Can you believe it is the end of the year already?! It’s been a big year and much has happened. Here, we reflect on some of the changes that have unfolded in 2022, and share our hopes for the year ahead.
The year that was…
Changes to the NDIS Act
Changes to the NDIS Act passed in parliament at the end of sitting in March. The participant service guarantee (PSG) was an important part of the changes. The PSG includes the NDIS time frames for processes and decisions. The PSG came into effect 1 July 2022. With changes to the Act we also saw some new NDIS language:
- Plan reassessment - previously known as plan review
- Plan variation – what we previously called a ‘light touch review'
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) delays
In early 2022, we saw a 400% increase in participants appealing decisions made by NDIA. There was anecdotal evidence of plan funding cuts despite a person’s support needs remaining the same. The result was more people needing to take their case to the AAT. Advocacy services were strained and there was a general sense that trust was being eroded with the NDIA.
The new government has recently introduced an alternate dispute resolution process which includes a voluntary process for a non-binding and confidential review by an independent expert. The expectation is that this will assist participants to resolve their matter prior to an AAT hearing. A pilot phase of this Independent Expert Review (IER) program commenced on 4 October 2022.
On 15 December, the government announced plans to replace the AAT with a new administrative body by the end of 2023.
Change in government
The incoming government highlighted the need to rebuild trust with NDIS participants and has since launched an independent review into the NDIS to improve the wellbeing of Australians with disability and ensure the scheme’s sustainability, so that future generations receive the benefit of the NDIS.
There is a new chair of the NDIS board and a new CEO. Rebeca Falkingham replaced Martin Hoffman as NDIA CEO. Kurt Fearnley became the first disabled person to chair the NDIS Board. The Summer Foundation’s Dr George Taleporos recently interviewed Kurt and Rebecca. Find out more about Kurt here and Rebecca here.
Down to 10 days
Importantly, the Down to 10 Days campaign put the focus on delays in NDIS decision-making when people are in hospital but medically fit to go home. #downto10days highlighted that 1,100 Australians with disability are stuck in hospital, ready for discharge but unable to move because they are waiting for the NDIS to process their paperwork and approve funding for their supports.
Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten has implemented an operational plan to streamline the discharge processes and faster decision-making from more NDIA staff.
Early reports are that decisions are being made faster and fewer NDIS participants are stuck in hospital. Participants are receiving interim plans to leave hospital and medium-term accommodation where necessary.
If you are supporting an NDIS participant who is stuck in hospital, please get in touch with our Hospital to Home team who are currently accepting referrals.
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Looking to 2023
Home and living policy
This year, the NDIA engaged in extensive co-design with NDIS participants, their families and providers to develop new policies on home and living and support for decision-making. We look forward to seeing the outcome of this work early 2023.
We hope that the Home and Living Policy will support NDIS participants to explore and design their living arrangements with the full range of options available to all citizens.
A suggestion from Summer Foundation’s Annual Public Forum is a process where the NDIA identifies participants who will likely be eligible for SDA, then provides support to achieve SDA if this is their choice. Another suggestion is more specialist support coordination where expertise is required.
Young people in in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC)
Each month, more than 40 young people per month entered aged care. More must be done to support younger people at risk of entering aged care, and younger people in aged care wanting to leave, to access appropriate housing and supports.
We are hopeful that 2023 will see more opportunities and greater commitment to younger people living in or at risk of entering residential aged care.
The Summer Foundation has launched the Residential Aged Care (RAC) engagement project. The RAC engagement project offers collaboration and support to RAC providers so that young people can transition into more suitable housing in their community. You can find out more about the RAC engagement project here.
The Summer Foundation and Housing Hub are also delivering Residential Aged Care Services Coordination - a free service for young people living in residential aged care. To find out more click here.
UpSkill will continue to offer training and resources to support coordinators, allied health professionals and other sector professionals assisting people with complex support needs. Check out our upcoming courses below: