10 Sep

Synapse strongly rejects compulsory NDIS Independent Assessments

The Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the Hon Stuart Robert, recently announced the introduction of compulsory Independent Assessments for people with disability to be able to access the NDIS, and as part of the plan review process.

We oppose this, and here’s why.

 

What are Independent Assessments?

  • All new applicants to the NDIS will be required to undertake a compulsory Independent Assessment, with eventually all Participants requiring them as part of their ongoing access to the Scheme.
  • Currently people who wish to access the NDIS pay for assessments via their own treating professionals, and these are submitted to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to determine an individual’s eligibility to access the NDIS.
  • Independent Assessments, on the other hand, will be a function outsourced by the NDIS. It means that the organisation responsible for their delivery will be won by tender. The NDIA will be their ‘boss’ effectively and likely have KPIs for the contract. Not exactly independent.

Why we reject Independent Assessments:

  • People with disability currently accessing the NDIS already have diagnoses and assessments with their own team of treating professionals who they trust, and who are more likely to have long standing and extensive knowledge of them.
  • Independent Assessments will take up to a maximum of four hours and as little as 20 minutes – which will include observation, assessment and report writing. Not enough time to adequately understand the nuances of a person’s disability and their functional capacity.
  • People with disability can present very differently day by day, depending on whether they are having a ‘good day’ or a ‘bad day’. An assessment of a few hours is simply not going to give an accurate picture of their needs.
  • We understand that assessors are likely to be medical professionals, with no requirement that they have knowledge or qualifications in disability.
  • Importantly, this measure has been introduced without any consultation with participants and their families, peak bodies or consumer groups.
  • People with disability who are marginalised and already have multiple and complex barriers to accessing the NDIS will be further disadvantaged, particularly our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters. Read our media release here: (insert link)

Bottom line – We already know the NDIS can be challenging to access for many people with disability. It is a scheme devised to improve choice and control for participants. This move reduces choice and control.

Synapse believes compulsory Independent Assessments will not improve access to the NDIS, nor make it more equitable.

 

What can I do?

You can write to Minister Roberts expressing your concerns about this move and demanding adequate consultation with participants and carers before it is introduced:

Via his website here

P: (07) 5500 5919

E: stuart.robert.mp@aph.gov.au

Change.org is hosting an active petition led by disability advocate, Sue Grier:

https://www.change.org/p/stop-ndis-from-rolling-out-independent-assessments-that-takes-away-all-choice-and-control-from-people-with-disability

(Please note: this petition is not affiliated with Synapse in any way).

What will Synapse do?

We are committed to continuing to work closely with the NDIS to improve equity and access for people with a disability.

We will harness our existing relationships in government to express our strong opposition to these new measures.