“If you have a significant and permanent disability which has an impact on your functioning, you will be in the NDIS. If you have developmental delay, which could be supported by another means of support other than an individual packaged, you will get what you need. For me this is all about what the people need, not about trying to fit them around a process.”

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten in tabling the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Getting the NDIS Back on Track No. 1) Bill 2024, said it would enable new and expanded rule and instrument-making powers. These rules, together with all legislative instruments provided for in the Bill will be developed with all states and territories following consultation with the disability community.

“The legislation is only the first step in this process, there remains an enormous amount of work to do together to implement the reforms. This Bill is the next part of our journey towards an improved NDIS and is the first step in responding to the NDIS Review findings,” he said.

A critical element of design and development following passage of this Bill will be a person-centred model for needs assessment that will deliver consistency and equity for planning decisions. This change will not take effect until design is done and new rules are made, and transition will take time.

It involves reforming the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act of 2013 (NDIS Act) that has four goals:

  • that the NDIS provide a better experience for participants
  • that the Scheme be restored to its original intent to support people with significant and permanent disability
  • that the Scheme be equitable
  • and that the Scheme be sustainable.

The Bill has two parts. One section lays the foundations for implementing key Review recommendations, particularly those around planning and budget setting. “Once you are in the scheme, you will get a plan based on your support needs. We all want a more dignified, person-centred process that assesses needs to determine a consistent, accurate and fair budget, and the budget can be spent flexibly. This starts with a needs assessment that we will work on with the disability sector to make sure we get it right,” the minister said.

Reasonable and necessary remains the core basis on which support needs are met through the Scheme. This Bill proposes no changes to the ‘reasonable and necessary’ core operating principle. Needs assessment will look at individual support needs as a whole and won’t distinguish between primary and secondary disabilities. If over time support needs change, because of a significant change in function, information can be updated with a new support needs assessment.

“The result will be a budget for disability supports that are fit for you; that reflects the support needs for your disability. You can spend this budget flexibly in line with your own support needs, but everyone will need to manage their NDIS budget. We will be clear about what supports can and can’t be funded by the NDIS to help you make informed choices and have confidence you are using your NDIS funds within what is allowed.

“How these changes will be implemented will be developed with people with disability and the disability sector,” he said.  

The second section of the Bill is about scheme sustainability and the minister confirmed psychosocial disability is still included in the NDIS and autism is still recognised as a disability.

The Bill also includes amendments to quality and safeguarding, providing greater flexibility for the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner in exercising compliance powers and building on comprehensive fraud reforms.  “We will consider more work on quality and safety once we have the report of the NDIS Provider and Worker Registration Taskforce, led by lawyer and disability advocate, Natalie Wade.”

The NDIS Review and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability made recommendations on the scope and powers of the Commission, and these are still being considered by the Government.

For more information on the bill, visit dss.gov.au/NDISreforms. More information about the NDIS Review is available on the Department of Social Services website.