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Independent assessments 2.15 MB

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme initiated this inquiry following concern expressed in the community about the introduction of independent assessments. While some disagreement over policy reforms from affected individuals or interested stakeholders is an expected and constructive part of democratic decision-making, evidence to this inquiry suggested there was widespread opposition to independent assessments in their proposed form. This opposition was almost universal in evidence from state and territory governments, academics and universities, allied health professionals, allied health peak bodies, disability providers, advocacy groups and people with lived experience and their families.

The Committee therefore welcomes the announcement by the new Minister for the NDIS, Senator Linda Reynolds, that the federal government will not be proceeding with independent assessments in their proposed form and will be taking time to consult in a meaningful way. The committee is hopeful that the Minister will continue to listen to the sector, as well as hearing and taking action on the basis of expert advice, to ensure that future changes to the scheme centre the needs and experience of people with disability.

This report steps through the background and rationale for the proposal to introduce independent assessments, first announced by the government in August 2020.

  • Chapter 2 outlines the proposal's initial announcement, trialling of assessments, consultation by the government on the proposal and the new Minister's announcement in July 2021 that independent assessments as proposed would not proceed.
  • Chapters 3 and 4 examine the two reports relied on by the government to support the proposal, and key elements of the government's stated rationale for the proposal.
  • Chapters 5 to 7 consider concerns raised in evidence to the inquiry about independent assessments.
  • Chapter 6 highlights concerns raised by people with lived experience with disability.

The final two chapters of the report discuss the committee's observations regarding why the proposed introduction of independent assessments was met with such united opposition from people with disability and their families, along with experts and the wider disability sector, and make suggestions for next steps.

On this point, the committee is particularly interested in approaches that will allow the Australian government and the sector to rebuild trust and work together moving forward. Crucial among these is the use of co-design and undertaking appropriate consultation on proposals to amend the scheme. The committee makes six recommendations, set out in Chapter 9, going to broader matters of financial sustainability, approaches to co-design and consultation, and bulk-billed appointments with medical and allied health professionals.

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