The NDIS Review: What does it all mean?

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At Xavier, we’ve been working with families transitioning over to the NDIS, since the rollout commenced in July 2018. We know that navigating the new NDIS world can be challenging for many families and participants. Many acknowledge that there are improvements that can be made to make the NDIS work better for participants and providers.

In May 2019, the Federal Government commissioned an independent review of the NDIS. The purpose of the review was to identify opportunities to make processes simpler and more straight-forward to improve the scheme.

What did the review find?

The review found that the NDIS is improving economic and social outcomes for many of its participants and increasing their ability to achieve their goals. The review also found that the rollout of the NDIS has not been smooth for all participants.

Feedback to the review showed that some participants:

  • feel that the NDIS is too complex and difficult to navigate
  • experience lengthy waits for supports
  • have found the transition to the NDIS confusing and frustrating
  • feel that there is a lack of transparency around how the NDIA makes decisions including when a support is reasonable and necessary
  • want to have more support and information to understand and navigate the NDIS
  • feel they are not recognised as the experts in their disability
  • have difficulty finding information and products in accessible formats
  • feel NDIA staff do not understand disability or appreciate the challenges people with disability face as part of everyday life

Recommendations

There were 29 recommendations made in the independent review to improve the NDIS. The key recommendations are:

  1. The introduction of a Participant Service Guarantee that sets out standards the NDIA must meet including:
    • clear expectations for how long processes will take to complete
    • more transparency in how the NDIA makes their decisions
    • better service delivery from NDIA staff and their Partners in the Community
  2. Improve people’s experience with the NDIS by:
    • providing more flexibility in using NDIS funding
    • allowing plans to be amended
    • participants being provided drafts of their plan before it is approved
    • better supporting children and families
    • clarifying access for people with psychosocial disability
    • providing better connections to supports where markets are undersupplied
    • enhancing online systems so people can track where their requests are up to
  3. For the NDIA and governments to work together to:
    • clarify how the NDIS works with other service systems
    • help people navigate, engage with and understand the NDIS
    • create resources that help participants decide which supports they should use

What happens next?

The Australian Government has committed to developing an NDIS Participant Service Guarantee by 1 July 2020. The Guarantee will set new standards for the time it takes for key steps in the NDIS process. This means there will be shorter, agreed timeframes for people to receive a decision on whether they will be covered by the NDIS, to receive an NDIS plan and to have a plan reviewed.

Some of the other recommendations to come from the review may take longer to implement.

The NDIS Participant Service Guarantee

The Participant Service Guarantee should ensure that the NDIA remains accountable for the way it engages with people with a disability. The review recommends that the Participant Service Guarantee should be based on the NDIA’s requirement to meet service delivery standards or principles outlined below.

Engagement principles

Transparent – Participants and prospective participants have access to information about the NDIS and their plans that is clear, accurate, consistent, up‑to‑date, easy to understand and available in formats that meet their needs.

Responsive – The NDIA responds early and fully to participants’ individual needs, concerns and questions. It examines processes and systems regularly to make sure they continue to fit as the NDIS evolves and people’s needs change. A single point of contact in the NDIA is provided for each participant, family group or strongly connected group.

Respectful – The NDIA and its Partners value, listen to and respect participants and recognise participants’ expertise about their disability. The NDIA will ensure its staff have a high level of training in disability (including psychosocial disability and other complex conditions) and in diversity (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, culturally and linguistically diverse values and practices, and LGBTQI+ and gender considerations).

Empowering – Participants and prospective participants are empowered to make an access request, navigate the NDIS system, participate in the planning process and use their plan supports. Participants are given information about the reasons for all NDIA decisions about them.

Connected – The NDIA and its Partners work with other government service systems to make sure participants get the support they need. It will reach out to communities and people who are unaware of the NDIS or reluctant to apply to assist them to connect with the NDIS.

Further information

For further information on the review check out the links below:

Full Review of NDIS Act 2013

“Plain English” Summary of the 2019 review of NDIS Act 2013