Family Advocacy's work in the NDIS reviews and appeals space.
Sian Williams has recently joined the team as the Systemic Advocate and Leadership Coordinator. Sian is busy providing information to family members and people with developmental disability on the NDIS reviews and appeals processes. Sian is also working to create systemic change within the NDIS.
Family Advocacy attended the NDIS Appeals Forum
At the NDIS Appeals Forum held in Sydney in September 2017, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) said that it is working to improve its internal review processes. It is working on providing better decision letters which inform participants of the outcomes of internal reviews. It is also working to improve the overall training and guidance of staff handling reviews. Family Advocacy will continue to apply pressure on the NDIA to implement these changes which may help to eliminate the difficulties that families are currently facing through these processes.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) said that applications for NDIS appeals increased from 185 in 2016-2017 to 267 midway through 2017. The AAT has stated on numerous occasions that it is overwhelmed with the fast increase of NDIS related matters coming to the Tribunal. The AAT, however, has also said that it is committed to ensuring fair access to the Tribunal for people with disability.
If you are nervous about challenging an NDIA decision at the AAT, you are able to speak with the Tribunal about your concerns and request reasonable adjustments that may improve the experience for you. Remember, it is not a legal court. It is a merits review Tribunal and it is a place where you can have your story heard.
We strongly encourage families who are considering challenging an NDIA decision at the AAT to proceed. The AAT is the forum that the Federal Government has chosen to conduct the final stage of review of administrative decisions made by the NDIA. Taking concerns to the AAT is the only way to know whether or not the NDIA’s decision is the most correct and preferable one. This ensures that the NDIS operates as fairly and justly as possible.
Want advice for your NDIS Review?
Family Advocacy has developed a comprehensive guide to assist families who are navigating the complex NDIS review process. You can find the guide here.
Need help with Service Agreements?
You will need to sign service agreements with NDIA approved service providers. It is important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities in relation to service agreements with providers. Family Advocacy has developed a guide to assist families when signing service agreements. You can find the guide here.
Changes to the National Disability Insurance Agency
The NDIA has declared that it is making changes to improve the experiences of participants and nominees utilising the NDIS.
It has conceded that its communication with people with disability and their families and allies is flawed and in need of improvement. It will be implementing a new NDIS ‘pathway’ which is designed to improve the communication between the NDIA and participants, nominees and organisations.
It is proposing to make face-to-face planning meetings the standard practice, rather than relying on phone interviews. It is making improvements to the Portal to make it more accessible and clear. It will work to incorporate a larger focus on connecting people with supports that are not related to the NDIS, such as health, education and transport.
Family Advocacy will press for the NDIA to implement these changes before the NDIS rolls out into full scheme in 2018.
The Productivity Commission's Report
The Productivity Commission has reviewed NDIS costs for 2017 and provided a report to guide the final stage of the scheme’s rollout. Family Advocacy made a submission to the Productivity Commission with input from families. It looks like the Commission has taken the stories of families on board when writing its report. We will continue to strongly urge the NDIA to incorporate the Commission’s recommendations.
The Commission referred to our concern that was raised by families in our survey that participants and nominees were not being properly informed of the options available for them to self-manage their NDIS plans. Whilst self-management is the best way to have choice and control over the use of NDIS funding, it is also more cost-effective for the Agency to build the capacity of families and people with disability to self-manage, rather than rely on management by the NDIA.
The Commission has recommended that a draft plan be made available for participants to allow for minor amendments or adjustments to the plan, rather than triggering a full plan review. Family Advocacy endorsed this process with reference to feedback provided by families utilising the NDIS. We will continue to urge the NDIA to follow this recommendation.
The Joint Standing Committee's Inquiry into the NDIS
Family Advocacy was asked to provide evidence to the Joint Standing Committee’s Inquiry into Transitional Arrangements for the NDIS. The Committee heard evidence from the families who responded to our survey on the NDIS.
We informed the Committee that in our survey completed by 100 families, 93% of respondents said that they wanted a draft copy of their NDIS plan. The process of implementing NDIS plans without allowing participants and nominees to check that the plan is adequate or even contains the correct information is unfair and against common insurance scheme practices.
Family Advocacy strongly urged the Committee to recommend that the NDIA provide NDIS plans and correspondence in plain English. We also asked for the NDIA to provide more extensive training for LAC’s to build their capacity to understand the complexities of different disabilities.
The Joint Standing Committee’s Report will be made available on the 28th of February, 2018.