Tuesday 1st of December 2020

more than seven years in the making-ish...


Advocates are welcoming substantial changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which they believe will make the system quicker and easier to navigate. 


Key points:
  • The new reforms follow an independent review of the NDIS last year
  • Advocates say enacting the review's recommendations will make the scheme easier to access
  • 100,000 new participants have signed up to the NDIS in the past 12 months


Only 400,000 Australians are signed up to the NDIS, despite 4.4 million living with a disability. 

There is now hope these new reforms, announced by the Federal Government on Friday, will grow the number of people signed up to the scheme. 

An independent review of the NDIS last year made 29 recommendations which the Government has announced it is supporting, either wholly or in principle. 

Kirsten Deane, from grassroots organisation Every Australian Counts, said many of the recommendations were simple and practical measures that the sector had long called for.

"They are really important things like setting timeframes for key NDIS processes so people know how long it's going to take to assess their applications for the scheme or how long it would take for them to get NDIS funding or a review," she said. 

"There's a lot of jargon in the NDIS, and so it's good to see a commitment that they are going to strip some of that back." 

The Federal Government wanted these measures implemented earlier but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minster for the NDIS Stuart Robert said.

"The Government had intended to get this out a lot earlier but then our focus turned to supporting people with a disability as part of the national response, so that of course has held it up," he said. 

In the last 12 months, 100,000 new participants enrolled in the scheme. 

As part of the changes, the Government is committing an extra $20 million to a program to better engage with migrant and Indigenous communities. 

"We're literally going out into rural and remote and culturally and linguistically diverse communities and looking for people we can serve," Mr Robert said. 

"Six point four per cent of the scheme now are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and 9.2 per cent are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those numbers will increase over the next 12 months."


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The NDIS was PM Julia Gillard initiative, 2013... Then the CONservative ningnongs came along, promising to stick to the program, but they — Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morisson — made it so complicated that it became more deadly than a mine-field in WW2... or worse than a sack of rotten potatoes...

‘squalid and appalling’...

A federal investigation into the death of Adelaide woman Ann Marie Smith has recommended the National Disability Insurance Scheme Commission act earlier to identify Australians with disabilities who are vulnerable to harm or neglect.

Ms Smith died on April 6 from septic shock, multi-organ failure, severe pressure sores, malnutrition and issues connected with her cerebral palsy after being stuck in a cane chair for 24 hours a day in her Kensington Park home.

Her death prompted multiple inquiries, including by a state taskforce and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, which appointed former judge Alan Robertson to lead an independent review.

He found Ms Smith – an NDIS participant – died “after a substantial period of neglect, having been living in squalid and appalling circumstances”.

Mr Robertson considered the NDIS response to the case, and whether steps were taken fast enough to “ban Ms Smith’s sole carer, [Rosa] Maione, from working in the disability sector at all”.

He made 10 recommendations, including that vulnerable NDIS participant should have multiple carers, and that the commission should consider forming its own community visitor scheme to monitor such people.

The report found there were not any “significant failings” by the NDIS in response to the death but urged the commission to act earlier to identify people with disabilities “who are vulnerable to harm or neglect”.

“No vulnerable NDIS participant should have a sole carer providing services in the participant’s own home,” the report stated.

“For each vulnerable NDIS participant, there should be a specific person with overall responsibility for that participant’s safety and wellbeing.”

The report found that the commission relies on the disability care organisations it regulates to inform it about participants.

It identified “a number of structural impediments to the commission acting earlier”, including an “inability to access participant data in real-time” and reliance on the care providers.

Mr Robertson argued the commission should have access to more information about participants.

“The commission’s access to that information, and its ability to assess it and to take proactive action, should not depend on ad hoc responses by providers, on complaints and on reportable incidents,” his report said.


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