What are said to be the most significant package of reforms to the NDIS since its inception has been announced.
The reforms, that include implementation of the government response to the 2019 independent review of the NDIS Act (Tune Review) and the new NDIS Participant Service Guarantee, are intended to provide people with a permanent and significant disability more choice and control over a flexible support package.
Announcing the changes, NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said the government supports, in principle, all of the recommendations of the Tune Review. Over the next six months, in line with public health advice, the government will work in collaboration with people with disability and the disability sector to implement these reforms, including consultation on any legislative changes required.
The National Disability Insurance Agency has released two new documents. The Participant Service Charter outlines how the NDIA will better serve participants and the time frames it will meet. And the Participant Service Improvement Plan, which sets out the practical changes that the agency will make over the next year to improve the participant experience and put in place how the NDIA will deliver on the Participant Service Guarantee. These reforms set new service standards and clear timeframes for decision making by the NDIA, making it is easier for participants and their families to navigate the NDIS.
“While the new PSG will be set into law next year, we will deliver improvements to participants now. The latest Quarterly Report highlights significant improvements in the time taken for participants to access the scheme, develop a plan and undertake reviews,” the minister said.
New independent assessments that collect information about individual supports needs, fully paid by the NDIS, will be progressively rolled out. The minister said he would ensure people with disability “have a seat at the table when it comes to implementing these reforms.”
The latest Quarterly Report shows there have been improvements in waiting times and the clearing of backlogs. In June 2020, access decisions on average took 10 days, four times faster than 12 months ago and six days for children 0-6 years old, seven times faster than 12 months ago.
The average number of days to receive a first plan is 67 days which is 50 per cent lower than 12 months ago while wait times for children are even lower at 42 days.
The government’s formal response to the Tune Review can be found at: www.dss.gov.au