Anonymous – 07/10/2021
Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission re the NDIS Act Review. You may publish my submission.
Thank you for stopping the plan for independent assessments. We are pleased to know that future changes to the NDIS assessments and the funding model will be co-designed with disability representatives. Improving participant experience and reviewing this annually is most welcome and clarification around the different types of reviews are also helpful.
I wish to submit the following concerns about proposed changes to the NDIS Act and Rules:-
- Plan variation without consultation
Section 47A seeks to allow plans to be varied on NDIS’s own initiative, without request, consultation, or consent from the participant. That is not acceptable. The CEO’s power needs to be contained. The participant and their family know best what they need and must be involved. Unfortunately, this is currently happening, as time and time again, participants receive less funding than they need and there is no explanation and redress is dauntingly slow and difficult and often gets nowhere.
- Changes to Becoming a Participant Rules
There are many terms in Rule 8 that are not defined and considerable leeway for NDIS to decline supporting someone in need of treatment, especially if they have a psychosocial disability. NDIS should not have the power to determine what is an “appropriate” treatment or how to manage their condition. People’s needs are far too diverse for NDIS to know what is appropriate or reasonable. Would-be participants should be entitled to choice, rather than be controlled by the whim and lack of knowledge and awareness of an NDIS planner.
Rule 9(2)(b) is concerning because this again allows NDIS to determine what treatments are appropriate that may be available outside of NDIS. Even now, often people with psychosocial disability are refused NDIS because Medicare has a Mental Health Care Plan or there is a local service with limited capacity. These services can be grossly insufficient to meet the person’s needs and costs. For example, Medicare funds between $54 – $76 of a fee of $200 and has a limit of 10 session (20 during COVID). It also has significant restrictions in scope so may not meet the person’s needs at all. Community resources can sometimes contribute, but are typically not nearly enough to offer choice or effective support. But many NDIS planners just follow NDIS Guidelines because that’s what they are told to do and they don’t know enough to know other services are not adequate. So even if there’s “open-ended” terms like “appropriate treatment”, they will interpret any option as enough to preclude NDIS funding. These terms give NDIA the opportunity to evade providing supports. Sadly, a participant’s fate can depend on whether a planner is well informed and interested in supporting people or whether a planner is unaware and prefers to have black and white rules and boxes to tick.
- Changes to Plan Management and Payment of Supports
Please clarify that changes to Section 45 of the Act for self-managing participants will not restrict them to using a tap and go system on smartphone apps to make payments. This doesn’t suit everyone.
- Reasons for decisions
It is very welcome that participants can request reasons for decisions made by the NDIS which were reviewed. However, it should not be necessary to request these, nor for there to be any wait to receive the reasons. The reasons should be provided automatically at the time of the decision, and they should be thoroughly explained and clear. In fact, all decisions made where the participant has not received the funding they requested should be explained in writing.
- Issues not addressed
There needs to be an addition to the rules to allow the AAT to consider additional supports requested during the AAT process, even though these were not initially raised at the internal review stage. Things can change over the waiting period and it is much more efficient to allow this flexibility.
I would also like to express my concern that it is impossible and unwieldy for participants and providers to know what formulas and rules the NDIS is using and how to navigate this complex and unwieldy system. We have concerns that the Minister and NDIA have too much power and not enough accountability. It’s the participants and providers who need to be consulted and heard when determining and changing the rules. We’d like to feel that the Minister and NDIA are our allies, keen to safeguard wellbeing and carefully generous in providing effective support.