On 28th August 2020, the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Hon Stuart Robert announced the “most substantial” reforms to the NDIS since its establishment. The package includes implementation of the Australian Government’s Response to the 2019 Tune Review and the new NDIS Participant Service Guarantee. One part of the reform will see NDIS participants referred to a single independent assessor from 2021 to determine their eligibility. It is being advised that independent assessments will herald greater equity in terms of access to the NDIS, as there will be no out of pocket expenses for the initial assessments to prove eligibility. However, from early 2021, this independent assessment will also become a mandatory requirement of the NDIS Plan review process. Currently, participants require reports from multiple healthcare and therapeutic practitioners of their choosing and many participants have trusted, safe and long relationships with their practitioners.
WWDA Executive Director Carolyn Frohmader said:
“Nationally, women and girls make up less than 37% of all NDIS participants, with some jurisdictions having even lower figures. WWDA is very concerned that this new ‘independent assessment’ process is a gender-blind move with no evidence to suggest that this focus on ‘capability’ as opposed to ‘disability’ works for our community. This mandatory move will have dire and unintended consequences for women and girls with disability including making access to the scheme more difficult and taking away choice and agency from women with a disability. WWDA is extremely worried about women and girls with a disability in group homes and other segregated settings who we are certain have not been consulted on the appropriateness or implications of this move.”
WWDA Director Policy and Programs Dr Trish Mitra-Kahn added:
“WWDA urges the Minister for the NDIS to put disabled victim-survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence first and asks why a victim-survivor’s long-standing therapeutic team is no longer good enough? Mandating victim-survivors to disclose details of their trauma histories in a short assessment to people they don’t know is re-traumatising, not based on safety-first principles and has no place within the policy architecture of a Government that is committed to addressing our national epidemic of violence against women”.
WWDA urges the Minister to halt the move and to urgently consult with the disability sector and broader community.
WWDA will be seeking a meeting with the Minister to further highlight our concerns.