NDIS Independent Assessments - 18/03/2021

18 March 2021



I rise today to talk about the NDIS and specifically the introduction of independent assessments. This is the most fundamental change to the NDIS since it was introduced. What this means is that rather than using the advice of medical professionals who people with disability have worked with, perhaps for their own whole lives, this enforces on them an assessment by the government's own medical professionals that is compulsory. This really undermines the whole concept of choice and control. Perhaps obviously the disability community are extremely concerned about this and have raised these concerns. I want to note in particular People with Disability Australia, the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and Every Australian Counts. They're all organisations that were involved in lobbying to get the NDIS set-up and have raised really serious concerns about this. The Commonwealth Ombudsman has also raised concern about these changes, these fundamental changes will change the way the NDIS works, being rushed through in this way.

The minister has said that he is listening. He says that he's going around the country listening but he's also ruled out that there will be any changes to this proposal. Well, that's not listening. We need to listen to people with disability about these changes that are fundamental to their quality of life. I think so often the problem with the NDIS under this government is that we're not trusting people with disability to make decisions about their own lives. That was the whole purpose. The whole principle guiding the NDIS was supposed to be about—choice and control. But, sadly, I think the thing that we see so much is it is driven by cost cutting. It is driven by this ridiculous approach that seems to say that people with disability are trying to get something that they shouldn't be entitled to. Why would you want something that you don't need when you're talking about disability supports? We need to listen to people. This is insulting and disgraceful to people with disability. It is absolutely heartbreaking that this NDIS that was promised has not delivered that choice and control to so many people. For some people it has made a really positive difference but now they're living in fear that these independent assessments will come in and change the things that their own medical professionals have recommended for them.

I urge the minister to genuinely listen to the disability community and to rethink these changes because it is very damaging. It is time that we saw people with disability have the actual choice and control that was promised by the NDIS.