In November 2020, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) released two consultation papers seeking feedback on plans to introduce Independent Assessments and changes to NDIS planning.
Possability sought feedback from families and participants to inform submissions we were preparing about Independent Assessments and changes to the planning process. The online survey was held over two weeks in February 2021 and completed by 87 respondents. We also facilitated two focus groups with participants we support to gain their input.
A big thank you to everyone who provided their feedback; your support has revealed valuable insights.
Will Independent Assessments tell the full picture?
Independent Assessments will be undertaken by allied health professionals who do not know the participant. Families and participants were concerned about the accuracy of the assessment given the lack of knowledge of the participant’s history and the limited time allowed for assessments (three hours on average).
“I cannot see how an Independent Assessor will be able to fully understand my son and his needs in a one-off assessment. My son has a number of allied health professionals who have been in his/our life since he was 5 months old. Other participants with complex disabilities would have a team of allied health professionals who know and fully understand such complex needs…I am a Mother of a 16yo young man who is Deaf, has Autism and an Intellectual Disability.” – Family/carer of an NDIS participant.
“I am appalled at the idea of independent assessments for a person with autism. The nature of the disability will make determining the client’s needs, in one three hour assessment by an unknown person/s very questionable.” – Family/carer of an NDIS participant.
Participants also questioned the nature of the assessment process in terms of the skill of the assessor and the time taken to undertake a thorough assessment. They suggested it can take some time to develop rapport and they may need more time than is allowed to represent their abilities and needs accurately.
“I would need lots and lots of time to get to know this person and for them to get to know me. What does disability mean to them? If two people have the same disability it doesn’t mean that the two people can do the same things as good as each other. They can’t work this out in a couple of hours with some assessment tool.” – NDIS participant.
Participants expressed their concern about whether or not the proposed assessment process considers their history and the natural fluctuation in functional ability.
“Sometimes I wake up and I feel sad or weak and can’t do things as well as other days. What if this person only sees me when I can do things good?” – NDIS participant.
“Some days/weeks I can do lots of things and other days I can’t do much at all – what if the IA comes on a good day [and] doesn’t believe me when I say other days I can’t do something.” – NDIS participant.
Limited ability to appeal assessments
There were widespread concerns about the limited ability to appeal assessment determinations. Independent Assessment results themselves will not be directly reviewable by the NDIA or Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
“I am not happy that I cannot ask for the Independent Assessment report to be reviewed if I think it’s wrong or unfair. I should be able to tell the NDIS the IA has made a mistake and get a second chance.” – NDIS participant.
“What happens if I don’t understand their questions or I interpret their question the wrong way and give the wrong answers? I need to be able to fix any mistakes.” – NDIS participant.
Lack of communication
The survey found low awareness and understanding of Independent Assessments and proposed changes to planning process. Most respondents did not understand what an Independent Assessment was and 43 per cent said that the survey was the first they had heard of the changes.
“I had no idea anything was changing, and I find this bizarre. How can you be in the process of making significant changes to a critical support system for people with disabilities and their families, yet not keep current users informed of the proposed changes?” – Family/carer of a NDIS participant.
Twenty-one per cent of respondents said they were concerned about the changes and wanted them reconsidered, while only 17 per cent said they had all the information they need and welcome the changes.
More feedback can be found in the full survey results.
You can also read and download the related papers prepared by Possability on our sector advocacy publications page.
Advocating for a better NDIS
Possability participates in a number of sector groups to advocate for reforms to the NDIS that will improve the experiences and outcomes for participants and their families. We are active members of National Disability Services and Alliance20, and regularly collaborate with other providers in the disability sector.
If you are interested in collaborating with us in our advocacy work, please email email@example.com.
Possability Engagement Team.