It was a great relief to me that the government finally acknowledged legitimate concerns about independent assessments for people on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I commend Minister Reynolds for delaying the introduction of the new independent assessment process. She needs a chance to fully understand the scheme and assess feedback about the trial.
An NDIS participant told me he saw this as a sign of respect that his and many other voices had been heard. They have been deeply concerned about the potential for adverse and distressing impacts of the proposed independent assessments.
Respect is always a powerful motivator. It’s a value that should underpin genuine consultation processes and it is essential if the NDIS is to remain a fair, equitable and sustainable scheme.
The independent assessment process proposed the mandatory use of standardised tools used by NDIS appointed assessors. But a person’s unique circumstances cannot be properly assessed using a cookie cutter. Every person, every case is different. Making funding decisions within a limited time frame is similarly fraught. It pays little heed to the complexities of individual cases.
I’ve said before that people with disabilities and their families deserve special care and consideration. Important eligibility assessments should not be reduced to a tick and flick exercise. Privatisation where profit is the primary motivator.
By its very definition, the NDIS supports people that have highly complex needs that affect them, their families and carers and society generally. If we do need to tinker with the model the guiding principle should be to identify solutions that strike a balance between the provision of appropriate high-quality service and a sustainable level of funding. The 450,000 Australians with disability relying on the NDIS deserve no less than that.
That’s just as I see it.