Minister Stuart Roberts fronted the National Press Club this afternoon, announcing a plan to deliver the final 20% of the NDIS and “set it up for future success.”
There was a lot of talk about the progress the government has already made. But, significantly more interestingly, there was also some promises of changes to come with some major changes on the horizon.
The proposed plan has 6 “swim lanes”. These are:
1. QUICKER ACCESS AND QUALITY DECISION MAKING
The NDIA seem to have got the memo that people are not too happy about waiting times. The Minister announced:
Improved Planning Processes: From April 2020, the NDIA will roll out “joint planning” processes, where LACs will work together with NDIA Planners (who actually have the authority to approve plans). As part of this process, Participants should also be provided with a draft copy of their plan before it’s approved. They will continue to roll out Participants having a single point of contact for the entire Planning process. More controversially, they also want to expand the number of Participants with longer than 12 month Plans.
Easier plan reviews: Potential changes to the NDIS Act may allow Participants to make small changes to their Plan without triggering a full Plan Review.
Capital approval process improvements: More measures to address the assistive technology and home modifications debacle will be announced in the coming financial year
2. INCREASED ENGAGEMENT AND COLLABORATION
This “lane” seems to targetted at addressing inequality in the NDIS. The main new measure is the expansion of the Community Connectors program, including:
New community connectors for CALD and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in urban and rural settings
Support for ageing carers through a virtual community connector support service and referral pathway established via the existing Carer Gateway.
3. MARKET INNOVATION AND IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY
APIs: The NDIA is working on developing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that would make it easier for businesses and software providers to link their systems into the NDIA’s.
A “Digital Market Service”: whatever that is?
An NDIS Workforce Strategy to be released mid 2020.
4. A FINANCIALLY SUSTAINABLE SCHEME
The Minister here seems to acknowledge that the NDIS will not be sustainable if it operates as an “oasis in the desert,” without other disability support and inclusive mainstream programs to complement it. However, there is little in the way of solid promises. Other than THAT the Disability Reform Council (DRC) will now meet every 90 days, and they promise to sort out the transport issues soon.
5. EQUITABLE AND CONSISTENT DECISIONS
Here is where it actually gets interesting. The Minister announced:
Budget fungibility: From 1 July 2020, the NDIA is planning to remove the distinction between Core and Capacity Building funds, so that Participants can use their Plans flexibly! No further information on how that will work is available at this stage.
Independent Assessment Pilot: The NDIA has been piloting a new approach to assessments for planning and access, where participants see an independent assessor referred by the NDIA. They are continuing to expand this program, recommencing it in Nepean Blue Mountains from later this month.
6. IMPROVE LONG TERM OUTCOMES
This point mostly covers measures that have already been announced, including the new Employment Strategy, changes to SDA and the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Action Plan. But the Minister did say that they are looking to allow people to live in SDA properties, with family or housemates that are not SDA eligible.