Reviewing the NDIS

The Australian Government promised last year to develop and legislate an NDIS Participant Service Guarantee to improve participant experiences with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

To do this, the Government commissioned a review of the NDIS legislation – Mr David Tune was appointed as the independent reviewer – it became known as the ‘Tune Review’.

The review looked at changes that could be made to the law to streamline NDIS processes, remove barriers to positive participant experiences and introduce the Participant Service Guarantee. The review did not consider changing the design or intent of the NDIS.

What the review heard

While there is support for the NDIS across all levels of government and the community, responses to the review often expressed frustration, dissatisfaction and sometimes anger about the way the NDIS has been implemented. It was clear that many of the benefits the NDIS seeks to achieve are yet to be consistently realised.

In particular, the review heard that some participants:

  • feel the NDIS is too complex and difficult to navigate
  • experience lengthy waits to supports
  • do not understand how the NDIA makes decisions about eligibility for the NDIS and the supports provided in their plan, including when a support is reasonable and necessary
  • have found the transition to the NDIS confusing and frustrating
  • want to have more information and support to understand the NDIS, navigate the system and access their supports
  • feel they are not recognised as the experts in their disability
  • have difficulty finding information and products in accessible formats or in formats that otherwise suit their needs
  • feel NDIA staff do not understand disability or appreciate the challenges they face as part of their everyday life.

What the review recommends

The Tune Review found the NDIS Act and its accompanying Rules are broadly fit for purpose but that some areas of the NDIS Act are unnecessarily rigid and do not allow flexibility. The review made recommendations to improve NDIS processes and remove barriers in the law that make it difficult for the NDIA to effectively support people with disability.

Mr Tune made 29 recommendations but overall suggested:

  1. Introducing a Participant Service Guarantee that sets out standards the NDIA must meet including:
  • clear expectations for how long processes will take to complete
  • more transparency in how the NDIA makes their decisions
  • better service delivery from NDIA staff and their Partners in the Community.
  1. Improving people’s experience with the NDIS by:
  • providing more flexibility in using NDIS funding
  • allowing plans to be amended
  • participants being provided drafts of their plan before it is approved
  • better supporting children and families
  • clarifying access for people with psychosocial disability
  • providing better connections to supports where markets are undersupplied
  • enhancing online systems so people can track where their requests are up to.
  1. The NDIA and governments working together to:
  • clarify how the NDIS works with other service systems
  • help people navigate, engage with and understand the NDIS
  • create resources that help participants decide which supports they should use.

When will the recommendations be implemented if they are supported by the Government?

The Australian Government has committed to make the Participant Service Guarantee law by 1 July 2020, although some of the Tune Review’s other recommendations may take longer to implement.