Australia

Government announces NDIS review to cut wait times

NDIS Minister Stuart Robert wants to cut waiting times for participants. Source: AAP

The laws and rules guiding the National Disability Insurance Scheme will go under the microscope, in an effort to reduce wait times for participants.

The government has launched a review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme which aims to reduce wait times for participants. 

NDIS Minister Stuart Robert has appointed former finance department secretary David Tune to review the scheme which has been plagued by complaints about lengthy waits for funding for services and equipment.

Mr Robert said timeframes in some areas were unacceptable but isn't suggesting what would be an appropriate deadline to approve applications. 

He has previously said there should be a cap of 50 days set for children accessing support - less than half the average wait time of 127 days. 

disability
People with disabilities face an average wait time of 127 days to access support.
Pixabay

The review will inform a new set of standards known as the Participant Service Guarantee to be introduced by mid-2020.

'We are listening, and will be consulting with people with disability and their families, the disability services sector, ministers and officials from Commonwealth and state governments and the National Disability Insurance Agency as part of this review," Mr Robert said in a statement on Monday.

Disability sector welcomes review

The peak body for non-government disability service providers welcomed the review which they hoped would address the red tape challenges. 

National Disability Services Acting CEO David Moody, said providers and participants had been frustrated by delays in decision making at the agency. 

"The impact can be that because they're not able to get access to assistive technology such as a wheelchair or other tech as quickly as they'd like, it impacts their ability to lead an ordinary life which is the expectation of everyone in the community," Mr Moody said. 

Young disabled woman in wheelchair at home
Participants are frustrated by delays accessing support through the NDIS.
Getty Images

NDS, the peak body for non-government disability service providers, said the review should also address the opportunity to use more modern technology, planning processes, the prices set for services and participants' ability to use their funding to pay for transport.  

"The ability of people with a disability to get access to transport, particularly in remote and very remote parts of Australia which has been a challenging process."  

Mr Moody hoped the Participant Services Guarantee would give people certainty about what they should expect from the scheme.

People with Disability Australia released a statement saying it also welcomed the announcement.

"We welcome the focus on improving plans and waiting times for people with disability," PWDA's Romola Hollywood said.

"Our members, people with disability, have told us over and over that they are waiting too long for access to supports and essential equipment, and to get their plans finalised."

Consultations will begin later this month with an online survey, discussion paper and face-to-face workshops across the country.

Mr Tune retired from the public service in 2014 and has since led reviews into MPs' parliamentary entitlements and the aged care system.

"Mr Tune has a great deal of experience in reviewing important policy and is a great choice to lead this next phase of making the NDIS even better,' Mr Robert said.

In March, the government injected an extra $850 million into the scheme to respond to pay for "emerging issues" in the NDIS which is set to support up to 500,000 people over the next five years.

Additional reporting by AAP

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