Opinion | 22 August 2023

Independent Assessments 2.0? NDIS Review Chair Forecasts Massive Changes – check them out…

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Today the NDIS Review Chair gave us a first look at some huge changes that they want to make. In case you missed the speech by Professor Bruce Bonyhady, here is a summary:

No more line by line decisions about individual supports, but instead an overall budget level will be provided prior to planning.

How that budget will be determined is not clear. Will it be a case of independent assessments 2.0? In my Reasonable & Necessary podcast interview earlier this year, Bruce Bonyhady said:

“You can be very confident that the review will not be recommending independent assessments 2.0”

At the 21 minute mark of our interview he said:

“I was a very vocal and outspoken critic of independent assessments for a number of reasons. The way those tools were being put together was not transparent. There was no evidence that those tools were valid. There was no evidence to suggest that the people who were going to be using those tools had the necessary training or background, it was in fact part of a process that was designed to effectively automate planning and reduce the amount of time that people spent on planning”

And today Bruce provided some more information that suggested that the approach that he is proposing would be more individualised. He said it would take into account the person’s preferred living arrangements, their goals and what would be required to support them to actively participate in the community:

“Currently, the process of determining ‘reasonable and necessary supports’ start with assessing functional impairments.

This medical approach misses the point of the NDIS – which is to deliver people with disabilities the supports they need to undertake daily activities and participate in the community.

Funding should therefore be determined by the supports people need to actively participate in the community, their goals as well as their environment – things like their living arrangements should all be taken into account.”

We need more information about what is being proposed before any recommendations are formalised by the NDIS Review. We do not want round 2 of the independent assesssments debarcle. We do not want something imposed on us without our involvement or consent. Whatever is proposed, it needs to be codesigned with the disability community. It needs to be fair, and the process needs to be transparent. People who rely on the NDIS for essential support, can’t be worse off. This will take time to develop and a lot of intensive work with the disability community.

No more budgeting by Local Area Coordinators. Instead, this will be the role of the NDIA who will pay for any assessments that are needed. This is a good thing. Local Area Coordinators were always meant to be focused on community engagement and connection. I hope they can finally be allowed to do that important work.

Support for children with learning difficulties or developmental delay will be the responsibility of mainstream services, so you won’t have to apply for an NDIS package to get that support. The support will be provided by the education system or by childhood services. Shifting this responsibility to the mainstream is an admirable goal but I worry that the states and territories won’t come to the party and some children will fall through the cracks.

They want to put in place a quality and safeguarding system that covers all providers, including those that are not registered.

This last one had me scratching my head. Unregistered providers are already covered by the NDIS code of conduct and complaints can be made against all providers, including those that are not registered. I really hope that they are not planning on restricting our ability to choose unregistered providers because people with disabilities fought hard for the right to choose our supports and we aren’t going to let anyone take that away.

Stay tuned for more on that in the coming days…

What do you think of what the NDIS Review are proposing? What questions do you have? I have asked Bruce for an interview and will work hard to get the answers to your questions.

Watch this space…

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