Former NDIS chairman slams adjustments to help scheme as ‘robo-planning’ and ‘a shame’

Former National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) chairman Bruce Bonyhady described changes to the support system as “shame” that should be abandoned immediately before they cause more unnecessary problems.

Important points:

  • The federal government wants to change the way people are rated for the NDIS
  • In a parliamentary inquiry, former NDIS chairman Bruce Bonyhady said the changes would “fundamentally damage” the system
  • Kristin O’Connell, who has autism, said she was “afraid” of the plans

Speaking on Friday during a parliamentary inquiry into major reforms of the NDIS, Mr Bonyhady called the proposed independent assessments “robo-planning” which would “fundamentally damage” the system.

He was the first to witness a one-day hearing in Melbourne held by the Joint Standing Committee on NDIS.

“It is not just the current participants and their families who should be concerned and angry about what the government and the NDIA have planned,” Bonyhady told the investigation.

“All Australians should be very concerned about robo-planning as it will tear the social contract at the heart of the NDIS.”

The introduction of independent assessments was announced in August last year.

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The introduction of independent assessments was announced last August and would result in changes in the way people are classified as suitable for the program and how they are funded.

It would involve a three hour meeting with an allied healthcare professional, unknown to the applicant, whose job it is to determine that person’s skills and requirements.

A second pilot of independent assessments began in October and currently has more than 6,000 participants.

Mr Bonyhady said people with disabilities need to have “pride and confidence” in the system, but the “relationship” has hit “new lows”.

“The NDIS and the government need to get back to the drawing board.

“These proposed reforms completely undermine the vision of the NDIS and, as a result, have caused tremendous fear and anger among people with disabilities, their families and carers.”

“Afraid” of independent reviews

Experienced people also gave evidence to the committee that they were “afraid” of independent reviews.

Kristin O’Connell, who has autism, collapsed after telling the exam about her fears of being traumatized again after a battle over a diagnosis and proof of her disability.

“Nothing about independent reviews is positive for a person like me,” she said.

“It’s not fair to treat us as a burden.”

Kristin O'ConnellKristin O’Connell gave the investigation evidence that she was afraid of independent reviews.

ABC News: Patrick Stone


Ms. O’Connell said it was like independent reviews discriminating against people like her with “invisible” disabilities.

In a statement, new NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said she “disagrees” with Mr. Bonyhady’s “characterization of independent assessments” as “robo-planning”.

“NDIS access and scheduling decisions are made by people and any other proposal is imprecise,” she said.

Ms. Reynolds said she welcomed the committee’s investigation and looked forward to reading its findings.

“I will only complete the implementation of independent assessments after the process has been completed and I met again with state and territory ministers in July.”

Last week, Ms. Reynolds announced that she would be suspending the introduction of ratings.

She said she was “passionate” about the program and wanted it to last “for generations to come.”

The government has always maintained that independent assessments are an integral part of the system and ensure that the system is fair and equitable for all people with disabilities.

The Joint Standing Committee investigation will hold further hearings on the matter in Hobart, Perth and Canberra next month.

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