The disabled community complains about an alleged lack of transparency in the reforms of the National Disability Insurance System (NDIS) proposed by the federal government.
The NDIS was co-designed, said Dougie Herd, chairman of the ACT Disability Reference Group, “When it was designed and built a decade ago, the government consulted people with disabilities, authorities, and state and territory governments for two years. But this time they say they were left in the dark.
“All the evidence shows us that the government kept these changes secret for as long as possible, that they didn’t begin to share information in a meaningful way until the members of the community got angry and made noise about it,” said Mr. Herd .
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Bec Cody, CEO of the Mental Health Community Coalition ACT, said the federal government has not been open and advisory. She didn’t know what the pilot results or the planned costs were. She wasn’t sure about the assessment tools and the categorization process. In fact, she found out more through the media than from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) or the government.
Even politicians seem not to have been informed. Emma Davidson, ACT minister for disability, said she had raised significant concerns about independent assessments on several occasions with her colleagues in the Commonwealth, but that neither current nor past NDIA federal ministers had resolved these issues.
Ms. Davidson said the NDIA needs to provide Commonwealth and State and Territory Ministers with a clear understanding of the results obtained through independent assessments versus other approaches.
Ms. Davidson, Advocacy for Inclusion, and other stakeholders have urged NDIS Minister Senator Linda Reynolds to return to the principles of co-design, sit down and consult. Both Ms. Cody and Mr. Herd said they wanted to work with the NDIA and the federal government to make the NDIS as good as possible.
Are the NDIS reforms cost-saving?
Senator Reynolds recently told the parliamentary committee that the NDIS is unsustainable. It grew 12% each year, and the plan payments increased 50% between 2017 and 2020.
Senator Reynolds denied that the independent ratings were cuts by the NDIA. The government has invested $ 17 billion more in forecasting in the last two budgets and increased its share of investment in NDIS to 61% by 2024/25 to add another 80,000 participants.
Mr. Herd disagreed that the NDIA was not sustainable. “The minister is completely wrong, and the minister changes history too,” he said.
Initially, he explained, there was talk of independent assessments only for better tailored results. Now the government said the main driver of independent ratings is reconfiguration of spending to prevent future blowouts of the system as it has outgrown expectations. According to Herd, the NDIS grew as expected and inexpensively.
“The NDIS is a triumph for Australia, a triumph,” he said. “If you weren’t around 12 or 15 years ago and you didn’t know how terribly bad many of the support systems for people with disabilities were, it’s hard to see how much the NDIS is improving.
“The Commonwealth Government and the Chief Executive of the National Disability Insurance Agency are about to make what I believe to be a catastrophic big mistake. It is their proposals that endanger the national disability insurance system, not as it is currently organized and developed. And we want to help improve this. We don’t want to go back to what was before. “
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