We are introducing some improvements to how new participants access the Scheme, reducing the time and cost burdens placed on prospective participants by the current access process. We are also changing how we build plan budgets and will introduce overall plan flexibility.
We’ll keep talking to participants, their families, the disability community and other stakeholders like state and territory governments, to help inform how we implement the proposed reforms to the NDIS.
When a person applies to access the NDIS
We are working to replace existing processes with a simpler and more transparent approach to decide if someone is eligible for the NDIS.
Independent assessments will use standardised assessments tools, independently administered by experts like occupational therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists.
Assessments of functional capacity focus on capability, rather than disability. An assessment is not a medical diagnosis. It’s about understanding a person’s functional capacity, not making assumptions based on their disability.
Independent assessments provide an objective, unbiased approach to understanding how well a person is able to function at home and in the community, as well as the overall impact their disability has on their life. This means that all people who may be eligible for the NDIS have the same opportunity to access an internationally recognised, evidence-based and consistent assessment.
Through independent assessments, we are also reducing the time and cost for a person applying to access the NDIS.
When a person meets the age, residency, permanency and evidence of disability criteria of the NDIS, they will be referred to an assessor for their independent assessment.
Personalised budgets (NDIS plans)
Once a person is found eligible for the Scheme, independent assessments will be an important tool in developing a personalised budget.
Independent assessments strengthen the planning and budgeting process, matching a participant’s functional capacity, support needs and goals with the budget. This means a participant’s personalised plan budget is built using consistently gathered information on their functional capacity. Personalised budgets will be evidence-based, consistent, equitable and transparent.
Planners will be able to focus on helping participants to use their plan. Instead of feeling like a negotiation, planning meetings will be a quality conversation about how a participant can make the most of their NDIS plan to meet their needs and pursue their goals.
Existing participants will need to complete a free independent assessment from time-to-time, and at different stages of their lives to make sure they continue to get the funding that is right for them.
Independent assessments and participants transitioning from the NDIS
Entries and exits from the NDIS are a normal part of the Scheme’s insurance approach. We report the number of people who have entered and exited the NDIS in our Quarterly Reports.
If it is time for a participant to transition from the Scheme, an independent assessment will give them confidence in the significant gains they have made in their functional capacity, as a result of capacity building or early intervention supports.
Through our Local Area Coordinators, we will assist participants exiting the NDIS to make the most of existing mainstream services, like health and education.
If your circumstances change, and you need the NDIS again, you can reapply for access to the Scheme.
Plan support flexibility
During the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, we made some changes to plan flexibility, so that all participants could use their core supports budget flexibly, to purchase the services and supports they needed.
Core supports budgets will continue to be flexible. Once independent assessments are used to build individual NDIS plans, we will introduce greater plan flexibility. This means the current split of funding between core, capacity building and capital budgets will be removed.
Participants will be able to exercise genuine choice and control over their plan funding, to use their funding in ways that best suit them.
High cost supports like specialist disability accommodation or other high cost capital supports will continue to be fixed supports, and not flexible plan supports. Where funds can’t be used flexibly this will be clearly explained.
Operational guidelines – from July 2020
We’re working to make understanding the NDIS simpler for everyone. Participants and the disability community have told us that the operational guidelines aren’t easy to use or understand. We are improving the guidelines by:
- changing the words we use in the guidelines to make them easier to read
- breaking the guidelines into smaller parts, so it’s easier to find information
- improving the way they are presented on our website so they are easier to find and use
The guidelines will become a single source of truth on how the NDIA makes decisions, for both participants and staff.
The reframed operational guidelines won’t change the NDIS rules, or how the NDIS works. To make sure we’re getting it right, we’ve tested the guidelines with participants and the sector, to make sure that they are going to work for the people who use them.
If we publish a new guideline that does mean a change, we will be clear and transparent about the change.
We are starting with a few guidelines and working with staff, participants and organisations, to get feedback on how we are doing to make sure that they are going to work for the people who use them. This means we will continue to improve the process as we go.
We’ll publish the updated guidelines progressively on our website, over the next 12 months.
You can see the operational guidelines and we welcome feedback via the website.
Participant check-ins – from August 2020
During the COVID-19 pandemic, participants told us they appreciated a check-in phone call from their Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or NDIA planner, to make sure they had the right plan and supports in place.
We know that the annual plan review process can be a source of stress and anxiety for some participants. Instead, we’ll check in with participants on how their plan is going, and discuss what type of review is needed.
Through the participant check-in approach, we will move away from plan length dictated by arbitrary dates. Instead, plans will be based on life stages. We will “check in” with participants on their progress to make sure the supports in place continue to meet participants’ functional capacity and needs, and start a conversation about whether participants need a new plan, some minor tweaks, or a renewal of their existing plan.
Our goal in continuing with participant check-ins is to make sure our staff can focus on having quality conversations with participants about which review will work best, based on a participant’s reasonable and necessary support needs. It is important to note that offering the same plan or a plan with minor changes may not be right for all participants.
A new ICT platform – coming in 2021
We’re rolling out a new digital platform, to support the initiatives outlined in the NDIA Corporate Plan and Participant Service Improvement Plan.
The new digital platform brings all of our systems together, and means participants will be able to view and track the status of their plan, or any other interaction with the NDIA, like a review or a complaint. The new platform will also help participants to access to their information, record their progress, and keep us up to date they are going working toward their goals, without having to do a plan review.
For participant convenience, there will be more online forms, making it easier for participants to share important information with us.
An easy to use mobile app will be released and we are exploring options for real time claims – making it easier to use and manage your NDIS funds, reducing paperwork and improving our online services.