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NDIS consultations – Independent assessments, flexible budgets and approach to early childhood supports

NDIS consultations – Independent assessments, flexible budgets and approach to early childhood supports

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is currently undertaking several consultations on the way NDIS participants aged 7 years and over are assessed and how NDIS plans are budgeted for and used by participants. These changes include:

* The introduction of independent assessments to better understand an individual’s functional capacity and environment, to support objective and fair access and funding decisions. All people seeking to become an NDIS participant (and eventually existing NDIS participants) will be asked to undertake an independent assessment – an assessment of a person’s functional capacity including their environmental and individual circumstances. These will be undertaken by qualified health care professionals (e.g. occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists and other health and allied health professionals) appointed from an independent external panel. Independent assessments will be free for participants and are intended to avoid potential participants having to spend a lot of money getting reports from health practitioners in order to access the NDIS. More information and a consultation paper can be found here.

* Greater flexibility in how a participant chooses to use their NDIS funding in order to be able to exercise increase choice and control over their plan and funding. Once a person is found eligible for the NDIS, information from their independent assessment will be used to develop a personalised budget. Participants will receive a draft plan (including a draft budget), before their planning meeting. The planning meeting will remain to talk more specifically about the person, finalise the personalised budget, and focus on supporting participants to use their NDIS plan to pursue their goals. A personalised budget will be included in a participant’s NDIS plan and is intended to be far more flexible with funds for all NDIS supports not specifically identified for a particular use able to be flexibly used to pay for any kind of disability support. Where required, a fixed budget will include funds for supports that have been specifically identified for a particular use (e.g. high cost or complex assistive technology) so it can’t be used for any other purpose. More information and a consultation paper can be found here

These changes will come into effect in the middle of 2021 for all NDIS participants over 7 years of age.

Separately, the NDIA is also considering its policy approach to children under 7 years of age, including raising the age of children able to access NDIS early childhood supports to under 9 years old, how independent assessments will be used to determine eligibility and budgets for participants over 12 months of age, and options for short term early interventions whether or not a child is eligible for the NDIS. More information about this and a consultation paper can be found here.

Audiology Australia will be making a submission in response to these proposed changes. If you would like to offer any feedback or have any questions, please contact Elissa Campbell Advocacy and Policy Manager at elissa.campbell@audiology.asn.au.

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