This chapter discusses issues relating to the governance of the Scheme and
some of the broader systemic issues confronting Australian governments and the
Agency in their stewardship of the Scheme. The systemic issues considered in
this chapter are areas where either the committee has not received substantial
evidence, or areas where policies, funding and responsibilities are still being
developed. The committee foresees these issues will form the substantive part
of the committee's work plan for the next 12 months.
Governance and strategic directions
1 July 2015 marked the second anniversary of the launch of the biggest
social reform in Australia in over 30 years. While launched in only eight trials
sites, the learnings and outcomes are already significant and will be long
The committee has visited all the trial sites since the Scheme commenced
and has spoken with participants, family members, carers, providers, state and
federal officials and representatives of the National Disability Insurance
Agency (NDIA). The committee has heard the stories of how the Scheme has
changed lives and how those who interact with the participants in day to day
circumstances have witnessed the positive effects of the Scheme.
While many extraordinary things have been achieved, there are still many
challenges ahead. Not least among these is the finalisation of the bilateral
agreements for transition.
Finalising bilateral agreements
As highlighted in the committee's first report, the task confronting not
just the Agency, but the Board, the Department of Social Services (DSS), the
Independent Advisory Council, the Minister, the Disability Reform Council (DRC)
and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in developing and implementing
the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and its sister, the National
Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS), is truly immense.
The committee notes that since the commencement of the NDIS, COAG has
issued five communiqués that make mention of the NDIS. In its second communiqué
dated May 2014, COAG agreed to make the NDIS a standing item on all future
agendas and that the DRC would report to each COAG meeting on NDIS
implementation, including management of costs and the transition to full
At the last meeting in May 2015, COAG noted the progress made and that
jurisdictions are endeavouring to finalise transition bilateral agreements by the
end of August 2015 for national rollout of the Scheme. It also noted that
Western Australia’s agreement will be made later to take account of the
evaluation of its trials.
The committee's first report to the Parliament provided 17
recommendations listing the committee's concerns and suggestions on the
implementation of the NDIS.
Many of these recommendations centred largely on issues related to the
initial implementation—in most cases teething issues—trying to ensure that
those who need the supports are able to access them appropriately. The
committee welcomed the Government response to the report and its recommendations,
noting that the Government agreed or agreed-in-principle to all the
recommendations and notes that the Commonwealth, the NDIA and jurisdictions are
working together to address them.
The committee notes that NSW and Victoria have now agreed bilateral
plans with the Commonwealth. However, with less than 10 months to the
implementation of the transition phase of the Scheme on 1 July 2016, a number
of the transitional bilateral agreements have yet to be agreed. In the
committee's last report, Recommendation 13 proposed 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
While it is hugely important these agreements are done properly and done
well to ensure risk is mitigated and that they are fit for purpose for all
concerned—particularly the Commonwealth—it is also, in such a nascent market, important
to promote confidence and certainty for all involved.
Equally important is that the agreements are finalised and the contents
of them made known widely so the sector can prepare itself adequately to adapt
and grow. This by far is the most pressing issue the committee has repeatedly
heard from all areas of the sector, particularly when the timeframe for
commencement of full Scheme in most states is 1 July 2018.
The committee recommends that the Government, through the Disability
Reform Council, make all haste with the finalisation all of the bilateral
agreements for the transition phase of the National Disability Insurance
Reinvigoration of the National Disability Strategy
Finalisation is also required on the roles and responsibilities for Tier
2 services (Information, Linkages and Capacity building (ILC)) and access to
mainstream services. Both were recommendations in the last committee report.
A consistent issue raised by many witnesses is that of 'gaps in service',
both for individuals who were found 'ineligible' for the Scheme and required
access to Tier 2/ILC supports and where mainstream services have been withdrawn.
This affects access to a range of services such as medical and education
The committee's first report recommended the following in regard to
3.72 The committee heard evidence that 'gaps in service'
have been identified in each of the trial sites. The committee recommends that
further work be undertaken by the Independent Advisory Council which is
well-placed to identify and inform the Agency about where there are gaps in
service and possible options for addressing these shortfalls.
6.76 The committee recommends that the Ministerial
Disability Reform Council expedite roles and responsibilities and any funding
arrangements for Tier 2 services.
Nevertheless, the committee is aware that a number of initiatives are
being progressed to assist the sector develop its long term sustainability. For
example, the DSS led Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy
(the Strategy), and the refocusing of the Sector Development Fund, and the NDIA's
Outcome Framework are all seen by the committee as important structural
Recommendations 2 and 15 on 'gaps in services' and expediting roles and
responsibilities and any future funding arrangements for Tier 2 services are
proving elusive in reaching an outcome. Obviously these issues are closely tied
to the outcomes of the bilaterals. Nevertheless, the longer they persist
unresolved, the more detrimental their absence becomes. The committee's
from its 2014 report also focused on the importance of bilateral negotiations
coming to a timely conclusion.
The committee acknowledges the work of the DRC in advancing the Strategy
and commends the Independent Advisory Council (the Council) on its work in
examining these issues. In its response to the committee's recommendation 3, the
...[T]hat the NDIS sits within the broader commitment by
governments to advance the interests of people with disability...as outlined in
the National Disability Strategy (NDS)...through the commitment to implementation
of the NDIS, all governments have agreed that the NDIS should not replace other
service systems but should instead reinforce the obligations of mainstream and
other service delivery systems...
The Council also highlights that the NDS is an important part of the
disability sector that is intertwined with its development, and that the NDS' overarching
ten year strategic policy framework (National Disability Strategy 2010-2020) needs
to be reinvigorated to support the NDIS:
The Council recommends that a concerted effort is needed from
all governments to reinvigorate the NDS, including implementing a robust
outcomes framework which should sync with the NDIS outcomes framework that is
now being trialled.
The committee agrees with the Council that the successful realisation of
the NDS remains critical for the implementation of the NDIS and that
reinvigorating the NDS will help to ensure it delivers on its stated
In addition, it is envisaged that by undertaking this refocusing of the
NDS, with the roles and responsibilities clearly delineated before transition
and full scheme, will go to ensure that people don't fall through the cracks
between the NDIS and state-based systems. This is particularly important when
finalising the arrangements for Tier 2 and continued access to state and
territory mainstream services that have declined in some states.
The committee recommends that the Government, through the Disability
Reform Council, agree effective roles and responsibilities including funding regarding
Information, Linkages and Capacity building (Formerly Tier 2 supports) and
access to Mainstream services.
Challenges for the NDIS Board
Over the last two years, the NDIS Board has steered the Agency through
challenging and uncharted waters. The Board has been able to deliver the
initial stages of the NDIS on time and within budget. This committee has
observed, received evidence and commented on aspects of the implementation the
Scheme during this period. The Board's Chairman, Mr Bruce Bonyhady, in the
Agency's first annual report notes that "evidence given to the Joint
Standing Committee on the NDIS...shows there are aspects of the Scheme that need
to be improved" and that "the NDIA is deliberately being built as a
learning organisation that grows on the basis of evidence."
The committee commends Mr Bonyhady on his and the Board's achievements and
welcomes their continued engagement with the committee.
As the Scheme develops from initial implementation towards full
operation, the requirements of the Agency and the Board evolve and change. Under
Section 107 of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 ('the
Act'), the Commonwealth Minister has responsibility for ensuring the Board has
the skills, capabilities and experience to oversee the Scheme, particularly in
respect of commercial and insurance expertise and oversight of large-scale
operations together with a 'lived experience'.
In July this year the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator
the Hon Mitch Fifield, informed the committee that he had written to his state
and territory counterparts in the DRC with a proposal for the upcoming NDIA
Board appointment process as the current terms of the Board members expire on
30 June 2016.
The Minister's letter notes that 'the Board would require skills suited
to specific challenges of the transition phase, including strategy, insurance,
risk, corporate governance, and implementation as well as experience in large
enterprises of an equivalent national scale and complexity'–skills that can
manage a $22 billion budget. 
As such, the Minister's letter notes and provides a copy of a
consultancy report by KordaMentha that were engaged to conduct a review and
provide advice on the skills and experience requirements for the Board for the
The committee recognises that it is important that the Board maintains, develops
and acquires the necessary skillset to run and manage the strategic priorities
of the NDIS into the next phase and beyond.
Challenges for the Agency
Much of the first report dealt with how well the Agency was progressing with
implementing the initial phase of the NDIS. Additionally, the report focused on
how the NDIA interfaced with participants, family members, carers, service
providers and the community at large, including all aspects of the NDIS
governance framework, ministerial and departmental demands.
The task was daunting, not to mention astoundingly demanding. The committee
recognises the significant effort that the Agency has expended to overcome challenges
and achieve the results it has over the last two years. With the majority of the
committee's first report recommendations falling to the Agency, it has managed
a significant process of reform and incremental improvement based on the
evidence and recommendations put forward.
It is evident from the Agency's response to the committee's report and the
work it has undertaken over the last year that it has taken on board many of
the suggested changes that the committee recommended. For example, improved planning,
clearer communications, website upgrade and better support for providers.
Nevertheless, it is important that the final outcome that the Agency is
striving to deliver is that those who need and require disability services are
supported, and that those services they need are provided in a clear and timely
fashion. The primary issue facing the Agency over the coming 18 months will be
its ability to expand quickly to provide the necessary services across Australia.
A high standard of recruitment and development of a workforce that is able to
provide quality services will certainly assess the Agency's resilience and
It is equally important that the Agency ensures that there is confidence
and transparency in its processes, particularly as it manages all the
administrative functions of the Board, the Independent Advisory Council and the
Independent Scheme Actuary. Clarity of roles and responsibilities will be
paramount as the Scheme expands, ensuring the Scheme is delivered on time and
within budget. Likewise, security of federal, state and territory support and funding
must remain clear, confidence for participants, providers and the nascent
National Injury Insurance Scheme
The Productivity Commission's ('the Commission') original report into Disability
Care and Support detailed proposals for the establishment of two nationwide
insurance schemes: a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and a National
Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS).
The Commission proposed that the NIIS would be a 'federation' of
accident insurance schemes for new catastrophic injuries, drawing on
arrangements already in place around Australia and extending these arrangements
to meet a national minimum benchmark.
The Commission 'deliberately' recommended two separate schemes,
identifying distinctive characteristics of catastrophic injury schemes. The
be a fully funded insurance accident scheme which would reduce
the cost of the NDIS;
utilise existing expertise and institutions of accident
set the rate of premiums with the aim of reducing risky behaviour
and local risks; and
cover a broader range of health costs associated with
catastrophic injuries, such as acute care, medical services and rehabilitation
Furthermore, the Commission noted there are many existing functional
schemes that could be nationally standardised, resulting in the aforementioned
federated approach to the NIIS. This differs from the national approach to the
NDIS. The potential 'neatness' of rolling these schemes into the NDIS would
require significant legislated change. The Commission flagged this as an issue
to possibly revisit during the proposed review of the NIIS in 2020. However,
the Commission also recommended that the NIIS and the NDIA should work closely
As part of the committee's establishing resolution into examining the
NDIS it was also tasked with monitoring the development and progression of the
NIIS. The committee has held a private briefing and sought information from
time to time with the relevant areas of the Treasury to remain informed of
progress on the NIIS. The committee will continue to do this so the NIIS begins
to roll out.
Beyond the major governance issues, there are a number of ongoing
systemic matters that the committee will be continuing to examine over the next
year. These systemic issues are:
Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC);
Illness/Psychosocial disability; and
As noted in Chapter 1, accommodation continues to be a key concern for
all Australians, and was raised repeatedly with the committee by participants,
families, carers, advocacy groups, providers and other stakeholders. Given this
is a major issue, which remains unresolved, the committee intends to conduct a
roundtable on accommodation in the second half of 2015. It is intended that the
committee will report specifically on the issue shortly thereafter.
Information, linkages and capacity
The development of the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC)
framework, formerly known as Tier 2, has the potential to address a number of
outstanding areas of the Scheme. It is anticipated the interface with mainstream
services, mental health and local area coordination among other things will be
funded under this framework.
According to the Government, the ILC is the 'component of the NDIS that
provides information, linkages and referrals to efficiently and effectively
connect those people with disability, their families and carers with
appropriate disability, community and mainstream supports.' It is not tied to
an individual's NDIS funded package.
The Department of Social Services (DSS) has undertaken substantial
pieces of work of the framework, including a major consultation exercise early
in 2015 that found that the ILC should cover the following areas:
Make the interface between ILC and mainstream service
Use language and approaches, and provide services, that meet the
diverse needs and circumstances of people with disability
Better explain how ILC will support people with mental illness
Better explain what kinds of decision supports, safeguard
supports and capacity building would be provided under ILC
Better explain what local area coordinators will do and how they
will work one on one with people with disabilities and carers (even if they are
not scheme participants); and
Talk more about what ILC will do to support carers.
The consultation also noted suggestions on things that were essential to
making the ILC work effectively
Keep the things that work well and build on existing good
Support services that are local
Help mainstream services support people with disability
Make sure that ILC is responsive to need and demand; and
Keep talking to people with disability and their families and
carers about how the scheme should work. 
Until the conclusion of the Government's development of the ILC, which includes
the negotiation of the bilateral agreements with the states and territories,
the committee is not in a position to comment on the framework, but will do so
when it is complete. However, the committee repeats recommendation 11 in this
report, as well as recommendation 13 in the committee's first progress report
to the Parliament. That is, the committee calls for the expedient resolution of
the bilateral process negotiations to inform the roles, responsibilities and
funding arrangements of all stakeholders.
The role of advocacy
No one is in any doubt about the need for people with disability to have
access to support and assistance to empower them in their journey in the NDIS.
How this is achieved is still yet to be fully established.
There have been a number of developments concerning the role of advocacy
and the NDIS since the committee's last report. In that report, the committee
considered the role of advocacy after hearing from a number of witnesses at
trial site public hearings. The committee subsequently recommended that the
Disability Reform Council (DRC) should urgently resolve the issue:
5.97 The committee notes the importance of the role of
advocacy services in ensuring quality plans and supporting participants in the
planning process. The committee recommends that certainty regarding the role
and support for advocacy services in the NDIS be urgently resolved through the
Ministerial Disability Reform Council.
The government agreed with the committee's recommendation, and flagged
the review of the National Disability Advocacy Framework and the ongoing work
being undertaken in the Disability Reform Council (DRC) on the issue:
Agree in consultation with jurisdictions
[T]he government notes this recommendation of the committee
and can advise that the ministerial disability reform council has considered
these issues and that further work will be undertaken on the relationship
between the NDIS and advocacy in early 2015, including a review of the national
disability advocacy framework.
A review of the Framework was recently undertaken with submissions
closing on 24 July 2015. On the basis of the April 2015 COAG DRC decision to
fund decision supports and safeguard supports and capacity-building for
participants, including support to approach and interact with disability
supports and access mainstream services,
the Review's discussion paper asked a number of questions on how
advocacy and the NDIS should interact going forward.
In line with the Productivity Commission's 2011 report, the DRC also
agreed that systemic advocacy and legal review would be funded outside of the
The committee welcomed the decision to extend the funding to providers
of the National Disability Advocacy Program which was due to finish on June 30
2015. This has been extended to 30 June 2016. Minister Fifield's announcement
in March 2015 also gave assurance to the sector that their role in relation to
the NDIS would continue:
The extension allows advocacy groups to continue supporting
people with disability while planning takes place for the future of the NDAP,”
As the NDIS rolls out across Australia, NDAP providers will
continue to assist people with disability to participate in decisions that
impact their lives, including helping them access both the NDIS and mainstream
The committee held a roundtable session on Advocacy in March 2015 to
discuss the types of advocacy required for the effective operation of the
Scheme, as well as the role of advocates in assisting participants to navigate
the Scheme. The central theme again was uncertainty. Witnesses acknowledged
the review of the National Disability Advocacy Framework, but at that stage had
not been invited to participate in the process.
All of those who contributed discussed the importance of providing
assistance to people at each stage in the process: from eligibility, to
pre-planning to support and assistance around the design of the plan. Advocates
also pressed the importance of advocacy being funded on a national basis and
its role and place in the system defined.
Witnesses explained that the referral process, whereby people with
disability are put in touch with advocates, is inconsistent. Witnesses with
experience in the Tasmanian trial site said that the received referrals from
LACs employed outside the NDIA quite frequently, but not a lot from LACs
directly employed by the NDIA.
The role of LACs, planners and advocates has yet to be decided across
the country. The particular model of local area coordination that is adopted
by the Agency will have a direct impact on the role of advocates in the
Scheme. In WA, coordination and support is often provided by a service
provider. The crossover between this model and independent advocacy in supporting
decision making and ensuring safeguards is as yet unknown.
The committee continues to support the formal inclusion of advocacy in
the Scheme and awaits with interest the outcome of the Framework review, as
well as the decision on which model of local area coordination will be
Mental health or psychosocial illness is another area where funding and policy
development is contingent on bilateral negotiations with the states and
territories and is yet to be fully established. However, that is not to say
that DSS or the Agency have not been very active while some of the
responsibility for delivery of services is agreed. The committee also spoke to
representatives from peak bodies in 2014 as part of the ongoing discussion and
The lack of a final approach has not prevented people with psychosocial
disabilities from entering the Scheme or receiving services. Indeed, the
committee heard from a number of witnesses whose lives had been transformed as
a result of services received under the Scheme, sometimes for the first time.
However, similar to ILC and housing, the committee is not in a position to
assess the approach taken with regard to how mental illness as an issue is
treated within the Scheme until there are some concrete decisions made. The
committee intends to consider the issue in significant depth throughout the
next 12 months.
The committee understands how critical an adequate supply of skilled
workers will be as the Scheme rolls out around the country. The estimates of
the actual numbers required vary, but what is not in doubt is the
transformative effort required to satisfy the needs of the Scheme. There is
already significant policy development being undertaken by DSS and the Agency,
which is set out in the National Disability Insurance Scheme Integrated
Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy released in June 2015. The Strategy
sets out a number of areas where the NDIA and the Commonwealth Government will
support the sector in developing the skills and capacity of the workforce.
Similar to the other systemic issues, the committee intends to monitor the
developments throughout the coming 12 months.
This report, like its predecessor has identified the many achievements
of the NDIS to date. The eight trials are progressing well and over 20 322 people
have been found eligible for support by the NDIS. Of these, 17 991 have had
plans approved. The committee heard many stories from all over the country,
from Canberra to Tennant Creek, to Busselton, that participants' lives are
changing for the better.
The committee heard from participants like Dion Beasley, in Tennant
Creek. Mr Beasley, who established his own T-shirt brand 'Cheeky Dogs', and who
is now a participant in the NDIS, noted that he now has more independence while
his carer Joie Boulter has more time for herself. Mr Beasly is now mobile and
able to independently visit friends and family having greater choice and
control of his life.
This report makes a number of recommendations designed to improve elements
of the Scheme. The recommendations are based on the evidence—documented in
chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this report—that the committee has collected in the ACT,
West Australian and Northern Territory trial sites. They are designed to assist
the Scheme in its next steps towards transition and finally full scheme.
The committee's forward work plan
This report, like its predecessor, has identified a number of ongoing challenges
that face the NDIS. These relate to a wide and complex range of issues that continue
to require a conciliatory and coordinated effort from the federal and state
governments, the Board, the NDIA, service providers, advocates and key peak
Many of the issues raised in the first report continue to need
addressing. Some are a matter of course, whereas others, such as the linkages
to mainstream services and Tier 2 (ILC) supports, are more pressing, such as the
finalisation of the transition bilateral agreements. The following list of
issues that was compiled last year will continue to require the committee's
the transition of people from state supports to the NDIS;
the development and readiness of the service providers to support
the pace of Scheme rollout;
the capacity of the disability sector workforce to support the
pace of Scheme rollout;
the interface of the NDIS with mainstream services;
the definition, development and funding of Tier 2 (ILC) services;
resolving transport issues for both participants and service
supporting people with disability to achieve greater economic and
social participation through developing community supports;
supporting NDIS participants to find suitable accommodation;
assisting Indigenous people living with disabilities; and
providing ongoing advocacy.
The committee will continue to monitor these and other issues as part of
its forward work plan. Over the coming year, the committee anticipates that it
will examine more discrete issues such as accommodation, mental health and Indigenous
engagement. The committee will also be looking to revisit trial sites to check
on progress and to hear from participants and providers on how the Scheme is
The Hon. Bruce
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page