30 MAY 2024

Disability advocacy organisations are expressing significant concern about the proposed NDIS legislation. At DANA, we’ve highlighted various issues in our submission to the Senate and during our recent appearance at the Senate hearing. Here is a recap of the key recommendations we’ve put forward:

Our key recommendations:

  1. Meaningful Co-design with People with Disability:
    • All aspects of NDIS reform must involve genuine co-design with people with disability to ensure their voices are central to the decision-making process.
  2. Careful Co-design of Needs Assessment and Budget Setting Process:
    • The needs assessment and budget setting process should be designed to fully capture the needs of each individual and their specific contexts.
    • This includes ensuring that the needs assessment leads to an accurate budget, provides people with the support they require, and includes safeguards such as providing people with copies of their reports, a process for identifying errors, and allowing additional information from self-assessments and input from support teams.
  3. Flexible Definition of Disability Support:
    • The definition of disability support should not be limited, ensuring that individuals can flexibly access the supports they need.
  4. Participant Safeguards:
    • Suspension powers should only be used as a last resort and should involve independent advocacy if they are being considered.
  5. Removal of Access Rule Amendments:
    • Access rule amendments should be removed from the Bill to protect the rights and access of people with disabilities.

Government’s Response:

After we put our submission in to the Senate inquiry, with all the recommendations, DANA was asked to come and give evidence last week, along with many of our advocacy colleagues.

We talked about the concerns of independent advocacy organisations about the impact of the legislation on people with disability, and on fixing the many problems with the Scheme that advocates know so well.

There has been some initial response to the evidence we all gave, with the Government making amendments to the Bill. One notable change includes revisions to the definition of NDIS Supports in section 10, addressing significant concerns about the flexibility needed to capture the diverse support needs of people with disability.

We’re hoping that many more of our amendments and changes will be adopted to fix the problems with the legislation.

What happens next?

  • The Community Affairs Legislation Committee will report back to the Senate by 20 June 2024.
  • Debates on the legislation have begun in the House of Representatives, where the Coalition has raised additional concerns but indicated they will pass the Bill through this first stage, with further review to come.
  • The Bill will then proceed to the Senate, where further amendments are anticipated. The Government will need the support of either the Coalition or the Greens and crossbench Senators to pass it.

This negotiation process will include amendments that are crucial to ensuring the Bill is fit for purpose, and we hope for significant consideration of the many areas that need substantial improvement.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has committed to working with the disability community on the rules and legislative instruments after the legislation is passed. They should also proactively address the many concerns raised in over 70 submissions to the Committee as it goes through Parliament, including that we want this engagement enshrined into the legislation.

DANA will continue to advocate for the much-needed changes to the legislation. The passage of this legislation still has some way to go, and we, along with our colleagues in the disability community, will provide updates, analysis, and work diligently to ensure this Bill meets the needs of all people with disability who use the NDIS.

We encourage all DANA members and advocacy organisations to stay informed and engaged as we navigate this critical period of legislative reform. Together, we can ensure that the NDIS continues to support and empower people with disabilities effectively and equitably.