On 17 June this year, VALID issued a statement that asked the NDIS Minister, Linda Reynolds, to:
- Stop NDIS Independent Assessments
- Cancel the $339 million contracts
- Release the raw numbers and commission independent research on the NDIA’s budget
- Co-design solutions with Disability Representative Organisations, and
- Sack the NDIA CEO and replace the NDIA board.
On 9 July, after meeting with state and territory disability ministers, Minister Reynolds announced that NDIS Independent Assessments were “dead”. A month later, it was confirmed that the NDIA was cancelling the Independent Assessment contracts. VALID congratulates Minister Reynolds for listening to people with disabilities and committing to solving the problems with the Scheme.
With Independent Assessments now off the agenda, the NDIA has a golden opportunity for a reset. VALID therefore repeats its call for Minister Reynolds to restore trust in the NDIS by:
- Releasing the evidence – without the spin – and commission independent research
We absolutely agree with the NDIA that there are problems with Scheme access, planning, funding allocation, measuring participant outcomes, thin markets, tracking the effectiveness of funded supports over time, and more. But solutions will only come when we are all clear on the reasons for the problems, and we will only get there by allowing free access to the evidence. The NDIA continue to release reports that have been shaped to spin what they want us to believe. We won’t believe their analysis until we have seen the evidence.
- Resourcing the DROs to engage meaningfully in co-designing solutions
There are no easy fixes here. The Productivity Commission said that the NDIA would need to design new models of assessment precisely because the right tools don’t exist yet. Bolting together existing tools – tools that are firmly rooted in the medical not the social model of disability – will not work. The NDIA needs to figure out how to measure ordinary life outcomes, not simply whether a participant’s functional impairment has changed. They will need help from resourced Disability Representative Organisations and independent experts to do it and a commitment to fund long-term research projects to get it right.
- Replacing the leadership of the NDIA with people with an understanding of, and a genuine commitment to, the principles of person-centred practice
People with disabilities and their families have lost trust and confidence in the NDIA Board who, together with the senior leadership of the NDIA:
- Pushed ahead with Independent Assessments despite widespread opposition
- Ignored and misrepresented credible experts
- Entered into expensive contracts before community consultation, and
- Avoided external scrutiny.
- To renew confidence in the governance of the Scheme, the NDIA needs to be led by people with a deep understanding of disability and a commitment to truly person-centred practice. It is time to find and appoint such people to the key leadership positions.
This Friday, 13 August 2021, Minister Reynolds will meet with the state and territory disability ministers to talk about the changes the government wants to make to the NDIS legislation. The states and territories should be wary of demands that they concede on the Scheme’s fundamentals, particularly changes that aim to cap funding by subverting the meaning of ‘reasonable and necessary’ or that give the NDIS Minister unilateral powers.
Across the country, people with disabilities and their families will be watching.
Kevin Stone AM
VALID Advocacy Manager
Phone | 0407 008 859