The NDIA has made the decision to back out of their proposed independent assessments after strong negative feedback from the disability community, States and government.
From the very beginning, there has been controversy and negativity surrounding the proposal of independent assessments and the disability community is welcoming this news.
What are independent assessments?
Independent assessments were proposed to come in to the NDIS application process to determine the functional capacity of potential Participants, and there who should qualify for NDIS fundings. The NDIA had planned to select independent healthcare professionals from a variety of industries, such as:
- Occupational therapists
- Other specialists
The idea behind the independent assessors was that they would be exactly that; independent, and therefore non-biased. They would assess each person using the same process so that the system was fair and equitable.
Independent assessors were proposed to make the NDIS application process simpler and more equitable.
Why was there such a bad response?
There were concerns amongst the disability community that the changes were unfair and could cause upset for some potential NDIS participants. The structure around the new process and the desire to have every assessment follow the same course may have resulted in NDIS participants to be treated like numbers, rather than people.
Overwhelmingly, people with disability and disability advocates provided feedback against independent assessors, with the main arguments being that many people with disability, particularly those who have intellectual disability, would not be able to express themselves properly or paint a true picture of their life in front of someone who they did not know and had only just met.
Many people wishing to apply for the NDIS have built rapport with their regular medical professionals and feel comfortable and safe with them, therefore allowing them to express themselves honestly and realistically. Likewise, medical professionals themselves have often spent countless hours getting to know and understand the realities and implications of their patients’ disabilities and can therefore provide the most accurate assessment.
What will NDIS assessments look like now?
There hasn’t yet been a new model confirmed and assessments will take place as usual for now. This means that NDIS participants will continue to gather their supporting evidence themselves, from their chosen specialists.
The good news is that the NDIA have said that they will consult with people within the disability community and the new model will be recipient-focused.