The Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability
Insurance Scheme ('the committee') was established on 2 December 2013 following
the passing of a resolution in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The
committee, composed of six Members and six Senators, is tasked with reviewing
the implementation, administration and expenditure of the National Disability
Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The committee's establishing resolutions require the committee to
present an annual report to the Parliament after 30 June each year on its
activities during the year. The resolutions direct the committee to include in
its report reference to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Board's
quarterly reports to the Ministerial Council and the Board's Annual Report to
the Standing Council on Disability Reform.
This is the second report from the committee examining the
implementation of the NDIS. The first report, published in July 2014, found
that the initial four trial sites were developing and, as expected from such a
momentous undertaking, were 'works in progress'. Nevertheless, the value cannot
be understated in the accounts that that the committee heard from people with
disabilities and their families as to the positive effects the Scheme is making
on their lives.
Many participants, carers, family members, providers and officials
across governments provided evidence to the committee on the benefits and
challenges facing the Scheme in its first year of operation. This report
follows its predecessor in examining the implementation and administration of the
Scheme and the preparations being undertaken in readiness for the transition
phase of the Scheme commencing from 1 July 2016.
The committee notes that both NSW and Victoria have now agreed on new
bilateral plans for the transition period to full Scheme. The committee
welcomes these developments and encourages all concerned to quickly finalise
the remaining bilateral agreements to ensure adequate time for an effective roll-out
of the Scheme.
Structure of this report
This year's report is divided in the following five chapters that cover
the committee's work activities over the past year and includes observations,
analysis and recommendations for the ongoing implementation and administration
of the NDIS.
Chapter One provides an introduction to this year's report, notes
the Australian Government's response to the committee's 2014-15 report and briefly
highlights key aspects of the NDIA's inaugural annual report. This chapter also
provides an overview of the committee's forthcoming work priorities for 2015-2016.
Chapter Two notes the progress of the original four trial sites that
began operation in July 2013 and examines the three new trial sites that
commenced on 1 July 2014.
Chapter Three explores some of the specific challenges facing participants,
particularly in regard to the planning process.
Chapter Four examines issues from a providers' perspective.
Specifically market readiness and initiatives being progressed to assist
providers and development of the market.
Chapter Five discusses issues relating to the governance of the
Scheme and some of the broader systemic issues confronting the Scheme,
Australian governments and the Agency. The chapter will conclude with the
committee's reflections, future work priorities and recommendations.
The Committee's first report
Following visits to the first four NDIS trial sites—the Hunter in New
South Wales, the Barwon region in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia—and
numerous meetings with a range of stakeholders across the disability spectrum,
the committee prepared and tabled its inaugural annual progress report into the
implementation and administration of the NDIS on 29 July 2014.
The report noted that the committee heard many positive stories from
participants, family members and carers of how the NDIS had changed their lives
for the better and were extremely grateful for the Scheme and the bipartisan
support it has across the political landscape.
The report emphasised that success is not guaranteed and that there are
numerous challenges and opportunities that need to be worked through to ensure
that people with disabilities get the support that they so desperately deserve.
The committee stressed that key to this success was the assurance of sufficient
flexibility in the Scheme to adapt to the multitude of individual disability
needs across Australia.
Importantly in this earlier stage, the committee noted the need for a
smooth transition from the former fragmented ad-hoc supports to an
all-encompassing national scheme based on individual aspiration and choice.
The committee acknowledged the role and cooperation of all governments
being pivotal to the success of the Scheme, noting that it was important that
all future bilateral negotiations and amendments to transitional arrangements
are finalised and publicised well in advance of commencement dates to ensure
and provide confidence and certainty for all stakeholders.
The committee's report made a total of 17 recommendations to the Australian
Government, the NDIA, the NDIS Independent Advisory Council and the Council of
Australian Governments (COAG) to assist in addressing areas of concern that the
committee identified and felt required attention.
The Australian Government response
The Government provided its response ('The Response') to the report and the
recommendations on 19 February 2015 (see Attachment A).
In the Response's accompanying letter to the Chair of the committee, the
Assistant Minister for Disability, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield welcomed the
report and the recommendations, acknowledging 'that the committee had
identified a number of areas where implementation, communication and
administration needs improvement'. The Minister agreed that the committee's
report 'highlighted that when implemented and delivered successfully, the NDIS
will deliver economic benefits and acknowledged that it is a significant
The Response recognised 'the important and ongoing work of the committee
in reviewing the implementation and administration of the NDIS' and affirms
that 'the Government is committed to the full, nationwide rollout of the NDIS
within its current scheduled timeframe. The Government Response also stated
that it agrees, or agrees in-principle, to all of the 17 recommendations made in
the committee's first report to Government.
The Response listed those responsible for carriage of each
recommendation and described what actions they are progressing or propose to
progress against each recommendation. Further advice on actions regarding the
recommendations was provided to the committee by the Government in an updated
"Action Plan" on
4 June 2015.
The committee commends the Government and the Agency on its positive response
to the committee's first report. The commitment to actions by the Government
and the Agency in relation to the recommendations should give participants,
carers, their family members and providers reassurance of the sincerity the
Government has to ensure the success and sustainability of the Scheme. Over
the next 12 months the committee will continue in its role to examine and
assess the implementation and administration of the Scheme and the trials. The
committee has found the regular interaction with Government and Agency
officials and representatives from peak organisations very useful and looks
forward to further updates and opportunities to discuss issues as they arise.
Also central to the committee's understanding of the nature of the implementation
has been its engagement through the public hearings with participants, their
carers and family and providers. Without this interaction, the committee's
comprehension would be significantly curtailed—for this the committee thanks
all those involved with the hearings.
NDIA's first Annual Report
As required under Section 172 of the National Disability Insurance
Scheme Act 2013 ('the Act'),
the NDIA Board published its inaugural Annual Report in October 2014 for the
financial year 2013-2014. During this period, the report noted that four trial
sites commenced operations—the Hunter in New South Wales, the Barwon region in
Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
As of 30 June 2013, the Annual Report highlighted that the NDIA identified
8 585 people with disabilities eligible for NDIS support and had approved 7
316 plans providing access to the reasonable and necessary support they
require to lead an ordinary life.
Over $130.9 million was provided to participants with an average individual
annualised NDIS package cost of $38 200 (when including the Stockton
residence in NSW) which closely aligns to the original Productivity Commission (PC)
estimate of $35 000 per plan.
Over 1 350 providers became registered with the NDIA across
the four trial sites and the NDIA expended $4.5 million of the Sector
Development Fund (SDF) on programmes and activities to assist individuals
and organisations transition from federal and state-based supports to the NDIS.
In establishing its new operational headquarters in Geelong in April
2014 the NDIS workforce expanded to 516 staff across all its operations. The
NDIA Board also reported that it established its governance procedures and
implemented an extensive risk management system. During the year the Board
also oversaw four separate reviews of elements of its operations:
review to monitor average annualised package costs.
Capability review to assess NDIA processes, systems and the
expertise of its people to deliver the NDIS roll out.
review of the optimal transition to full scheme.
Boston Consulting Group review of business capabilities to assess
what of the NDIA’s functions can be outsourced to private and non-government
The committee notes that the Board has identified a range of actions and
strategies for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Areas of focus include:
Bundling supports; (p. 51)
Working with Indigenous and CALD participants and their communities—NDIA
is currently developing both an Indigenous and Rural and Remote Service
Delivery Strategy and a CALD Strategy; (p. 51)
Trialling new operating models—the WA, NT and ACT trial sites will trial
combining planner and LAC roles; (p. 51)
Building a scalable operating model—transitioning to the full Scheme;
Improving the Agency's ICT system; (p. 60)
Developing a comprehensive disability services and supports Market
Design Strategy (possibly supported by the SDF); (p. 54)
Developing an outcomes framework which measures individual participant
outcomes; (p. 67)
Designing a lifetime cost estimator tool—to assist planners to develop
innovative ways of providing funded supports; (p. 67)
Arrangements for people who do not need funded supports; (p. 67) and
Mental health—develop strategies for supporting individuals with a
mental illness eligible for the Scheme. Work to be supported by the Independent
Advisory Council (p. 67).
The committee welcomed this forward looking agenda and noted the
advancement in these initiatives throughout the year.
The committee commends the NDIA and the Department of Social Services on
the achievements over the last two years in implementing this important work.
In particular, the committee welcomes the progress on the committee's
recommendations in improving its website and feedback processes and appreciates
receiving the reports on Gaps in Service and the Agency Service
The committee looks forward to receiving the results of ongoing work including
a number reviews yet to be completed and the release of the second NDIS Annual
Report 2014-2015, due to be released in the coming months.
The committee's focus
In preparing this report, and in conducting its activities, the
committee is mindful of what it is tasked to do and the responsibilities of
those who administer and implement the Scheme.
In considering how the Scheme is progressing and the current issues, the
committee has decided that this second report will concentrate on the
the implementation of the three newest trial sites in terms of
the transitional arrangements at each location;
the Agency's processes in developing the operational arrangements
to administer the Scheme and assist the planners;
the planning process; and
the associated issues that impact on the individual experiences
of participants, carers, families and service providers.
The committee's future work plan will focus on a range of key issues
that are integral to the successful rollout of the NDIS. These may include, but
are not limited to: workforce capacity; contestable market sector; training of
individuals to work in the disability sector, such as allied health workers and
training of people who live with a disability to participate in the workforce;
supply of adequate and appropriate accommodation; the supply of specialist
equipment; managing complex, episodic and high needs; the provision of Information,
Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) services; the provision of mainstream
services, such as health and education; and community capacity building.
Accommodation continues to be a key concern for all Australians. Like
all Australians, people living with a disability also aspire to control and improve
their own environment. There is a lack of safe, secure, affordable and
appropriate accommodation for people with disabilities. A lack of adequate
accommodation can limit people’s ability to fully participate in society and live
an ordinary life like any other Australian. If the matter of accommodation
remains unresolved, it could significantly impinge on people’s ability to fully
exercise their individual choice and control, impacting on their ability to
improve their quality of life and care.
As accommodation has been repeatedly raised by all stakeholders, the
committee has sought advice from the relevant government agencies on this
issue. The committee notes that the Department of Social Services is currently
undertaking work of its own work on accommodation, including funding and
supporting innovative housing pilot programs for people with disabilities. The
committee also notes that other committees have conducted inquiries and tabled
reports on housing, accommodation or related issues.
Given this is a major issue the committee intends not to address it in
this report but a separate report. The committee has conducted a roundtable in
the second half of 2015 followed by a submissions process and hearings, with a
final report and recommendations to be tabled in the first half of 2016.
The committee's activities
Since the last committee report there has been a considerable amount of
activity to report progress on.
The committee met 17 times over the period 1 August 2014 to
31 July 2015. Of these, 12 were private meetings held each Wednesday
of the joint parliamentary sitting weeks. While the details of these
proceedings are confidential,
the committee can report that it conducted numerous private briefings
over the period
July 2014-July 2015. The committee held sessions with the NDIA and its Board as
well as with representatives from the Department of Social Services and the
Treasury, state government officials and key stakeholders. The committee
extends its thanks to all those who attended these briefings.
The committee has been active visiting the four NDIS trial sites
established since 1 July 2014. The Scheme is now also operating in the
Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the Northern Territory (NT) and at two sites
in Western Australia (WA).
The committee heard from NDIS service providers, participants, families
and carers. The committee has also discussed operational matters with the NDIA,
the NDIA Board, the NDIS Independent Advisory Council, both Scheme Actuaries
and the relevant State and Federal government officials.
The committee notes that in the last 12 months the NDIA Board has
published four quarterly reports to the Ministerial Disability Reform Council (DRC)
presenting data on these trial sites, and is due to present their final
quarterly report for the 2014-2015 as well as its second annual progress report
to the Minister and the MDRC in September.
NDIS public hearings and trial site
The committee has conducted the following public hearings since its
March in Brisbane on sector readiness and advocacy;
March in Canberra on the ACT trial site and advocacy;
April in Busselton, WA on the WA NDIS My Way trial site;
9 April in Perth Hills, WA on the WA NDIS trial site and the WA
NDIS My Way trial site;
5 June in Canberra, on the implementation and administration of
19 June in Canberra, on the implementation and administration of
The Chair and Ms Macklin also visited Tennant Creek, in the
Barkly trial site, on 20 July 2015. During this visit, they spoke to
participants and Indigenous community groups about their experiences with the
Scheme and the challenges of delivering services in remote locations.
21 July in Darwin, on the NT trial site and the NDIS rollout in
A list of those who gave evidence at these hearings is at Appendix 1.
The transcripts of evidence from the hearings are available on the committee’s
The evidence taken at the hearings allowed the committee to gain a broader picture
of how the trial sites and the Scheme is progressing, the improvements that
have been made and lessons that have been learnt.
The committee advertised its intention to conduct hearings at each trial
site through the national and relevant local media. The Parliamentary website
also provided further advertising of the hearings and provided access for a
registration process that was managed by the committee secretariat.
In addition, the committee has received numerous submissions and items
of correspondence relating to the NDIS, the trial sites and the rollout. A list
of correspondence received can be found in Appendix 3. The documents can also be
found on the committee's website.
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