Our submissions to the NDIS
Over the last seven years the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has fundamentally changed how Australians with a disability get access to the supports they need. The NDIS has been life-changing for many. In the Down syndrome community, people have been able to use their supports to find work, start their own businesses, move out of home or to assist them in developing their connections to the community. At the centre of the success of NDIS is that it provides people with individualised support and the flexibility to use these supports in a way that helps them to achieve their own goals.
The NDIS is not perfect, and as advocates we are constantly working with the NDIA on how the implementation can be refined to better support people with a disability, and in particular people with Down syndrome. But we are very fortunate to have a system that is focused on choice and control and supporting people to meet their own goals.
The Government has now proposed a series of very fundamental changes to the NDIS, including the introduction of Independent Assessments. They have argued that these Assessments will make the scheme fairer and more equitable. They want to ensure people do not get access to more support just because they are better at advocating for their own needs.
In principle this makes sense. It is hard to argue against creating a system that is fairer and where access to supports does not depend on your ability to advocate or make a case about the support you need.
But the reality is much more complex. There are no structured assessments that will provide you with sufficient information to make complex decisions about what supports a person with a disability may need. By removing human judgement and creating a more systematic approach to funding decisions, we risk losing the parts of the NDIS that have made it effective – being centered on the individual.
Imagine there are two people with Down syndrome of approximately the same age and similar outcomes on a functional assessment. One person is living happily in a granny flat on their parent’s property. They are happy receiving the same level of supports as they had in the previous year. The other person wants to move out of home in the next 12 months and has clear goals around developing new skills for independence. Under the new system, these two people will likely be given the same level of support for the next 12 months, despite having very different goals and needs. This cookie-cutter approach simply will not work.
The NDIS has told us not to worry, and that the assessments will take into account a range of factors including people’s circumstances. But it does worry us that the link between package amounts and independent assessments has not been tested, has not been consulted on, and is not publicly available. The current Independent Assessment pilot asks about people’s experience with the Assessment, but it does not let them know what their funding would be under the new system or check with them that that level of funding would make sense for them given their current needs and goals.
Down Syndrome Australia strongly supports action to create a fair and equitable NDIS. We just are not convinced that Independent Assessments are the solution. We fear it will strip away the individualised approach that has been so fundamental to the success of the Scheme.
Until there is adequate testing and consultation on how Independent Assessments and funding are linked, we will remain concerned.
Today DSA provided two submissions to the NDIS on the Early Childhood reset and the Independent Assessments.
You can read our submissions here:
Submission on Independent Assessments
Submission on ECEI Reset
You can also read more about the Independent Assessments at the NDIA website.