What the Latest NDIS Report Means For You

The NDIS recently celebrated its 9th birthday by welcoming almost 20,000 new participants in the quarter ending 30 June 2022. The latest National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) quarterly report shows 534,655 people in Australia are receiving individual funding packages for disability-related supports.

That has grown from just 29,719 participants in 2015-2016, after three years of a trial NDIS.

National Disability Insurance Agency acting CEO Dr Lisa Studdert said the scheme has reached a significant milestone. The data demonstrates the NDIA’s progress in working with participants, their support networks, and the disability sector to overcome challenges and support participants across all aspects of their NDIS experience, she said.

“I’m pleased today’s NDIS Quarterly Report shows the NDIS is supporting 534,655 participants,” Dr Studdert said in releasing the quarterly review on 1 August.

“It highlights the important work the NDIA is doing to continuously improve the experience for participants.”

Over the past five years, payments for supports have grown from $2,238 million to $28,661 million. More importantly for individuals, on average payments per participant also increased from $32,300 in 2016-2017 to $55,200 – which is good news for anyone on an NDIS plan.

What’s new?

The report revealed of 19,291 new participants who joined the NDIS in the last quarter of financial year 2021-2022:

  • 44% (8,419) were children, taking the total of NDIS participants younger than 7 to 82,863;
  • 1%, or 1,762 new participants, identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people for a total of 38,846 participants; and
  • 3% (1,792) identified as being from a culturally and linguistically diverse community, taking that total to 49,201 participants.

The report shows participant outcomes have continued to improve under the scheme. More children are now able to enjoy  support for friendships, including at school, while older children report feel a greater sense of choice and control in their lives.

More people with a disability aged 15 and older are also becoming increasingly involved in community activities, learning new things, and becoming a part of their local communities. They also report improved access to health services.

 

Coping with COVID

One of the key elements singled out in the report was the NDIA’s continued work to support the disability sector deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As well as helping facilitate vaccinations and rapid antigen tests, the NDIA supported additional measures to ensure providers could continue to maintain services amid staff disruptions caused by the illness and the need to isolate.

 

Weathering the storm

The report also details how the NDIA helped ensure essential care could continue in the middle of devastating floods in NSW and Queensland.

“The NDIA and partners worked alongside disability support organisations and support workers to provide essential care to participants affected by floods,” Dr Studdert said.

 

Working together

A recent amendment to the NDIS Act enshrined a commitment that “people with a disability are central to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and should be included in a co-design capacity”.

In the June quarter, the NDIA said its Co-design Advisory group continued to meet and provide advice. “The NDIA remains committed to working closely with participants, their families and carers to co-design improvements to the NDIS,” Dr Studdert said. 

 

Other changes

On 1 July 2022, several changes also came into effect including:

  • Updated terminology, including replacing “plan review” with “plan reassessment” to avoid confusion;
  • Introducing plan variations to make it easier and faster for participants to have their plan adjusted in specific situations;
  • Adding protections for participants who want to use a plan manager; and
  • Price limits for supports delivered by disability support workers increased by 9%.

September 2019 NDIS quarterly report: what’s working, what’s not

Life-changing opportunities

With 114,000 of the current 310,000 participants receiving funded support for the first time ever, this means access to life changing opportunities for a significant cohort of people living with disability across Australia.

Challenges and frustrations aside, it confirms the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is committed to providing a scheme that’s inclusive and equitable, creating new and exciting opportunities for people living with disability to enhance independence, and increase social and economic participation. As one of the most important social reforms in the country’s history, this is an unprecedented time for disability service consumers in Australia – and that’s exciting!

Automatic plan extension

One of the most serious concerns for participants and providers has been one plan expiring before another one has been approved. This quarter, September 2019, the NDIA began automatically extending all plans due to run out within the next 7 days by 28 days. While this hasn’t delivered a perfect solution, it’s a very welcome start.

Longer plan duration

Subsequent to the release of the quarterly report Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, announced in November 2019 that changes to NDIS planning will provide eligible participants with the option to request longer plan durations of up to three years.

‘We have listened to participants who have told us they would like greater plan flexibility, particularly the option of longer-term plans, when their support needs are unlikely to change,’ he said.

‘A longer plan duration means participants can carry on accessing supports without needing to go through frequent plan reviews and can plan for longer-term goals. It will also provide greater certainty for NDIS providers.’

The longer-term plans are designed for participants who are in a stable situation with their support needs unlikely to change, are confident using their funding to achieve their goals and are focused on longer-term goals such as learning new skills, moving into or maintaining employment or becoming more active in the community.

This is a particularly welcome announcement from participants working towards goals of independent living and transition to sustainable, supported employment.

Cutting red tape through joint planning

Since May 2019, the NDIA has been trialing joint planning, which enables the participant, Local Area Coordinator (LAC) and NDIA planner to come together in order to discuss and agree on the plan. This initiative is designed to increase a participant’s understanding of what has been approved in their plan while supporting on the spot approval.

It has delivered faster and more effective decision making which is a win-win for the participant and the NDIA.

Making it work is up to all of us

The scale, pace and nature of these NDIS changes are unprecedented and provide an opportunity to substantially improve the wellbeing of people living with disability and Australians more generally. Making it work isn’t just the responsibility of the NDIA, it’s up to all of us – government, participants, families and carers, providers and the community.

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