means participants need the support of ‘intermediaries’. These include local area coordinators, early childhood partners, remote community connectors, support coordinators and plan managers. However the roles of these intermediaries ‘overlap, leave gaps and are confusing’ according to the report.
What does good service from someone helping you navigate the NDIS look like?
Supported living and housing
The report says that there hasn’t been enough innovation in housing and living supports. Participants are often not able to find the housing and living supports that suit their needs, and have limited choice in where they live. There is a lack of transparency and consistency in decision making and not enough support for participants to explore their housing options.
How should housing and living options be improved to build a good life?
The report says that participants do not always get the support and safeguards that they need in ways that work for them. Systems need to work together to improve safety and outcomes, and participants should be empowered and supported to build capacity to keep themselves safe.
How should the safeguarding system be improved for a better NDIS?