The Final Report is here!

The NDIS Independent Review commissioned by the Federal Government commenced in October 2022.

The Final Report of the Independent Review Panel (co-chaired by Professor Bruce Bonyhady AM and Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM) was published on 7 December 2023. It is available here, together with an Easy Read version and other guidance material.

The Report – which is 329 pages long – sets out the Panel’s 26 recommendations grouped into four “key review areas”. As I think these are a good place to start in understanding the detail of the report, I have extracted them below.

Area 1 – Develop a unified system of support for people with disability

Recommendation 1 – Invest in foundational supports to bring fairness, balance and sustainability to the ecosystem supporting people with disability.

Recommendation 2 – Increase the scale and pace of change in mainstream and community inclusion and accessibility and improve the connection between mainstream services and the NDIS.

Recommendation 3 – Provide a fairer and more consistent participant pathway.

Recommendation 4 – Support all people with disability to navigate mainstream, foundational and NDIS service systems.

Recommendation 5 – Provide better support for people with disability to make decisions about their lives.

Recommendation 6 – Create a continuum of support for children under the age of 9 and their families.

Recommendation 7 – Introduce a new approach to NDIS supports for psychosocial disability, focused on personal recovery, and develop mental health reforms to better support people with severe mental illness.

Recommendation 8 – Fund housing and living supports that are fair and consistent, and support participants to exercise genuine choice and control over their living arrangement.

Recommendation 9 – Deliver a diverse and innovative range of inclusive housing and living supports.

Area 2 – Markets and support systems that empower people with disability

Recommendation 10 – Invest in digital infrastructure for the NDIS to enable accessible, timely and reliable information and streamlined processes that strengthen NDIS market functioning and scheme integrity.

Recommendation 11 – Reform pricing and payments frameworks to improve incentives for providers to deliver quality supports to participants.

Recommendation 12 – Embed, promote and incentivise continuous quality improvement in the market, supported by a dedicated quality function in the new National Disability Supports Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Recommendation 13 – Strengthen market monitoring and responses to challenges in coordinating the NDIS market.

Recommendation 14 – Improve access to supports for First Nations participants across Australia and for all participants in remote communities through alternative commissioning arrangements.

Recommendation 15 – Attract, retain and train a workforce that is responsive to participant needs and delivers quality supports.

Recommendation 16 – Deliver safeguarding that is empowering and tailored to individuals, their service needs and environments.

Recommendation 17 – Develop and deliver a risk-proportionate model for the visibility and regulation of all providers and workers, and strengthen the regulatory response to long-standing and emerging quality and safeguards issues.

Recommendation 18 – Reinvigorate efforts to urgently drive reduction and elimination in the use of restrictive practices.

Area 3 – Stewardship of the united ecosystem

Recommendation 19 – Embed effective quality and safeguarding institutions and architecture across the disability support ecosystem.

Recommendation 20 – Create a new compact between Australian governments.

Recommendation 21 – Clarify accountability for sustainability and governance of the disability ecosystem.

Recommendation 22 – Embed a highly skilled, person-centred, disability aware culture across all disability agencies and governments.

Recommendation 23 – Measure what matters, build an evidence base of what works, and create a learning system.

Area 4 – A five-year transition

Recommendation 24 – Establish appropriate architecture to implement reforms.

Recommendation 25 – Coordinate and consult on amendments to relevant legislation to enact proposed reforms.

Recommendation 26 – Develop an implementation roadmap that factors in critical dependencies and risks and ensures a smooth transition for existing participants.

How will the recommendations be implemented?

For each recommendation, the Panel has proposed specific actions that Governments and the sector may take to achieve it. Overall, there are 139 proposed actions, or practical measures, to implement the full set of recommended reforms. 

Where to from here?

As announced by the Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, on 7 December 2023, National Cabinet also recommitted (on 6 December 2023) to ensuring the future of the NDIS and improving the current system. The Government will now take its time to consider the findings of the NDIS Independent Review. It will release its full response to the Final Report sometime in 2024. 

Rest assured, for now and in the short-term future, NOTHING IS CHANGING! The NDIS will continue AS IS for participants and their families. As the last three recommendations in the Final Report indicate, the reforms are likely to be implemented over a 5-year period.

Watch this space for further information and updates on the NDIS Review!