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NDIS Policy

The Australian Federation Party NDIS Policy needs real and purposeful reforms.

The NDIS Policy was introduced during the dying hours of the Gillard Government in 2013. It was rushed and, as with all rushed legislation, did not make for a well thought out scheme.

The scheme is ostensibly funded and managed on a 50/50 basis. The States provide the majority of face to face contact with overall administration handled by the Federal Government.

As with any of these areas of combined State/Federal responsibility, blame for problems with the scheme defaults to the Federal Government and States do nothing to change public perspectives.

Most Participants will confirm that the NDIS has changed their lives. But that is what leaves them even more vulnerable than before, the fear that losing that support would plunge them back into that feeling that they were among the forgotten Australians.

The NDIS Policy scheme has a number of faults.

  • It does not allow for financial support for the costs of applicants to the scheme.
  • It requires Participants to justify their use of funds, on an annual basis (now being extended), creating a feeling of uncertainty around their ongoing support.
  • An over-reliance on Occupational Therapists (OTs) has created an environment where (given their costs are controlled) they are able to pick and choose clients.
  • NDIA face to face contacts are often employed by State-funded subcontractors, they change regularly and are poorly trained. Participants are constantly retelling their story and are left feeling like they need to re-apply for the scheme at every review.
  • It is driven by Service Providers. The concept of ‘choice and control’ is a misnomer. The control still rests with the corporate power brokers.
  • There is no real financial protection for Participants to ensure their funds are used to their best advantage.

The result is an NDIS Policy scheme where Participants are uncertain of their future and see the NDIA as the enemy. The request for the funding process has been likened to begging for pocket money. Participants live in fear of their reviews and feel the NDIA will take it away at any opportunity.

In 2021, the LNP introduced legislation to remedy this. They were flooded with submissions (mainly from Service Providers) and Participants panicked. Its detractors preyed on their fears that it was all an attempt to reduce their funding.

The legislation was badly written (yet again), but its main aims were sound.

  • Funding for applications to the NDIS
  • Removing the socio-economic bias that sees >20% bias of Participants in the scheme
  • Removing the socio-economic bias that sees >20% in the funding of certain Participants

There are more Participants in higher socioeconomic levels and they got more funding as well!

These issues still need to be addressed, but they can’t be without legislative change to the NDIS Policy and a solution still needs to be found.

At the same time, we see the following issues that need to be changed.

  • Service providers still hold the balance of power, and until this is changed, the aim of giving participants ‘choice and control’ can never be achieved
  • Service coordinators and Fund Managers must work together to ensure Participants are assisted in getting the most out of their plans
  • A clear conflict of interest exists when Service Providers also provide these services as part of a package.

The NDIA is moving service coordinator functions to LACs, which is a big move towards making sure this support is available to all Participants where direct funding is not included in their plan, but it is vital that they also provide fund management assistance. It cannot also be expected of LACs, they are 2 very different skill sets.

The NDIS is a growing ‘drain’ on both Federal and State coffers. NDIS Policy needs proper financial management is vital for both Participants and the government and yet the Pricing Guidelines provide almost negligible funding for this aspect of a Participant’s funding.

A fixed fee of $100/mth on a plan ensures that those with larger plans are unable to get the financial overview their plan requires. They make the same mistake so many corporates have made in the past. Failure to recognise that financial oversight and management are the keys to efficient and effective use of funding, failure to recognise only leads to inefficiencies and misuse of funds.

Our plan involves the following;

Funding for applications to the NDIS Policy Scheme

To be done by Allied Health Professionals, who already know the applicant, using the standard assessment tools already identified, including statements from the applicant and other interested parties.

Rebalance excess/underfunded Plans

NDIA to advise Participants who are receiving disproportionately high funding levels in relation to the average with a view to bringing them back toward the average and increasing funding for those on the lower end.

Establish an Independent Plan Support mechanism for all plans

Fund Managers and Service Coordinators (as Plan Supporters) to be held responsible for ensuring the proper support of participants with a view to ensuring they are protected from abuse and neglectable to achieve the most from their funding

Fund Management funding and fees are based on a % of total funding (not a fixed amount).

Remove any conflict of interest between Plan Support and Service Providers

NDIS Policy Plan must not be in any way linked to those providing services to a Participant. Provide Fund Management support in parallel to LACs through the current provider network where separate funding is not included in a plan

Make the concept of ‘choice and control’ a reality

Service providers who do not provide services to the benefit and satisfaction of Participants and their Plan supporters are held responsible for these failures. Restrictive clauses in Service Agreements to be removed.

Get real about increasing employment opportunities for the disabled

NDIA to be charged with finding ways to better employ the disabled including part-time positions AT ALL LEVELS, flexible working hours and the concept of a nationwide office environment to encourage other employers (public and private) to do the same. Ensure substantial tax incentives to businesses whose workforce is more than 50% disabled or above 50 years old.

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© Australian Federation Party 2022
ABN: 89 675 531 191
Authorised by Glenn O’Rourke, Morphett Vale South Australia 5162