Labor’s NDIS Reform Plan Welcomed By National Peak Disability Org

People With Disability Australia (PWDA) has welcomed a suite of Labor election commitments in relation to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), calling them “a good plan that responds well to what people with disability and our families have been calling for.”

Announced yesterday by shadow NDIS minister Bill Shorten, Labor is promising to stop unfair cuts to NDIS participants’ plans with an expert review mechanism, a review of NDIS design, operations and sustainability, and a commitment to co-design and governance principles which put people with disability at the centre of the scheme.

Labor is also committing to increasing transparency around NDIS management and data, putting more people with disability on the NDIS executive and board, lifting the NDIS staffing cap, cracking down on system rorting and developing a disability workforce strategy to address staff and service shortages, especially in regional areas.

PWDA President Samantha Connor: “At first glance, this is a very good plan and responds well to what people with disability and our families have been calling for. However there’s a lot in the plan and so it would be useful to know what the top priorities are and what the timeline is for delivering on these promises.”

Ms Connor says Labor’s commitment to an expert review mechanism is a step in the right direction. “But what we really want to see is an approach that involves problems with NDIS plans being dealt with as much as possible before having to go to an appeals process. Also, it’s important that any expert review mechanism is properly independent and doesn’t sit within government or the National Disability Insurance Agency.

“And while we would welcome the Introduction of safeguards such as the expert review mechanism which Labor is proposing, what we still need addressed is the issue of algorithms determining funding as well as the introduction of punitive operational guidelines.

“We want the next federal government to commit to is a full review of the appropriateness of using machine learning – the same system the current government used to create the RoboDebt fiasco – to decide what people’s NDIS funding outcomes will be. And we want a full review of the appropriateness of punitive operational guidelines that keep people trapped in hospitals or unable to get the support that they need.”

Ms Connor says any reform to funding for NDIS participant plans should ensure that individualised funding and self-management are protected, and that people aren’t locked in to using one model or a narrow band of providers.

“We need to make sure that NIDS participants can have their choice of service provider and that they can access supported decision making if they need to do so. We should be able to purchase the supports and services of our choice without being locked into the service sector.

“We’d also like to see providers held to more stringent quality and safeguard controls than they are at present. Fraud and dodgy practices are currently perpetrated by registered as well as unregistered providers.

“And while Labor is saying they’ll improve service provision in rural and remote areas, there’s no detail about how this will actually happen.”

Ms Connor says the cultural change that Labor is promising at the NDIA is urgently needed.

“There should be nothing about us without us and so it’s pleasing that Labor wants to ensure that more people with disability are included on the NDIA board. However, this must also be reflected across the top tiers of leadership at the NDIA, including the CEO.”

Ms Connor says Labor’s promise of an additional $10 million for disability advocacy services is also welcome. “We advocated for an increase in the lead-up to the recent budget so it’s great that Labor have listened. However, the disability advocacy sector is chronically underfunded in comparison to the need for advocacy services, so what we really require to see is a proper needs assessment and appropriate funding to meet the need.”


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