NDIS overhaul put forward in review

What is the NDIS? An independent review of the disability support system suggested a raft of changes to address persisting problems.
what is the ndis

An independent review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has made 26 recommendations to create a more sustainable, functional support system for Australians with disability.

Authors of the review say it provides the Government with a blueprint to “renew the promise” of the NDIS to people with disability.

What is the NDIS?

The NDIS provides necessary support and services for Australians with permanent and significant disability. It offers access to community services, such as doctors, and assistance for necessary support, such as vehicle modifications.

It was launched in 2013 and completely rolled out by 2020. There are now over 610,000 Australians who receive support from the NDIS.

NDIS issues

The Government launched the review in October 2022. It followed widespread concerns about deteriorating support for NDIS recipients.

The function and sustainability of the NDIS were two key concerns held by the Government. This includes reports about the presence of unethical providers, who are allegedly overcharging recipients for ineffective or unnecessary support.

The unexpected costs of the NDIS were also a concern. This has forced the Government to limit planned funding to the program. They estimate this will save $75 billion over the next 10 years.

What are the recommendations?

The review found the current system was difficult to navigate and didn’t actively encourage high-quality services.

It made 26 recommendations with 139 supporting actions, to be implemented over five years.

The first recommendation was that the NDIS should not be the sole source of disability support in Australia. It recommended the NDIS form part of a bigger system of connected disability services.

To do this, it recommended investing in “foundational supports” that are available to all people with a disability and exist outside of the NDIS’ individualised budgets. It said this will reduce the inequity between people in the NDIS and those who are not.

Spending flexibility

Another recommendation was to allow greater flexibility in how participants of the NDIS can spend their budget, with minimal exceptions. It recommended adopting a “trust-based approach” to overseeing how budgets are spent.

The report also recommended that the process of applying for the NDIS should prioritise those with “significant functional impairment and need” over a medical diagnosis. It said the current system has led to inequity because it had favoured only “those with means to obtain a diagnosis”.

The report also recommended actively monitoring issues about the quality of service providers in the NDIS. It said “highest quality service providers should be rewarded and low-quality services providers must improve”.

A new pricing and payment framework with methods that incentivise high-quality services among providers was also suggested in the review.

Federal Government response

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said a full Government response will be released next year, following further consultation with the disability community over the coming months.

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten said on Thursday: “This is a significant moment in Australian history, particularly for people with disability and their families… It is important that Australians understand changes are not going to happen overnight.”

Opposition response

Shadow NDIS Minister Michael Sukkar said whilst the Opposition is committed to ensuring the NDIS “operates sustainably and effectively”, the review “has left many questions unanswered and stones unturned”.

Sukkar added: “Participants also remain in the dark on what the new ‘Foundational Supports’ will look like, whether these will ever be comparable to the NDIS, and when these supports will commence.”

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