News | 1 May 2018

Disability Reform Council – Project Plans and Working Groups

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The council, which consists of all the Disability Ministers from all around the country met yesterday in Sydney.

Every time they meet, the council releases a communique to let people know what was discussed and what was decided. Given that this is one of the governing bodies of the NDIS, it’s worth paying attention.

To be honest, the communiques that come after the meetings are really hard work. They read like they were written by a large and particularly argumentative committee who have watched too many episodes of Yes Minister. And there’s a good reason for that – they are. They are never short and contain so much bureaucratic jargon you need Google Translate just to get past the first paragraph.

So to spare you the pain we’ve come up with just a few edited highlights.

The Council agreed to a program of work, including establishing a process for coordinating the escalation of critical cases and ensuring effective coordination of mainstream services within the NDIS and the development of an implementation plan for this body of work.

 This is good news for those of you who told us in our recent survey that you wanted the NDIS to work better with other systems like health and justice. You told us you wanted an end to the finger pointing and buck passing and you expected some serious action.

But the bad news – they are still at the stage of holding working groups and coming up with implementation plans. Given that we are five years into roll out, we are way past the time for talk fests and coloured Gantt charts. People caught between systems are often in desperate circumstances and more urgent action is long overdue.

It is good news that they are finally coming up with a way to escalate cases when things go horribly wrong. Again, we are five years into roll out. See above.

The National Institute of Labour Studies (NILS) Evaluation of the NDIS was commissioned by the Commonwealth under the Intergovernmental Agreement for the NDIS Launch to provide external validation of participant experiences and outcomes. Following its consideration at today’s meeting, the Council noted the Final Evaluation Report will be released by the Commonwealth following the meeting, and agreed to continue to work to ensure the needs of older people with disability, people with psychosocial disability, intellectual disability and complex needs, or who are from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse or Indigenous backgrounds are met.

The independent evaluation will confirm what we and other people in the disability sector have been saying for a while – that while the scheme is working well for some groups, others are not faring so well. More work needs to be done to make sure the scheme meets the needs of people with a psychosocial disability, people from diverse backgrounds, and people with complex needs. Stay tuned for the report. We’ll probably need Google Translate for that too.

On 20 November 2017, the Council agreed to commence work on disability reform post-2020 and the development of a new national disability framework. This includes bringing forward the formal evaluation of the Strategy from 2021 to 2018 to strategically review the current strategy and make recommendations for a new framework. The Council agreed to the proposed approach, milestones and timeframes for developing a new national disability framework and supporting action plan for beyond-2020.

Translation – We need a new National Disability Strategy because the current one expires in 2020. We need to get onto it.

The Council discussed the Commonwealth’s updated proposed full scheme arrangements which form the basis for negotiating the new Intergovernmental Agreements for full scheme NDIS. The Council agreed to provide COAG with advice on the progress to date on full scheme arrangements, noting such agreements would be negotiated in more detail on a bilateral basis.

Translation – We are still working on what happens after roll out finishes. We’ll get back to you. Later. Much later.

The council also talked about how plans for the new Quality and Safeguard Commission were progressing, and agreed they would look at Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) at a later meeting. They also said they would keep a watchful eye on the outcomes from the Independent Pricing Review.

So … while it is good to see that some of the issues you told us were important to you have made it onto the council’s agenda, we need to keep the pressure on. We need to make sure we move from acknowledgement of problems to some real action.

If you are keen you can find the full communique on the Department of Social Services website.


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