Since its inception in 2013, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has helped hundreds of thousands of Australians in need of disability support services. While the system has largely been successful in increasing the scope of disability care in Australia, there are still many ways in which the NDIS is improving for everyday Australians. For any policy or institution, it is important to be constantly monitoring the effectiveness of the policy in achieving its goals. This is even more important since the system is now benefitting over 250 000 people throughout Australia. So, here are several areas where the scheme has been developing and improving in recent years.
A new psychosocial disability service stream
The last six months has seen some rapid changes to the occupational therapy NDIS. One of the big changes to the scheme has been the introduction of the new psychosocial service stream, which is specifically designed to help people with persistent mental health problems. It includes the employment of specialised planners in the hope of fostering better connections between support staff in the NDIA and those suffering from mental health conditions.
A better, more transparent plan
The NDIA has recently released a new-format plan to assist with the execution of the NDIS. This reworked plan will provide participants with a format that is far easier to understand, ensuring that individuals receive the specific support they need when they need it. The new plan focuses more individual circumstances (more personalised and specific), a simpler layout and clearer definitions, along with the clear information on how and where to get help.
Improved support and faster access for those with hearing impairments
Since 2018, Australians with hearing impairments have been receiving faster and more comprehensive support in line with the NDIS. This can be attributed to the introduction of five key initiatives, which focus on cheaper prices, strengthening relationships with providers and more tailored offerings for children under the age of 6.
Improved website functionality
In addition, the NDIS website has gone through some rather significant changes in recent months. In January 2019, the new-look website was officially launched, because of community feedback regarding previous concerns about functionality and experience. People complained that the previous website wasn’t user-friendly and very hard to navigate. The new website features a clearer layout of information, improved search functionality, more mobile-friendliness and better visual appearance (contrast, font) to ensure that everyone has a positive experience.
Improvements to the provision of NDIS assistive technology
Since April 2019, the NDIA have been implementing a new approach to improve the quality and efficiency of assessing participants who may require assistive technology (complex and non-standard forms included). Many of these changes have been predicated on users citing a need to have modifications to their homes and cars occur at a faster rate. Some people have had to wait several months to have the technology installed. When the scheme is rolled out in its entirety, it is believed that the total cost spent on assistive technology each year will be around $1 billion.
Changes to prices
Finally, under a new $22 billion scheme, the pricing structure will change from a two-tiered system to a three-tiered system. The changes have occurred in recognition that many people require more complex systems of assistance, which must be administered by individuals with higher skill requirements and qualifications. The additional third tier will incur a loading fee of 10.3%. The changes occur in the hope that the NDIS can be revised to be a more effective and competitive industry, which aligns well with the Morrison Government’s political aims. Naturally, the NDIA has announced that the Equal Remuneration Order will assess the impact of these price changes workers and users.