Last week’s announcement of the Government’s Plan to improve the NDIS has been welcomed in addressing some of the practical limitations of the system.
We were fortunate to attend a conference briefing for disability service providers hosted by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) in Canberra in the lead up to the announcement.
NDIS Minister Stuart Robert spoke at the event of the challenges faced in the rollout to date – which has now achieved 80% of expected full scheme – and the measures that would be put in place to set the Scheme up for future long-term success.
These measures are based around 6 key focus areas of:
- Quicker access and quality decision making
- Increased engagement and collaboration
- Market innovation and improved technology
- A financially sustainable Scheme
- Equitable and consistent decisions, and
- Improved long term outcomes for people with disability, their families and carers.
The strategy outlines several changes to NDIS Plan administration, which will be welcomed by our clients. These include:
- Increased flexibility –changes will be made to enable Participants to move funding more flexibly across different categories of supports, and between core and capacity building supports.
- Increased access equity – the NDIS will be funding independent Participant functional assessments to ensure consistency and to shift the cost burden of what has been, until now, a private out-of-pocket expense, limiting equitable assessment.
- Draft Plans – will now be issued prior to approval, enabling Participants to review and make amendments during this phase, rather than having to go through a full review process following receipt of a final plan. Joint planning will allow a Participant, Local Area Coordinator and NDIA Planner to collectively discuss the working draft of the plan before it is approved.
- Small changes to plans – due to changes in circumstance will be allowable without triggering a full review.
- Plan duration – can be increased to a maximum of 3 years where a disability is likely to remain stable within the timeframe.
- Plan format – plans will now be accessible in more accessible formats, including large font, audio, e-text and braille.
The Minister also announced other initiatives under the Plan, including:
- Introduction of an NDIS Participant Service Guarantee which will set new service timeframes for NDIA service delivery.
- Changes to Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) – enabling Participants to live with partners, family or housemates.
- Increased funding for the NDIS community connectors program supporting indigenous and remote communities.
- Increased funding for the NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Strategy (ILC)
Minister Roberts also announced the development of an NDIS workforce strategy to support expected demand growth.
We look forward to these changes and initiatives coming into effect in 2020.
Visit the NDIS website at https://www.ndis.gov.au/news/4016-minister-reveals-plan-improve-ndis to find out more about the Plan.