Opinion | 15 May 2023

Budget 2023 with Minister Shorten & How the NDIS Is Changing… In Plain(ish) English

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Minister Shorten & Dr George talking in our offices. George is surrounded by plants. Bill's office could do with some.

Is the government putting a cap on the NDIS? Are our plans going to be cut?  Will it be more difficult to get onto the NDIS? These are

Is the government putting a cap on the NDIS?

Are our plans going to be cut? 

Will it be more difficult to get onto the NDIS?

These are the questions that people with disabilities and our families across the country have been asking.

The Minister for the NDIS Bill Shorten, is the best person to answer them. So a day after the Federal Budget, I interviewed him for my Reasonable & Necessary Podcast.

You can check out the full interview here.

It is a Target Not a Cap

Minister Shorten said that the NDIS remains uncapped and that the 8% growth target is just that, a target, not a cap. He stressed that the NDIS remains an uncapped and  demand-driven Scheme. That means that the spending can go above the target, but they will be trying to achieve it with some big changes coming our way.

The government will spend $720 million to make changes that it believes will result in $74 billion worth of savings. It believes that these reforms will be enough to get the growth target to under 8% by 2026.

What Changes Can We Expect?

Changes in planning – the government is promising better and more transparent (clearer) decision-making processes, more training for planners and less frequent plan reviews when they are not needed. Planners will be more specialised and some planners will focus on working with specific groups such as people with disabilities stuck in the hospital or in nursing homes.

More support to use your funding – we are told that we will get more support when we get our funding to make sure that we understand our plans and our budgets. The government believes that this will reduce the amount of overspending. I’m not sure it will, but more support to understand your plan is definitely a good thing.

Prove that works or it won’t get funded – the government does not want to pay for things that have not been scientifically proven to be effective, so they will set up expert panels to decide what gets funded. This may affect access to funding for participants accessing less traditional supports like art, music or animal therapy. So if you access these kinds of therapies, be prepared to prove that they do if you want to access them with your NDIS funding

Payment for outcomes – there will be a trial of what they are calling “blended payments”. This means that providers will get paid bonuses for achieving a predetermined outcome or goal. For example, for finding someone a job, or getting someone out of hospital or out of a nursing home.

Help to access mainstream housing – more support will be available from the NDIS to look for housing in the mainstream market. This might include help filling out housing applications and finding affordable and accessible housing.

“Preferred provider” arrangements – The government will do deals with providers of commonly purchased products so they can help us find the cheapest providers and push the prices down. Some examples might be continence aids, beds and shower chairs.

First Nations pilot – the current way of providing support often doesn’t meet the needs of people living in aboriginal communities, so the government will work with these communities to find  better ways of delivering support.

A commitment to codesign – the government has promised to work with people with disabilities to implement these changes. This is important if the government is going to deliver on its commitment to ensure people with disabilities are at the centre of the NDIS.

What Happens Now?

I will be working closely alongside other disability leaders, the National Disability Insurance Agency and the government to make sure that the new reforms to the NDIS result in the best possible outcomes for NDIS participants. We all need to be alert to any changes that cut packages or restrict our choices. We must continue to hold the government to its promise of an uncapped NDIS where people with disabilities are entitled to reasonable and necessary support, and choice and control over our lives.

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