As a person with a disability I was excited when I first heard of the NDIS. The notion that we would finally have voice, choice and control over our support services was liberating. The NDIS promised we would have support to fulfil our goals and to participate as citizens. I felt as though a new day had dawned!
However, the implementation of NDIS ideals hasn’t exactly come to fruition.
Due to this, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has designed a new NDIS pathway.
New and improved NDIS pathway?
A central feature of the new pathway is that NDIS planning meetings will be conducted face to face as opposed to over the phone.
The new pathway plan will include:
- A consistent point of contact
- Having a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or NDIA planner who will understand the unique needs of each participant
- A stronger focus on the broader system of supports i.e. transport
- Information that is clear, consistent and available in accessible formats
- An improved NDIS portal and tools
The new pathway will be piloted and tested over the next few months prior to being implemented nationally. The new pathway was the result of research conducted by the NDIA and the Productivity Commission.
The NDIA conducted a study consisting of feedback from 188 participants and families. Other participants included frontline staff, service providers and state officials. The results showed that participants, families and stakeholders felt that the NDIS was not meeting benchmarks.
The Productivity Commission produced a report, showing that many NDIS participants found the planning process complex and confusing. It showed that many participants and families were disgruntled with having their planning meetings over the phone.
The commission were also told that sometimes participants were not even aware that the phone call was a planning meeting, so were not prepared for meetings which affected the quality of outcome.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has released details of a new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) ‘pathway’ designed to significantly improve the experience people and organisations have with the ground-breaking NDIS.
Amaze, a peak body for people with autism, stated that participants have reported feeling rushed in their planning meeting. They also felt forced into a phone planning meeting. Amaze claims there is a lack of clear and accessible information for participants about the planning process.
The Commonwealth Ombudsmen received complaints from participants and families who were given no option for a face to face meetings, even where it was clear a phone interview was not appropriate i.e. a participant who required the use of communication boards to participate.
Journalist Stephen Easton wrote, the problem is the government is exerting pressure on NDIA to roll out the scheme by 2020 and this has comprised the outcomes for participants. Therefore, the planning meetings were rushed.
It was due to complaints similar to the ones above, that the NDIA developed the new NDIS pathway.
Editor Lisa Caneva interviewed People with Disability Australia senior policy officer on the NDIS, Dr Meg Clement-Couzner. She believes that the new NDIS pathways is positive. However, she is anxious to see the outcome.
This year I didn’t have a meeting for a review of my plan. My plan was automatically renewed without any consultation from me. When I questioned this, I was told that someone tried to contact me via phone without success. So, they just continued my plan i.e. I received the same amount of funding. Due to my disability, I have problems communicating via phone, so I prefer email. The NDIA were aware of this, yet still phoned me.
Personally I can related to the fact that many participants would prefer to meet face to face with the planner.
However, despite some of these issues the NDIS has had a profound positive impact on my life. For instance, I’m able to fulfil a lifelong ambition of being employed. This was possible due to the direct assistance of the NDIS.
I applaud the NDIA for designing a new NDIS pathway. I do feel encouraged that we, people with disability will have more control over how meetings are being conducted. The fundamental purpose of the NDIS is people with disability having choice and control over their lives. I believe this can become a reality for people with disability.
With tenacity from people with disability, NDIS staff and stake holders, we’ll get there!