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.
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.
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.
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%.