The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme inquiry into planning released an interim report. The report starts with ...
Planning is fundamental to the operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The plan sets out the goals of the NDIS participant and the funded supports that will assist the participant to realise those goals. In effect, the plan determines how the participant will experience the NDIS. Given the significance of the planning process, it is crucial that planning is effective, robust, and meets the needs of all NDIS participants.
It is therefore concerning that the committee has heard there are a number of significant issues with the operation and implementation of the NDIS—particularly in relation to process. It is troubling that many of these issues are not new, and have been raised in previous inquiries.
In light of these matters, the committee considers that urgent action must be taken to improve the operation of the NDIS, and in particular the planning process, to maximise choice and control for people with disability and ensure that NDIS participants are fully supported to achieve their goals.
Evidence presented to the committee throughout the inquiry indicates that more time is required to fully consider issues associated with the planning process. Further time is also required to consider the impact of recent government initiatives to improve the NDIS—several of which are in their trial stages. Consequently, the committee has decided to present this interim report, which contains 14 recommendations to improve the operation of the planning process and the NDIS more generally. Many of these are proposed as a means of addressing issues with the planning process in the immediate term, while initiatives to improve the planning process are implemented. The committee has also highlighted other areas that it will consider more closely in the coming months.
It is very much more than "troubling that many of these issues are not new, and have been raised in previous inquiries". It is unacceptable that the NDIA refuses to act on clear and direct recommendations from this Committee and from other relevant stakeholders.
The report has several things to say about planning for autistic participants, especially in relation to early intervention:
Provision of services under the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach
2.77 Between June and December 2017, this committee undertook an inquiry into the provision of services under the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Approach, reporting in December 2017.
2.78 Key issues raises by submitters and other stakeholders related to: access to the NDIS; the planning process, the adequacy of plans and delays in the plan approval process; underfunded plans for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); and the costs of delivering services for service providers.
2.79 Relevant to the present inquiry, the committee recommended that:
- the NDIA provide ongoing and targeted training to planners creating ECEI plans for children to ensure that they are equipped with the most up to date knowledge, expertise and resources in their decision making;
- the NDIA ensure that provision of funding for assessments in plans is based on participant needs, and not arbitrarily restricted to a yearly assessment;
- the NDIA urgently address issues of scope and level of funding in plans for children with autism with a view to ensuring that recommended evidence-based supports and therapies are fully funded; and
2.80 By early 2019, stakeholders acknowledged that there had been improvements through the development and implementation of the ECEI pathway. However, there were a range of issues that still needed to be urgently addressed, including: delays in provision of services; significant challenges in addressing the needs of children with ASD; and the lack of a clear, national strategy around the ECEI approach under the NDIS.
A4 is not aware that ASD-related stakeholders "acknowledged that there had been improvements" to the ECEI pathway. A4 has observed massive resistance from the NDIA to any change at all.
This is an interim report. Hopefully, the inquiry will deliver a strong and comprehensive final report. But based on past performance, there is little or no prospect that the NDIA will respect and respond positively to any constructive criticism.