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NDIS ‘overhaul’ on the way: Report


Alisha Dorrigan


7/12/2023 4:23:43 PM

Sustainability and unity are at the centre of 26 recommendations that aim to improve the lives of all Australians with disability, not just those on the NDIS.

Boy speaking to a blurred out woman.
Sustainability and unity are central themes of the NDIS review.

The long-awaited independent review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been released with a commitment to provide a ‘wholesale overhaul’ of the scheme after receiving nearly 4000 submissions.
 
The report comes amid growing sustainability concerns with forecasts estimating that the NDIS will cost up to $100 billion annually by 2032.
 
Across more than 300 pages, the detailed review presents 26 recommendations with 139 supporting actions that are underpinned by a focus on functional impairment rather than diagnostic labels that have previously been used to establish eligibility to access NDIS funding.
 
Fairness and inclusion for all people with disability is embedded throughout the recommendations with a key objective to bolster mainstream and foundational supports outside of the NDIS for the 2.5 million Australians under the age of 65 living with disability.
 
The RACGP has welcomed the report and broadly supports the recommendations. However, President Dr Nicole Higgins says a stronger focus on general practice in disability care is still needed.
 
‘If GPs are better utilised, we can help make the scheme more efficient. We have in-depth knowledge of our patients and their individual circumstances,’ she said.
 
‘It is concerning that the report doesn’t deeply delve into healthcare for people with a disability, including general practice care. The Government must recognise that GPs play a vital role in disability care, and barriers do exist.’
 
The RACGP has long been advocating for increased GP involvement in the NDIS and in a previous submission called for clearer information and improved collaboration between the NDIS and the primary care sector, as well as for tailored funding models.
 
Dr Higgins also shared her personal experience with newsGP and said that a lack of coordination between primary care and the NDIS has been detrimental to the scheme.
 
‘By not linking GPs in with the NDIS, it has resulted in the loss of the gatekeeper role and one of the challenges has been the exploitation of people with disability,’ she said.
 
‘I have two siblings with disabilities, one profound and on the NDIS, and it’s so important that they have a GP in their corner and to provide that continuity of care.
 
‘We reviewed my sister’s package recently and changed training providers and … she’s much happier, she’s getting great care and great support.
 
‘But as a GP, I have also seen my patients be exploited and charged enormous amounts of money for services that they need.’
 
According to the report, between 2021 and 2022, 93% of disability funding was directed to the NDIS leading to health inequities for those unable to access their own NDIS package.
 
‘The gap between those inside and outside the NDIS is unfair,’ the report says.
 
‘People with disability who are eligible for the NDIS have access to a wide range of tailored supports, while those who are ineligible struggle to find the right support to meet their needs.’
 
This had led to increasing demand for NDIS services due to the lack of alternative options, with Minister for the NDIS and Government Services Bill Shorten previously saying that ‘the NDIS is in danger of becoming the only lifeboat in the ocean’.
 
Following the release of the independent review, Minister Shorten praised the efforts of those involved in delivering the report and says the Federal Government has ‘made [a] commitment to humanise the scheme’ and ensure funding is delivered to the intended recipients.
 
‘This is a significant moment in Australian history, particularly for people with disability and their
families, and the disability sector. Our nation will reap the rewards of the review’s work,’ he said.
 
‘It is important that Australians understand changes are not going to happen overnight and any reforms … will be developed with the disability community to ensure a better NDIS.’
 
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Dr Peter James Strickland   9/12/2023 12:05:18 PM

The rorts that are happening with the NDIS were always predictable --it is designed for severely compromised people ONLY. The rip-offs by some suppliers of services is really in the criminal category. Autism being on the NDIS should be reserved for those kids with Kanners Syndrome --they do NOT communicate, are super-active, eat limited diets all the time, and not for those on this invented "autism spectrum disorder" that I see with pretty normal kids with some communication problems, but talk freely with most people etc, eat well, have good eye contact, and able to go to school etc. and may be more likely to suffer childhood depression or ADHD spectrum disorder. I am totally against 'labelling' reasonably normal kids, and who end up eating normal, eventually mixing in sporting teams, and getting good education outcomes as adults. Many of these childhood psych diagnoses are genetic --a bit like the physical disability we all see with enuresis, but dissipate a lot with normal life.