Independent Assessments Process Ceased
On 7 July 2021 the NDIA released a range of documents regarding Independent Assessments (IAs) including:
The NDIA’s interim report discussed feedback they had received from participants within the pilot between 25 November 2019 to 31 May 2021.
3759 participants were part of the second IA pilot, across a range of ages and diagnoses. 116 of pilot participants responded to the feedback survey, 53 of whom were participants and 63 of whom were support persons. The NDIA felt that the feedback received based upon their survey questions was generally positive, but acknowledged several limitations.
The IAC report stated that they disagreed with Independent Assessors and recommended that they did not proceed in their current form. They also advised that the sector has expressed significant concerns regarding an erosion of trust in the NDIA and the scheme itself.
They identified the following persistent challenges for participants:
- unfulfilled commitments by individual Local Area Coordinators (LACs)
- staff turnover
- frequent, inconsistent and poorly communicated policy and guideline changes
- reasons for the reduction in plan budget not understood
- participants funded into group homes despite policy intent of less restricted alternatives
- wait times for assistive technology; and
- adversarial responses to reviews and appeals.
The IAC report called for genuine co-design between the NDIA and the sector, specifically that the Minister should release draft legislation affecting access and planning with a minimum of 8 weeks consultation time.
Additionally they made several other recommendations around personalised budgets, provider practice, the NDIA relationship with the disability sector. The IAC made specific recommendations for the government regarding the scheme as a whole, including how it is funded, and the National Disability Strategy.
The NDIA responded to this report that they supported the IAC’s recommendations and that “We agree that independent assessments should not proceed in the form used in the second pilot. We will strengthen relationships with the disability community by continuing to test and refine the approach to assessment and the design of the proposed personalised budgets model.”
On 9 July the Minister for the NDIS met with the disability ministers from each state and territory regarding the suggested changes to planning and access to the NDIS. It was subsequently decided that as the state and territory disability ministers did not support the IA process, independent assessments would not be going ahead in their current form. See Minister Meeting Press Release 9 July for further information and Ministers' Comminique for further information.
The Association is very pleased that the Disability Sector was able to advocate for this positive outcome, led by disability organisations and advocates. The focus now will be on ensuring that both participants and allied health professionals have an authentic voice in improving Scheme access and sustainability.