The new NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds has announced her intention to pause the roll out of Independent Assessments (IAs).
Reynolds says that IAs will not be rolled out until second pilot is finished and evaluated, and she has had an opportunity to consult with stakeholders across the country.
This news should be treated with very, very cautious optimism.
The NDIA website says the results of the second pilot will be available ‘later this year’, so really who knows when. The first IA pilot was a prime example of how results can be manipulated to promote a certain outcome. It was originally reported that 91% of people found their experience satisfactory or very satisfactory. However, pilot results were not connected to funding decisions, so people were only reporting on their experiences with the assessment itself. It is possible these people would feel differently if they saw the plan these assessments would produce. We also later learned that only 145 people completed the evaluation survey and only 35 of those people were NDIS participants.
The disability sector has also grown wary of the concept of ‘consultation.’ The tender winners for IAs were announced only 3 days after the last consultation period had ended.
Speaking of the tender winners, it is not clear what this delay will mean for their contracts. But we can probably assume they ain’t too thrilled about today’s announcement.
Speaking to the Australian newspaper, Reynolds also noted that costs of the NDIS have increased “well beyond what we initially anticipated.” She stressed the importance of keeping the NDIS affordable.
But Reynolds does have a real opportunity here to do things differently to how they have been done in the past.
The pause also means that new legislation is unlikely to come before parliament by mid-year. Therefore, other changes the disability sector was concerned about, including the decreased importance of reasonable and necessary, are also on halt.
Reynolds spoke to the Australian newspaper ahead of her meeting Disability Reform Council today.