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HomeAustraliaPossible rewritten title: "Bill Shorten unveils NDIS 'reboot' in response to concerns...

Possible rewritten title: “Bill Shorten unveils NDIS ‘reboot’ in response to concerns over its direction”


If you are one of the one in five Australians living with a disability, a family member, or you care for a person with a disability, I want to say something to you now.

National Disability Insurance is here to stay.

It’s not going away.

But – and this is important – we need to get the NDIS back on track.

And that won’t be easy.

It will take time and require the kind of collective effort you showed throughout the campaign to fight for the NDIS in the first place.

But – and this is also important – I will work with and for you every step of the way.

With that in mind, I want to inform you and the nation about the work that needs to be done to secure the future of the NDIS.

I want to explain why we created the NDIS.

And explain how the NDIS lost its way.

And I want to explain why we need to restart the scheme and services and support for disabled people.

You could call this a “state of the union” address on the NDIS.

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How the NDIS lost its way

One of the measures of a great reform is that it survives its reign.

Medibank, for example, did not survive the Whitlam government, although it was resurrected as Medicare by Bob Hawke.

The NDIS survived the Rudd-Gillard-Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison administrations.

A testament to the power of reform – and the power of community support.

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The fact that it managed to survive is a credit to the dedication of people with disabilities and their families and advocates and allies and the never-to-be-underestimated decency of the Australian people.

But the hard truth is this: the NDIS is not what it should be.

It is not delivering the results that Australians with disabilities need and that the Australian public expects.

And therefore, in order for the NDIS to reach its potential, we essentially need to reboot.

Let me explain what I mean.

Restart disability services and support

The Albanian government was elected last May.

Since then we have worked hard to get the NDIS back on track.

Last October, I appointed an expert panel to conduct an independent review of the NDIS.

That panel – co-chaired by Bruce Bonyhady and Lisa Paul – is deliberating widely and will report to me in October on:

The design, operation and sustainability of the Scheme;

And what needs to be done to build a more responsive, supportive and sustainable market and workforce.

But that doesn’t mean we’re sitting on our hands until the final report.

For example, we set up a Fraud Fusion Taskforce last October.

Currently, the Task Force has 38 pending investigations involving more than $300 million in payments.

It has discovered and investigated criminal syndicates that have taken advantage of the coalition’s shoddy government.

Last month alone, the Taskforce received more than 1,700 tips about people trying to rip off the NDIS.

Obviously I can’t go into details about ongoing investigations, but I can say this.

It’s sickening that criminal syndicates steal from people with disabilities.

I am committed that every dollar of NDIS funding goes to people with disabilities.

And that’s why we want to follow up on every tip and prosecute every criminal.

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Another area we couldn’t wait until October was the storage of NDIS participants in hospitals.

In 2021, a Victorian Government analysis found that it took an average of 160 days to discharge NDIS participants after they were medically ready.

Imagine if that were you: You’re ready to go home, but still have to spend 160 days in the hospital.

Not only was that a huge waste of hospital resources, it showed that under the Coalition we had a return to the Dickensian reality that the NDIS was designed to end.

That is not just unacceptable. It is an insidious violation of human rights.

That is why the Albanian government has deployed people and aid to reduce the delays in hospital discharge.

We’ve already reduced the delay in discharge from 160 days to 29 days – and saved the hospital system about $550 million a year.

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Systemic reform

Let me quickly describe the basic system error identified by NDIS participants:

The system is too rigid.

It raises Kafkaesque barriers to entry, lacks empathy, puts pressure on prices, is too complex and often traumatizing to deal with.

Consequently, people with disabilities often feel trapped between certain predatory providers on the one hand and an impersonal government agency on the other.

That has to change.

We need to improve the participant experience, we need to make people’s lives easier instead of harder – because in doing so we will reduce waste, inefficiency and inflationary costs.

In other words, we must ensure that every dollar in the Scheme goes to the people for whom the Scheme was originally created.

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I’ve already talked about the Fraud Fusion Taskforce.

The elimination of unethical practices in the Scheme goes beyond tackling criminal syndicates.

It is also about – through a renewed focus on evidence and data – getting rid of shoddy therapies that have little or no value to participants or desperate parents.

Unethical practices include:

• pressuring participants to ask for services or support rates that they do not need;

• spending participants’ money against their plan;

• requesting or accepting additional fees for a service; And

• offer rewards for purchasing certain services that are not included in a participant’s subscription;

There are many great service providers out there, from established nonprofits to new small family businesses.

But untrustworthy providers tarnish the reputation of quality service providers who work hard to support participants and meet their registration and compliance obligations.

Participants who have been hounded by these unscrupulous types have reported feeling “dehumanized,” exploited like “cash cows.”

We need more NDIA staff with the skills to ensure providers deliver results and don’t overcharge.

The bottom line is I want to maximize the benefit of every NDIS dollar we spend.

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