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2019 NDIS Review - Where to From Here?

“The nature and speed of rolling out the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the time frames was highly ambitious. While many people with disability have reported excellent experiences, others have expressed frustrations with wait times and complexity of processes.”

A brief excerpt from the 2019 Review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act, which has just been released.

While I’m not a participant or involved with the NDIS, it is difficult not to empathise with people seeking to improve their lives and achieve their goals and aspirations. People need the NDIS to be easier to access, easier to deal with and more focused on their individual needs.

The old State-based disability support schemes were rightly criticised for being too inflexible and having rigid support criteria, but a lot of issues raised in the latest NDIS review are the same as those that plagued the outdated systems.

While I acknowledge that any transition or change is difficult, the repetition of similar issues from the old to the new scheme could have been avoided through proper co-design.

There were cases during the initial NDIS roll out where people with sight impairments were sent letters informing them how to access services and support.

One of the fundamentals of co-design is good communication and being able to access information which can be easily understood.

Turn It on Its Head!

The way the NDIS operates should be turned upside down. A better system would be to set eligibility criteria in a societal rather than medical way.

A broad eligibility category could be introduced to provide generalised and graded support to recipients depending on their level of abilities to undertake normal daily activities.

This type of category would provide immediate care and treatment to people while the often-lengthy medical diagnosis is undertaken.

The eligibility criteria need to change to put the focus onto functional assessments rather than medical diagnosis to avoid ongoing delays for people trying to get support.

The medical profession recognises the ongoing problem with some doctors admitting to cutting corners to help children with autism get NDIS funding for treatment sooner.

The doctors are giving children with developmental delays like autism a diagnosis on the spot, rather than referring them to child assessment teams with long waiting lists.

The doctors say there are some ethical and maybe some procedural concerns, but as doctors they want to do is what’s best for their patients — not what is best for the system.

Best Advice

I’m now 13 years into my journey and my self-image, confidence and mental health are a lot better now than when I started out to seek support and help.

It is very difficult for anybody who has just gone through a traumatic injury, or suffered an unexpected impairment, to negotiate the support they require for their well-being.

Even harder is coming to grips with the appeals process if you disagree about the level of funding or support. While it's improving, NDIS still gets it wrong two out of five times.

For anybody seeking the support of the NDIS, it is best to never (what I term) “take the piss” – don’t try and seek things that are not fair and reasonable. Otherwise you’ll soon get a reputation and find that you get blocked at every corner, so to speak.

Stick by your guns though if your requests for support are honestly genuine. You know what you can and can’t do you know better than anyone.

Finally, have patience. Red tape takes ages

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