Ability First Australia strongly endorses the 2019 review of the NDIS Act and the new NDIS Participants Service Guarantee undertaken by Mr David Tune AO PSM, published in January 2020, which advocates for more transparency for how the NDIA make decisions, better access to NDIS supports, and more flexibility in using NDIS funding. We acknowledge the progress that the Australian Government and NDIA have made in protecting, supporting, and empowering people with disability, and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively on meeting these objectives.
We believe the following actions are critical in achieving this:
Development of a quality, well-trained Workforce to support economic recovery
A major part of a participant’s experience of the NDIS is a result of their interaction with the workforce; the demand for quality, well-trained staff is therefore paramount.
We believe strategic investment in workforce is not only critical to the success of a social insurance scheme, but a key driver for economic recovery.
The number of entry level jobs available in the disability market aligns exceptionally well with the Government’s mandate for job creation; we would encourage the Government to work closely with the Sector to develop adequate training and education pathways to support these positions, and by doing so, achieve the objectives of the NDIS and outcomes for participants.
Active market stewardship to support the development of a marketplace that is sustainable, fair and effective
System sustainability is about ensuring that participants have access to genuine choice through the presence of as many service providers as a market can sustain.
In order to achieve that, system pricing must recognise and support the ability of providers to make a reasonable return on service investments and delivery; we strongly support a system that balances compliance, performance and reasonable financial benefit in order to ensure system sustainability.
We are concerned by the Agency’s mandate for more plan/self-managed services which have a low barrier to entry.
While we support market growth and diversification, we are concerned that these services, which are largely unregulated and non-compliant with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, pose a risk to the outcomes, safety and quality of supports delivered to participants, particularly those with higher support needs.
Greater funding and a national strategy for emergency / extenuating circumstances
We have seen first-hand that events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, flooding in Far North Queensland and bushfires in Tasmania, are disruptive to business operations and participants, and their impact can be devastating on communities.
We acknowledge the roles that the National Cabinet Reform Committees and Department of Health play in developing an integrated, national strategy in response to future pandemics; it is critical for any policy to be bolstered by sufficient funding and assistance from government agencies, so that participants can be guaranteed continuity of supports, especially where increased essential services to customers are required.
Continued engagement with service providers to improve outcomes of the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Ability First commends the Agency’s and Department of Social Services’ congoing commitment to consulting and engaging with service providers.
Collaborative efforts around policy, pricing and more recently the NDIS Functional Capacity Assessment Framework demonstrates progress towards building a better understanding in the marketplace of our respective responsibilities.
We support the intended purpose of the Framework as an accurate assessment of impairment (enabling participants to lead a life with choice and control); we believe effective intervention is critical in developing the capacity of individuals.
The Agency needs to ensure that people with complex and multiple disabilities are sufficiently represented in the Framework, and that the proposed independent functional assessment process integrates with the current established planning process as recommended by the Auditor General.
We believe there is still some work to be undertaken by the Agency to ensure there is alignment on these initiatives, in order to truly improve long-term outcomes for participants, as the Scheme intends.
National Disability Strategy
Ability First Australia strongly supports the recommendations outlined in the National Disability Strategy Position Paper (July 2020).
We believe that improvements in those outcome areas defined in the paper (including health, justice, and employment) will lead to systemic reform across the Sector – a critical step in promoting the human rights of people with disability.
Ability First is committed to helping to establish a national culture of inclusion, accessibility, and respect for all individuals.
We acknowledge the importance of a national, whole of society approach in implementing this Strategy, and we will continue to engage with people with disability, their families, advocacy organisations, as well as Government, to reach these goals.
Thank you to all of our supporters for helping us rise to these key issues and continue to help thousands of people living with disability.
None of our work would be possible without our members, sponsors and supporters, and we sincerely thank you for your generosity.