The change was one of a raft flagged by Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill Shorten during a presentation at the National Press Club earlier this month.
In noting that the NDIS had “lost its way”, Minister Shorten said the scheme has its place but significant work was needed to ensure it could survive into the future.
He announced a six-point plan to overhaul the NDIS which included commissioning an independent panel to make recommendations on how to ‘reboot’ the agency, due by October.
Among the changes the panel has been tasked to examine are growing the National Disability Insurance Agency workforce, returning some call centre functions to the agency and reducing workforce churn.
The plan also includes internal changes, including an increase in the number of staff working at the NDIS and a “boost in community support from state governments to free up NDIS budgets”.  

 Minister Shorten

Minister Shorten told press club members that NDIS participants often had to repeatedly prove their disability to different agency workers and that the agency should be able to offer multi-year plans that could be adapted over time.
He also said he wanted to address the spiralling cost of the scheme, including confronting providers accused of price-gouging scheme participants.
“[Just] because an NDIS package is taxpayer-funded, it is not fair game for the doubling and tripling of prices. It shouldn’t be treated as some sort of wedding tax.”
“And, remember, if one provider is overcharging for their service it means the participant can’t afford another service they might need,” Minister Shorten said.
The news has been welcomed by the advocacy group, People with Disability Australia (PWDA), which had been calling for changes for around a decade.
PWDA President Nicole Lee said Minister Shorten’s address was a welcome change for people with disability, who “for too long have had our lives limited, narrowed and capped by changes to the NDIS”.  
“Whatever changes are made to the NDIS, these must first and foremost come from a position of the principles of choice and control of people with disability, which was one of the main intentions of the NDIS from the beginning.”

 Federal versus State

At present, NDIS bilateral agreements exist between states and territories, and the federal government to determine who will pay for the ongoing support of people with disability.
Lee said what her organisation didn’t want to see is a return to the early days of the NDIS, where the federal, state and territory governments argued over who was responsible for paying for services and equipment. Ultimately this meant people with disability were left to languish without life-changing supports, she said.
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