Kymberly Martin
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NDIS readies for final rollout

The final stage of the NDIS is set to rollout with a plan in place to deliver what NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said will put the scheme onto a “business as usual even keel for the long term”.

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Speaking recently at the National Press Club in Canberra the minister said while the NDIS is having a profound effect on the lives of people with disability he admitted the scheme has not always lived up to high expectations. “We are about 80 per cent there and the last 20 per cent is often the hardest.”

As well as changes to participant plans, (See previous story), another key priority is to tackle the time it takes to approve assistive technology (AT) and home modifications with new procedure and processes that started in October. The remaining AT backlog is expected to be addressed by the end of December 2019 and home modifications by the end of March 2020.

The minister also announced the NDIS Employment Strategy that is intended to guide the activities of the NDIA over the next three years to help achieve its goal of 30 per cent of participants in paid work by 2023. He will shortly implement further recommendations to allow Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) eligible participants to live in shared housing arrangement with family or friends that are not SDA eligible.

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While the number of younger people entering residential aged care has decreased by 22 per cent in the June quarter 2017 to the June quarter 2019, the minister acknowledged the number was still too high.

“Earlier this year the government released a Younger People in Residential Aged Care Action Plan. Implementing this plan in consultation with states and territories, including our ongoing reforms to the SDA market and fixing the interface between the NDIS and the health system will help contribute to bringing this down further. However, the government remains open to any recommendations that will be made by the Aged Care Royal Commission on this issue,” he said. “We are actively seeking to do more and exceed the targets set in the Action Plan.”

Responding to the minister’s speech, NDS CEO, David Moody said: “We are pleased the minister has heard us in regard to a number of issues we have raised with his office and the NDIA”. He also welcomed the announcement of improved plan flexibility, but wanted to ensure providers are not required to reinsert all service bookings in a plan every time it changes.

“The minister has acknowledged the issues the sector has been raising for some time now regarding the inadequacy of ILC funding, but again, we’ll look forward to seeing the detail.”

Moody said while confirmation that a national NDIS Workforce Strategy will be finalised and ready for roll-out by mid-2020, it was imperative that disability service providers, which employ that workforce, and NDS, are engaged and influential in the national conversation about the strategy and what it will deliver.

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