Consultation period

9 September 2021 - 10:00 am To 7 October 2021 - 11:59 pm

Changes to the NDIS Act: Schedule 1 – The Participant Service Guarantee

Schedule 1 of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Participant Service Guarantee and Other Measures) Bill 2021 (the Bill) contains the legislative amendments necessary to create the framework for the Participant Service Guarantee.

The Guarantee will mean that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) must make decisions about a person’s access to the scheme and their plans within certain timeframes.

The Guarantee will also require the NDIA to meet specific service standards when working with people with disability and their families and carers.

The NDIA will need to report on how well it is delivering each part of the Participant Service Guarantee.

The NDIA will have more flexibility to make quick changes to plans, through a plan variation, without needing to go through a full plan review. This will make it easier and faster for participants to get their NDIS supports. It will be particularly helpful when a quote for assistive technology is received, and will mean the quote will not result in a full plan review.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman will have powers to independently monitor and report to the Government on how well the NDIA is improving the participant experience.

Schedule 1 in detail

Schedule 1 enables key features of the Participant Service Guarantee, based on recommendations 11, 25 and 26 of the 2019 review of the NDIS Act.

It sets out that the NDIA CEO, or their delegate, must make an access decision within 21 days or less.

It also sets out that the new Participant Service Guarantee Rule can include timeframes for processes in relation to the development of plans, and timeframes for processes in relation to plans that have already come into effect, such as:

  • how long it will take for a participant’s plan to be developed and approved after they meet access
  • how long it will take to complete a reassessment of the participant’s plan, should the participant request that reassessment
  • the maximum number of days it will take to complete an internal review of a NDIA decision
  • the maximum number of days it will take for a participant’s plan to be varied, in the circumstances prescribed by the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (Plan Administration) Rules 2021.

Schedule 1 further sets out that the new Participant Service Guarantee Rule can include qualitative aspects, such as how the NDIA, the CEO and Partners in the Community are to engage with participants or prospective participants. It also includes a reciprocal principle on how prospective participants or participants are to engage with the NDIA.

It enables a person affected by a reviewable decision to request the CEO or their delegate to give the person reasons for the decision and the ability for participants to ask to see their draft plan before it is approved.

The Participant Service Guarantee Rule will be considered a Category C Rule under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act), requiring majority agreement from the Commonwealth, states and territories.

Schedule 1 further sets out that the NDIA‘s quarterly report about the performance of the NDIA will include information on the NDIA’s performance against the Participant Service Guarantee.

To support transparent reporting on the Participant Service Guarantee, the Commonwealth Ombudsman is required to provide the Commonwealth Minister a written report about the NDIA’s performance on the Participant Service Guarantee. This report must be tabled in both Houses of Parliament within 15 sitting days of the Minister receiving it. The Ombudsman’s report will also include information on how the NDIA handled complaints or specific issues. The Ombudsman’s report will not contain personal information (within the meaning of the Privacy Act 1988).

Schedule 1 to the Bill also makes the following improvements based on the 2019 review of the NDIS Act (the Tune review):

  • provides prospective participants with a minimum of 90 days to provide information requested by the NDIA to support an access decision, before it is deemed they have withdrawn their access request (based on recommendation 9 of the 2019 review of the NDIS Act)
  • removes the duplicate use of the word ‘review’ to differentiate between reviews conducted under s.48 and 100 of the NDIS Act. The word ‘review’ for the purpose of scheduled and unscheduled plan review will be redefined as ‘reassessments’ (based on recommendation 22)
  • provides that NDIS Rules set out how the CEO should decide whether or not to undertake a participant-or-CEO-initiated plan reassessment (based on recommendation 20)
  • clarifies that where a review of a reviewable decision relates to plans, the decision maker can consider the original decision and any variation to, or replacement of the original decision (based on recommendation 23). The intention behind this amendment is to ensure both an internal reviewer of the NDIA and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal can review both the original decision and any subsequent decisions made by the NDIA
  • provide that the CEO or delegate may, on their own initiative or at the request of the participant, vary a plan if the variation is (based on recommendation 21):
    • a change to the statement of participant supports in particular circumstances
    • a correction of a minor or technical error such as a typo, or
    • allowed by the NDIS Rules
      • provides that, if a participant tells the CEO that they want to vary their plan, the CEO has 21 days to decide whether the plan can be varied or not (based on recommendation 25)
      • provides that, if the CEO has not made a decision before the end of the 21 day period, the CEO must conduct an unscheduled reassessment (based on recommendation 25). An unscheduled reassessment means that the original plan cannot stay the same, the CEO must either vary the participant’s plan or prepare a new plan.

What you should read?

You can read the following documents to understand Schedule 1:

Schedule 1 of the Bill should be read in conjunction with the information on the Participant Service Guarantee Rule.

If you want more information, you can also read the:

Have your say

You can have your say on Schedule 1 of the Bill by making a submission.