Peak cross-disability body People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has joined more than twenty other disability organisations in the call to immediately cease a plan to introduce independent assessments and other changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The disability sector statement, released today, lists a raft of changes that government plans to implement over the coming months. They include a proposal that all NDIS participants will have to undergo a mandatory assessment in order to access their plans and funding, a move which advocates say will unfairly disadvantage many people with disability.
PWDA President, Samantha Connor, said that the plan was unfair, untested and unlikely to succeed.
“This proposal has the potential to cause serious adverse outcomes for disabled people,” she said.
“Not only are they planning to use untested assessment tools and strangers to assess extremely complex people in a very short period of time, they’re also planning to fundamentally alter the way that the NDIS was intended to work.
“The NDIS was always intended to consider our lives and needs rather than just our impairments – the changes they want to bring in are designed to reduce supports and remove funding from a group of people who are already living in crisis.”
There has been a widespread outcry from disabled people and their families who say that they hold serious concerns about the plan.
A survey carried out by PWDA in October 2020 revealed that the majority of our members thought that independent assessments were a bad or very bad idea, with members citing complex needs, lack of choice around specialists.
“I have multiple disabilities and chronic health conditions,” said one member in a survey response.
“It has taken a long time to curate a medical team who understand me and who work with me in the way I need…my conditions fluctuate and this cannot be judged appropriately with one observation session.
“I am fearful of strangers making decisions about my livelihood without understanding my history and personal challenges.”
Ms Connor agreed, saying “For women and others with trauma-based conditions, this will be a nightmare – but for all of us, it’s undignified and retraumatising when we have to constantly ‘prove’ that we are disabled and need support.
“Imagine having to have an independent government-appointed assessor coming in to assess whether you really have pneumonia or a broken leg before you can access a hospital or the Medicare system. That’s what’s being proposed. That’s why the disability sector is rejecting this idea.”