Productivity Commission finding to delay NDIS rollout is the right cal

19th Oct 2017

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed the Productivity Commission’s call to delay the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), saying that there are concerns about the pace of the scheme’s implementation.

The Productivity Commission report, released today, found that the NDIS participant intake was behind schedule and would come under additional pressure in the future.  It also found that there are fundamental problems with the planning process by which participants’ supports are being decided.

‘The reality is that the current timetable for participant intake will not be met,’ the report said. ‘Governments need to recognise that the scheme has major flaws and reset the rollout timeframe to allow remediation to occur.  The NDIA need to start planning now for a changed timetable, including working through the financial implications’.

ALA spokesperson Rod Hodgson said that delaying the rollout of the NDIS would result in a better-designed and implemented scheme.

“We welcome the Productivity Commission report. Our submission highlighted that the continued rollout of the NDIS needs to be delayed until any concerns regarding participant intake, workforce planning, review protocol and access to advocacy and legal support are resolved,” Mr Hodgson said.

“It is important to ensure that every dollar is spent where it is needed, and is not wasted on procedures or treatments that don’t do the job.”

Mr Hodgson also welcomed the report’s finding that for ‘types of disability that require specialist knowledge (such as psychosocial disability), there should be specialised planning teams and/or more use of industry knowledge and expertise’.

“NDIA workers making treatment plans should have an adequate level of understanding of the participants’ conditions,” Mr Hodgson said. “Establishing teams with specialist knowledge in specific types of disability would ensure that participants feel better understood and will likely result in plans that better meet the needs of participants.”

“The NDIS’s lack of any meaningful workforce planning was also recognised by the report.  We agree that the disability workforce will not be ready for the current rollout timeframe, and that urgent action is needed.  However, we don’t agree that a change in immigration policies should occur to plug the workforce gaps.  Our submission made clear the dangers of poorly skilled and trained people dealing with those with complex needs; and the last thing we need is a diluting of the quality of carers.”

ALA’s submission to the Productivity Commission’s report also made a number of other recommendations:

  • Restricting the NIIS to existing motor vehicle and workplace injuries.
  • Participants must be adequately notified of their appointment to make a plan sufficiently in advance, including the nature of the appointment.
  • The changes within the disability sector workforce as a result of the NDIS need to be managed to ensure that workers’ rights are protected. Secure contracts and stringent health and safety requirements will minimise staff turnover and associated costs, and should be mandated by government regulation.
  • Participants should have access to advocates as needed and payment of their legal costs when disputing NDIA decisions
  • Services for people living with disability who will not qualify for the NDIS or otherwise are not engaged in the Scheme must remain available. To defund these services while they are still needed will put costs pressures on the NDIS and other services

Tags: NDIS