Saturday, 13 June 2015

NDIS: winners and losers

2 recent articles I have read, discuss the issues for people who may not be accessing services under the new paradigm of the NDIS.

There are lots of positives under the new scheme, however as Jenny Green and Associate Professor Jane Mears in their article, The Implementation of the NDIS: Who Wins, Who Loses? (reference 1) state "On balance the individual funding was more likely to be used by people of working age with low support needs (from Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs 2010, p.13)."

Think about the implications of this type of data on the people you support.
How many of the people you support, fit the category of both working age and low support needs?

People with Complex Communication Needs are most often seen as having high support needs, and many also have difficulty advocating for themselves.  How many people with Complex Communication Needs are accessing the NDIS? How many are getting a meaningful plan for their ongoing support and future needs? How many are getting reasonable access to therapy assessments and support and training for support staff? What do you think needs to be put in place to ensure this significant group of people are accessing the services they need?

As stated by Soldatic et al in their article Intellectual Disability and Complex Intersections: Marginalisation, (reference 2) the NDIS is an opt-in model of service. In their article they draw attention to the work of Leipoldt’s and Hallahan who have suggested "that relying on the market to deliver individual choice is a problematic framing for the full realisation of disability rights. This is partly because a market-based system requires sociocultural literacy in “choice and self-interest” The authors go on to indicate  "Numerous disability groups have also suggested that there are a group of people at the margins who experience multiple and complex forms of disadvantage and, therefore, do not necessarily have this literacy.” (Sociocultural Literacy).
They also go on to suggest, “For these groups, accessing the NDIS may be a major challenge. If the onus is on the individual to prove his or her eligibility on a case-by-case basis, people with disabilities with complex social needs are unlikely to have the sociocultural literacy to interpret and activate administrative rules for their own individual benefit.”

These are important issues to discuss, as much of the discussion in the media about the NDIS is of the huge benefits for people with a disability. Often those that appear to be missing out, are those with little experience of advocacy.  Are people with multiple and complex needs, including social and mental health needs, or poor socio-economic backgrounds and/or poor education going to be able to meaningfully access the NDIS?

We will hear the NDIS is meeting benchmarks, but who is this for? Who is really accessing the NDIS, and who is missing out? What services and professional supports are people being able to access? 

Interestingly the latest quarterly report from the NDIS, has a breakdown of costs/client for support plans. In that  report the NDIS provide a 2 part analysis and so in one analysis, removes the costs of the group of people who have accessed the NDIS from institutional type environments, as being an aberration of costs, due to their high support needs. It would appear people with high support needs will not be a large proportion of the NDIS model. Is that really the case, or is it the case that people with high support needs have a range of other issues making it more difficult for them to know how to access the NDIS.

Cathy Basterfield
Consultant Speech Pathologist
Access Easy English
0466 579 855

1.    Jenny Green & Associate Professor Jane Mears, The Implementation of the NDIS: Who Wins, Who Loses?  Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Journal 2014, 6(2): 3915,-

2.    Karen Soldatic, Georgia van Toorn, Leanne Dowse & Kristy Muir (2014) Intellectual Disability and Complex Intersections: Marginalisation under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 1:1, 6-16,
            DOI: 10.1080/23297018.2014.906050

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