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NDIS Tune Review sets the scene for (long overdue) change

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21 January 2020

MS Australia joins other disability peak organisations in welcoming the Tune Review that provides recommendations to improve the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

News yesterday of the release of the NDIS Review and the federal government’s intention to use the 29 recommendations to make a better Scheme, lessen the bureaucracy and improve timeframes, will no doubt be of interest to many in the MS community.

We are cautiously optimistic that through the review of the NDIS legislation, the many serious concerns of the disability and MS communities will at long last be seriously considered and at best, significantly transformed.

Deidre Mackechnie, CEO, MS Australia says,

“The landmark NDIS was established in 2013 and seven years on, we are (still) desperate for a Scheme that meets demand and delivers on promise...

"Beyond being fully funded and the roll out timetable met (our other big asks over the years), the MS community needs certainty and reassurance that the NDIS is properly managed, easy to access and navigate, timely, responsive and flexible.”"

“On behalf of our community, we have been crying out for flexible plans and optimal experiences with NDIA staff, who are consistent, objective, and truly understand and appreciate people’s needs”, adds Ms Mackechnie. “These ongoing concerns and uncertainty raise doubts and fears in the minds of those already participating in and those seeking access to the Scheme. Further, those newly diagnosed with MS, want ongoing reassurance that the Scheme will be timely, streamlined and accessible, should they need to access it at some time in the future.”

Of the 29 recommendations on how to improve the Scheme, we regard the following areas as particularly pertinent to the MS community:

  • The review of NDIS Rules around funding of support coordination in a participant’s plan (see Recommendation 16). This currently creates a barrier to people accessing expertise within specialist organisations by separating support coordination and service delivery.  MSA wants to ensure that specialist providers of support coordination and services are enabled, to provide knowledgeable support to people with specific need, throughout their plan development and implementation.    
  • The amendment of the NDIS Act and Rules in relation to episodic conditions. The Tune Review specifically focuses on psychosocial episodic disability and so we seek clarity around the use of ‘episodic conditions’ in the NDIS Act and Rules. (See Recommendation 8).
  • Legislating a Participant Service Guarantee that defines and tightens decision-making timeframes would have a substantial positive impact on people with MS moving through the NDIS journey. (See Recommendation 25).

In addition:

  • The Disability Reform Council will add the resolution of (amongst others), the treatment of chronic health conditions under the NDIS as an outstanding policy matter to its forward work program. (See Recommendation 1).
  • Clarity around the wording and definition of ‘reasonable and necessary’, especially with regard to supports (see Recommendation 4).  We know that for example, some people with MS require air-conditioning whilst others need heating and currently this is not funded consistently under this definition, potentially because the term is subjective and inflexible.

We do however endorse People with Disability Australia’s concerns over the Review’s lack of, “clear recommendation for staffing cap to be removed, for staff training particularly on disability rights and for more people with disability employed.”
Source: https://bit.ly/38rgtVK

“The MS community needs certainty and reassurance about the NDIS”, says Ms Mackechnie.

“We hope the 29 recommendations finally cut wait times and red tape and simplify the application process and we welcome NDIS Minister Stuart Robert’s comments that ‘NDIS legislation will be updated and clarified…and will remove barriers to a better NDIS/Scheme’.”

Significantly, the Tune Review recommends the government, “remove barriers in the law that make it difficult” for the National Disability Insurance Agency to effectively support people with disability and MS Australia will watch developments with interest.
Source: https://bit.ly/2GlmKq1

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People with Disability Australia media release: https://bit.ly/2RDT0JQ

To view the NDIS Tune Review visit: https://www.dss.gov.au/disability-and-carers-programs-services-for-people-with-disability-national-disability-insurance-scheme/2019-review-of-the-ndis-act-and-the-new-ndis-participant-service-guarantee

Sources and other articles of interest:
ABC News:
https://ab.co/2RDTcc2

Sydney Morning Herald
https://bit.ly/30DR4W5

The Standard
https://bit.ly/37eQznV

Pro Bono Australia
https://bit.ly/2RdnBze

Australian Ageing Agenda
https://bit.ly/2sIXjLL