The Australian government is considering the recommendations raised in a review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and what will need to change in the legislation and the way the NDIS operates to reflect the review findings.
In May 2019, the federal government commissioned former senior public servant David Tune to review the NDIS, which was established in 2013, and the way it is managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

The review report said, “It is clear that it will still take a number of years before the NDIS is delivering consistent positive experiences for people with disability.”

In his report, Mr Tune says that people with disability have reported frustrations about the administration of the NDIS by the NDIA. Transparency, consistency and timeliness in decision-making are critical issues and people with disability have reported poor experiences when working with NDIA staff and its partners in the community.

National Disability Insurance Agency

The report says that the NDIA as an entity is not mature. Many of its enabling systems are still being developed and the current ICT system has significant limitations. Appropriate workflow management tools are yet to be fully deployed and significant usability features are in the process of being refined. In addition, more time is needed to strengthen the capability of the NDIA workforce to be understanding and responsive to the needs of people with disability.

The review report adds that it appears that the vast majority of issues surrounding the NDIS are operational in nature or are a lingering effect of the transition from state and territory disability systems. However, after more than six years of implementation experience, some improvements could be made to the legislation to improve the participant experience. The report includes 29 recommendations on how to improve the scheme.

Two of the recommendations are:

Introducing 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.

Improving 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.

The report concludes, “1 July 2020 represents one of the most important milestones in the history of the NDIS. This is the date that the NDIS becomes available across all of Australia and the transition of people with disability from state and territory service systems is due to be completed. The next phase of the NDIS presents opportunities to deliver and embed improvements in the way the NDIS is delivered, with a stronger focus on improving the participant experience and maximising the benefits of what the NDIS can offer.”

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