2019 review of the NDIS Act and the new NDIS Participant Service Guarantee

The Australian Government has committed to delivering a Participant Service Guarantee to support positive participant experiences with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Participant Service Guarantee will set new standards for the time it takes for key steps in the NDIS process. This means there will be agreed timeframes for people to receive a decision on their request to access the NDIS, to receive an NDIS plan and to have a plan reviewed. The Participant Service Guarantee will also set standards for service for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

The 2019 review of the NDIS Act

To develop the Guarantee, the Government commissioned a review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act) to identify opportunities to make NDIS processes simpler and more straight-forward, and remove legislative barriers to positive participant and provider experiences with the NDIS.

The review was undertaken by an independent expert, Mr David Tune AO PSM. People with disability, family members, carers, advocates and providers from around Australia shared their experiences and ideas through community workshops, an online survey and by making submissions.

Mr Tune delivered the review report to Government in December 2019. It made 29 recommendations to improve the participant experience and support the delivery of the Participant Service Guarantee. The review report was published in January 2020.

A plain English summary of the Review is available.

What the review found

The NDIS is improving social and economic outcomes for many of its participants while increasing their ability to achieve their goals and aspirations. However, the review found that the rollout of the NDIS has not been smooth for all participants.

Feedback to the review showed that some participants:

  • found the transition to the NDIS confusing and frustrating, with some people saying they ‘missed’ the supports offered under state and territory systems, particularly active case management;
  • are frustrated about delays and lack of transparency around how the NDIA makes decisions;
  • want to have more support to become informed and effective consumers;
  • feel the NDIS is too complex and difficult to navigate;
  • feel they are not recognised as the experts in their disability; and
  • feel NDIA staff do not understand disability or appreciate the challenges people with disability face as part of everyday life.

The review acknowledged the work that the Australian Government and the NDIA are already doing to improve the NDIS participant experience. This work will help enhance existing systems, services, decision-making and the overall experience for NDIS participants, families and carers.

The review also found that:

  • while this work progresses, some modest improvements to the legislation and operations of the NDIS could be made to strengthen its participant focus and ensure the NDIS is fit for purpose as it moves from a transition phase to a more mature system;
  • governments need to work together to resolve outstanding policy issues;
  • the Government and the NDIA should publish a greater range of policy information, including in a wider range of accessible formats, to help participants better understand why certain decisions have been made.

The Government response to the 2019 review of the NDIS Act

The Government response to the 2019 review of the NDIS Act was released in August 2020.

An Easy Read summary of both the Review and the Response is also available.

The Government supports or supports in principle all 29 recommendations made in the review report.

The Australian Government had previously committed to legislate the Participant Service Guarantee by 1 July 2020. However, this has been delayed as consultation processes and Parliamentary processes have also been delayed due to the focus on the COVID-19 response.

The Government is committed to make the Participant Service Guarantee law at the soonest possible opportunity. In the interim, the NDIA will implement the Guarantee administratively, including reporting on its performance in meeting the Guarantee timeframes, service standards, and engagement principles. This information will be publicly available in the NDIA’s quarterly reports webpage.

The Australian Government is working with all governments and the NDIA to implement the other recommendations made in the Review. Some of these recommendations will require changes to the NDIS Act and the NDIS Rules. Public consultation on the form of those changes will occur later in 2020. Further information about how you can participate in this process will be announced in due course.

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