The federal government has introduced legislation to improve the experiences of participants of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, including their families and carers.

The NDIS Amendment (Participant Service Guarantee and Other Matters) Bill 2021, introduced into parliament last week, is the product of extensive consultation.

Linda Reynolds

The 2019 review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013, or NDIS Act, by former senior public servant David Tune made recommendations to improve the participant experience of NDIS.

Fourteen of the recommendations from the Tune review will be implemented through amendments presented in this bill.

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Linda Reynolds said these changes were much needed.

“After eight years of lived experience of the NDIS it is evident changes are needed to further safeguard participants, cut red tape and give greater control and choice to participants,” she said in a statement.

Key reforms in the bill include the Participant Service Guarantee, which will set timeframes for decision making by the National Disability Insurance Agency and set strict service standards.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman will report on the NDIA’s performance against the Guarantee.

“The amendments in this bill provide for a significant reduction in administrative red tape and strengthen the person-centred focus of the NDIS.”

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Linda Reynolds

People with disability as co-designers

The bill ensures that people with disability will be included in the co-design of the scheme, with revised criteria for appointing members to the NDIA Board stating that at least one person with disability or lived experience of disability is on the board.

There will be increased flexibility for participants and the NDIA, including flexibility in how payments can be made.

This will allow the NDIA to pay providers directly on behalf of participants, so participants won’t need to use their own money for services and claim reimbursement.

Alan Tudge, Minister for Education and Youth, said in parliament that the focus of the bill is making the NDIS experience better and more streamlined for participants.

The NDIA will now be able to make quick changes to plans without needing to go through a full plan review.

“This will make it easier and faster for participants to get their NDIS supports,” Mr Tudge said in parliament.  

“It will also be particularly helpful when a quote is needed for a support and will mean adding the quoted amount to the plan will not result in a full plan review.”

Ms Reynolds said this bill would make a big difference.  

“Together, the amendments in this bill provide for a significant reduction in administrative red tape and strengthen the person-centred focus of the NDIS, which is what the insurance scheme is about,” she said.

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