National Disability Insurance Agency Capability Review Released

Monday 24 March 2014 @ 10.10 a.m. | Legal Research

Despite the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a new independent review released by the Assistant Minister for Social Services is less than positive in regards to the capability of the National Disability Insurance Agency, who is administering the scheme.

Background to Reporting on the NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is under reporting guidelines from the Federal Government to provide annual and quarterly reports, as well as tasked with reviewing:

  1. the implementation of the NDIS;
  2. the administration and expenditure of the NDIS; and
  3. any matter in relation to the NDIS referred to the committee by a resolution of either House of the Parliament;

In effect, the current Committee (composed of 6 Senators and 6 Members) is focused on the implementation and administration, as well as expenditure of the NDIS and to provide a forum where design and implementation issues can be explored in a bipartisan manner.

Independent Report on NDIA

In addition to the reporting requirements of the Joint Standing Committee, the Assistant Minister for Social Services commissioned an independent review of the capability of the NDIS Agency (NDIA), which is charged with delivering NDIS.

Key findings of the review include:

  • The ICT system put in place was the best available at very short notice but is not fit for purpose
  • the Board was not established until 1 July 2013. The Board is composed of nominees from State and Territory jurisdictions and while the members are high quality individuals, the selection process is not optimal for achieving the best mix of skill
  • the Board did not select the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the CEO did not select his temporary Senior Executive staff
  • most staff in the Agency’s National Office are temporary, pending permanent recruitment to positions in Geelong
  • the data available from States is poorer than it would have been had there been time to cleanse it before commencement. As a result a lot of time has been spent trying to get clarity over which people are current customers of State services
  • the capability of the Agency is weaker than it otherwise would have been and the systems and processes to help ensure consistency of approach are less developed, and
  • lack of clear guidance for staff on the way the Scheme operates, including eligibility and reasonable and necessary support.

In the words of the Minister:

"The findings of the capability review are both inspiring and sobering... Inspiring, because several thousand Australians with disability are now getting the better deal they deserve. And inspiring because the hard working staff of the NDIS Agency have put in a herculean effort and achieved launch in the trial sites against the odds... And sobering because the theme that runs through the report is that the decision by the previous government to bring forward by a year the commencement date of the trial sites has compromised key capabilities required to support and deliver full scheme roll out."

 The scheme's cornerstone assessment metric — “reasonable and necessary support” — has also come under fire as being too vague.

“As key parameters of the scheme, the boundaries of ‘reasonable and necessary’ require clear articulation for participants and the community to ensure that expectations are aligned...This may take some time to get right, and the agency needs the capability to manage this sensitive calibration with the support of its stakeholders.”

In response to the capability review, the Agency has developed an action plan and will provide further advice as to whether the current implementation timetable is consistent with a successful full scheme rollout.

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products.

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