NDIS review urges dozens of changes as Bill Shorten under pressure over surging costs | National disability insurance scheme #NDIS #review #urges #dozens #Bill #Shorten #pressure #surging #costs #National #disability #insurance #scheme

A landmark review of the NDIS has found the critical lifeboat supporting more than 600,000 Australians with disabilities needs to be fixed to ensure its sustainability for decades to come.

The federal government has been under pressure to develop a plan to rein in the multibillion-dollar scheme’s exponential costs after national cabinet earlier this year agreed to cap its growth rate at 8% from 2026.

The review found, at its core, the scheme should be one part of a greater system, urging governments over the next five years to build up mainstream disability services, or foundational supports, outside the NDIS for those in need of services who cannot access the scheme.

“Our view is that you can’t fix the NDIS without fixing everything around it,” the review found.

“We want to create a new system of support, including accessible and inclusive mainstream services, a new system of foundational supports as well as the NDIS.”

The much-anticipated report, released Thursday morning, recommended 26 changes alongside 139 detailed actions to fix the NDIS and to fix how Australians with disabilities access support more broadly.

Among the changes proposed is a rethink of how the disability support system looks, including a five-year transition for some people from the NDIS scheme to foundational supports.

The NDIS minister, Bill Shorten, has told those in the disability community that the changes won’t happen overnight and any reforms adopted by the Albanese government, expected next year, will be developed in conjunction with them.

The report’s authors, Prof Bruce Bonyhady, one of the scheme’s key architects, and former bureaucrat, Lisa Paul, propose a three-layered system with the targeted individual support for those most in need of support delivered through the NDIS.

The middle layer would be foundational supports provided outside the scheme and would cover Australians with disabilities needing less intensive support, such as cooking and financial assistance.

Early intervention and support systems for children with developmental would also be targeted through this layer.

The third layer is mainstream services and community supports delivered through existing services, such as schools.

Bonyhady, one of the scheme’s key architects, and Paul, said the NDIS needed to return to its core principle – centreing “first and foremost on functional impairment rather than medical diagnosis”.

“There is too much focus on diagnosis and not enough on support needs. There is no consistent approach to identifying developmental concerns early, or helping families find evidence-based supports that work for them,” the report said.

Those already on the scheme, who will no longer be considered part of the proposed system’s top layer, would be gradually phased out of the NDIS and directed toward foundational supports.

“We recognise that change for participants can be very difficult. We have recommended a guide to transition to ensure participants are given time to understand and have a say in changes before they are affected by them,” the report said.

“Changes to access and budget setting processes for children and young people should only be implemented once widespread foundational supports are in place.”

Elsewhere, the report recommended a new role of navigator be introduced in a gradual phase out of existing case managers.

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There would be two types of navigators – general navigators providing information on the available support services and specialists who help participants with complex needs.

Shorten welcomed the review’s public release on Thursday, saying it was the “most comprehensive and accessible” review of the scheme in history.

“This is a significant moment in Australian history, particularly for people with disability and their families, and the disability sector. Our nation will reap the rewards of the review’s work,” Shorten said at its release.

“The Albanese government has made a commitment to humanise the scheme and ensure every dollar goes to the participants for who it was intended.”

The report’s release follows an agreement between the commonwealth and the states and territories on Wednesday to jointly fund extra disability and mainstream support services on a 50-50 basis.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said the NDIS’s growth trajectory was “unsustainable” without changes to the existing arrangements.

“The NDIS was designed to support people with permanent and significant disability. They need that care desperately,” Albanese said.

“But there are a range of other people who still, not everyone with this ability or issue that requires support is in the NDIS now.

“That foundational support is already there. What we’re saying is there might be, in the future, additional foundational support [required], and we want to work with the states and territories to make sure that we share that part going forward.”

The NDIS’s growth is expected to exceed $50bn in next year’s federal budget with projections showing it could push past $90bn a year within a decade.

#NDIS #review #urges #dozens #Bill #Shorten #pressure #surging #costs #National #disability #insurance #scheme

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