Authorities’s NDIS impartial assessments strategy overwhelmingly slammed in parliamentary submissions

According to an analysis by SBS News that turned in hundreds of submissions to a parliamentary inquiry, there is fierce opposition to independent NDIS assessments coming not only from the disability community but also from legal groups, medical institutions, state governments and others .

Of the more than 240 written submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance System Inquiry into independent reviews read by SBS News, the vast majority opposed, expressed concern, or raised criticism of the proposed contentious reforms.

It emerges from what has been said that there are also significant concerns outside the disability sector, which have essentially come to an agreement against the reforms since they were announced in August last year.

Contributions from outside the disability community expressing concerns and opposition have come from representatives of the Australian Medical Association, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, and the Queensland and Northern Territory governments.

Migrant advocacy groups, Aboriginal organizations, domestic violence prevention organizations, health professionals, parents and grandparents of NDIS participants, and a past chairman of the National Disability Insurance Agency who compared the reforms to “robo-planning” also have critical issues Opinions given.

The small number of contributions that did not raise material concerns or criticisms included the State Department of Social Services, which was co-filed with the NDIA, and former NDIA board member John Walsh.

The posts address a number of recurring themes including concerns about a lack of real consultation and transparency, the need for invasive interviewing of vulnerable people by strangers, the one-size-fits-all model being culturally inadequate, and The Changes that undermine the principles of selection and control on which the NDIS is built.

Under the currently proposed process, participants and potential participants would be assessed by a government-appointed healthcare professional.

Using standardized tools, the auditor asked them personal questions and asked them to complete certain tasks before making a decision about their eligibility for the NDIS and the support they would receive.

The government and NDIA have repeatedly stated that assessments are a simpler and fairer way to measure an individual’s capacity while supporting more equitable decisions about access to systems.

Several existing NDIS participants wishing to submit comments said they did not necessarily mind undergoing a job evaluation, but had concerns as suggested here.

“It just won’t work”

People With Disability Australia President Samantha Connor said the analysis shows further consensus that the government’s current approach has few supporters.

“Lawyers are by our side, clinicians are by our side because … they see the struggles we’re going through just to get what we need from a system that isn’t working now, and they know it [independent assessments as proposed] is going to be devastating to so many people and it’s just not going to work, ”she said.

PWDA was part of an industry-wide disability statement in March calling for ratings to be removed and redesigned.

“I think I can say that most of the people I know who are disabled people and their family members may now be at one of the lowest points we’ve ever been to,” said Ms. Connor.

The Independent Assessment Research has received by far the largest number of submissions submitted to date by the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS.

The official deadline for submissions was March 31, although new submissions have been uploaded online several times a week since then.

Green Senator Jordon Steele-John said he had never seen such concern in his four years on the committee.

“This is the most overwhelming response we have ever received. It is almost unprecedented and speaks to the concern that exists in the disabled community, ”he said.

He accused the government of “not caring about the views of disabled people” by pushing reforms in the face of backlash.

“We have heard story after story from people who have spoken to the committee and gone through court cases where this has been said [the process] … Harms people, ”he said.

The evaluations are carried out in “some form”.

NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said Tuesday that she had heard the “concern and concern” about the proposed ratings but was still determined to implement them in some form.

She also said she believed the program currently “relies too heavily on the judgment of individual officials and also on their natural empathy”.

Senator Reynolds had previously announced a pause in reforms to allow the government to review feedback from an ongoing pilot program, which raised hopes among supporters that the policy could be scrapped.

The NDIA was grilled last year in Senate estimates about the integrity of a previous pilot’s results.

The federal government pledged $ 13.2 billion to NDIS in last week’s federal budget over the next four years, which also predicts the support covered by the program would cost $ 31.9 billion in 2024-25.

The government has stated in recent weeks that the NDIS is growing much faster than originally projected, and independent assessments would help keep the system sustainable over the long term.

However, 2017 estimates by the Productivity Commission contradict the notion that there was no warning that NDIS costs would reach such levels. The system is projected to cost more than $ 30 billion by 2024-25.

In a statement, Senator Reynolds said she had “really and transparently consulted all stakeholders on all issues before finalizing proposals.”

“My priority is building a sustainable, durable and fair NDIS for generations to come,” she said.

“The federal government allocated an additional $ 17 billion to the program in the last two budgets. This shows that the federal, state and territories must work together to cope with the rising costs of protecting their future. “

The NDIA announced the eight companies it had contracted to conduct the assessments in February, just days after a three-month consultation period ended, raising questions about how committed the agency actually was during the consultation.

The concept of independent ratings was recommended in an independent review of the NDIS Act in 2019 – known as the Tune Review – and by the Productivity Commission at the beginning of the program.

However, documents received last month under the Freedom of Information Act indicated that the government had added a chapter on independent assessments to the Tune review that was used as a rationale for introducing it.

It was announced two weeks ago that a scientist had written to the NDIA to request that it no longer be “selectively misquoted” to make it appear like it supported the agency’s approach to evaluations. Two other scientists have come forward to “contextualize” the comments the NDIA has used since then.

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