On 7 December 2023, the Australian Government released the long-awaited final report of the independent NDIS Review, a comprehensive assessment aimed at improving the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The review sought to restore trust, ensure sustainability, and deliver a better NDIS experience for participants. It has recommended a range of additions and amendments in line with this goal. Read on for a summary of the report that outlines its purpose, key recommendations and next steps.
The purpose of the NDIS Review
The primary goals of the review were to find ways to improve the experiences of participants and their families, ensure the NDIS’s sustainability for future generations, and develop strategies to make the scheme fairer and safer.
In undertaking the review, the independent panel recognised the need for a refreshed, unified ecosystem of services and supports, a rethink of the participant journey in the NDIS, better support for children and their families and governments taking a more active role in the scheme’s efficiency and effectiveness. The report’s 26 recommendations and 139 detailed actions serve as a guide to revitalising the NDIS and bringing about the proposed changes.
In the spirit of the season, the sector experienced a significant event with the release of the final report of the Independent NDIS Review. The follow-up statements by the Minister, Mr Shorten, committed the government to implement the recommendations within a 5-year timetable.
However, the timing just before the end-of-year break provides stakeholders with an opportunity to reflect on the implications. MYP, as a leading industry platform in the sector, welcomes meaningful and improved outcomes for participants within budget constraints.
Given that MYP engages with the full cross-section of organisations providing services to the NDIS sector, we appreciate that the impact of the report will be felt in very different ways. For many, these changes offer positive opportunities for growth and innovation, while for others, especially plan managers, it poses disruptions.
MYP believes there are two key phases for plan managers over the next five years. The first phase is for MYP and its plan manager clients to focus on being the most efficient, viable, and effective operators. MYP will share significant news in the first quarter of the next year to encourage and reward plan managers for staying the course. The second phase involves understanding the Navigator role and exploring opportunities for transitioning to other service areas.
In the broader context, it’s essential to note that 61% of all plans are plan-managed, indicating a level of trust in plan managers. Moreover, more than 65% of recommendations from the 2019 review remain unimplemented, with over 10% only partially implemented. Political factors, including federal election cycles and state agreements, also play a role.
In essence, for those facing an unclear future, history has repeatedly shown that change reveals new and better opportunities for the open-minded, innovative, and resilient. MYP, as the leading industry platform, will continue to warmly engage, create, support, and be a leader in delivering solutions that enable your success.
Key recommendations provided by the NDIS Review
The recommendations covered several key areas of the NDIS, including access to the scheme, budgeting of individual support packages, provider charges and regulatory measures, along with legislative reforms where applicable. Some of these recommendations include:
The review recommended that all NDIS service providers be enrolled or registered, meaning that more providers would be held to higher standards and bound by regulatory requirements based on the supports they provide.
The review recommended the establishment of disability-specific foundational supports, including peer support, self-advocacy, capacity building and more easily accessible information and advice. These supports would be available to all Australians with a disability – irrespective of their NDIS status – as well as their integration with existing mainstream services, such as schools and childcare.
Early childhood intervention
Emphasising the need for more support for children in everyday settings, the review suggested earlier identification and support for children with disabilities, developmental concerns or delays, as well as additional supports for their families.
Psychosocial disability and mental health
The report advocated for a dedicated approach for people with psychosocial disabilities, improved access to mental health services and a strengthened link between mental health systems and the NDIS.
Navigating available services
The review proposed the introduction of designated ‘navigators’, who would help people find and access available services and supports, whether mainstream, community-based, foundational or via the NDIS. These navigators would provide personalised assistance to those seeking information and advice.
Housing and living support
The review recommended more consistency in housing and living support budgets for NDIS participants, along with a more flexible approach to housing supports to enable people to access solutions better tailored to their unique needs.
Governmental response to the NDIS Review
In response to the report, the Australian Government and states and territories have committed to NDIS reform, sharing the review’s aim of making disability supports fairer and more accessible to Australians. The National Cabinet has pledged to design additional foundational supports jointly commissioned by the Commonwealth and the states.
Minister for the NDIS and Government Services, Bill Shorten, highlighted that any reforms would be developed in collaboration with the disability community to ensure that their insights, feedback and suggestions are considered and incorporated. The Government’s full response to the review is anticipated to be released in 2024.
Next steps towards NDIS reform
While the final report’s release is a significant milestone, we are unlikely to see immediate change, with the review recommending a staged rollout to allow for a smoother transition for current participants and service providers. The next steps towards reform will involve collaboration between the Government, disability representatives and independent advisors and require careful consideration and testing of the review’s recommendations.
The report signifies a renewed commitment to improving the NDIS for the benefit of people with disabilities and their families, and its comprehensive recommendations demonstrate a stride towards a more inclusive and supportive NDIS for all Australians.
In our commitment to empowering the NDIS sector, MYP remains dedicated to staying actively abreast of updates and changes resulting from the independent NDIS Review. We understand the importance of ongoing engagement with our clients, ensuring that we stay informed about their evolving needs.
As a leading software platform supporting the NDIS, community services, aged care and health sectors, our promise is to provide unwavering support, keeping our clients well-informed and equipped to navigate the changes ahead. We will continue to work collaboratively, adapting our solutions to the dynamic landscape of the NDIS to ensure the success of our clients and the participants they serve.