Changes to the laws that govern the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) came into effect on 1 July, 2022.
- On 1 July some changes to the laws surrounding the NDIS were made
- The changes mainly impact the language used by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) and some specific processes
- You may see differences in the amount of co-design used in the Scheme, access to supports for people without a current NDIS plan, and more transparency and less confusion in planning processes
These changes are part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Participant Service Guarantee and Other Measures) Act 2022, which was passed by the Australian Parliament in March, 2022.
The intention of the changes to the NDIS Act is to make the Scheme more simple and to remove some barriers that participants have experienced because of the rules governing the NDIS.
The Act has had updates to the language used to better reflect the way that people with disability want to be referred to.
For example, the law now refers to ‘people with psychosocial disabilities’ instead of ‘people who have psychiatric conditions’, and the term ‘psychosocial functioning’ has been removed.
Another important part of the changes in language, which could affect the experience of people with psychosocial disability and other conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), is to clarify that an ‘episodic and fluctuating’ condition can also be permanent.
This change may make it easier for people with conditions that change day to day to still get NDIS funding.
For all decisions the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) makes that are reviewable, the Agency will now give a reason for a decision to make all outcomes clearer for participants.
Other changes to the rules that have been made to improve access to supports includes:
- Recognising the importance of co-design and the relationship between people with disability, families and carers
- Acknowledging the diversity of bodies, genders and relationships so that people with disability can express themselves without experiencing discrimination
- More opportunity for the NDIA to invest in developing mainstream services and community programs to assist all people with disability
- Early intervention supports can be funded for children under seven before they receive a plan, so that their supports start as soon as possible
- Participants who want to appoint a plan manager will have their chosen provider risk-assessed in the same way that participants who self manage are risk-assessed
- For any appointments to the NDIA board, a person with disability must be considered
The controversial decision to provide the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NDIA with the power to vary a participant’s plan has also been a part of the new changes.
This power, however, is only to be used if a person with disability required immediate and urgent changes to their plan to meet their support needs.
Changes to specific processes
People who were consulted during the process of forming these changes told the NDIA that plan reviews were confusing, so part of the changes will be using different language for different parts of a review.
The changes of terms include:
- The ‘review date’ or ‘end date’ of a plan will now be called a ‘reassessment date’
- A ‘plan review’, ‘scheduled or unscheduled review’, ‘change of circumstances review’ or ‘S48 review’ will now be called a ‘plan reassessment’ (either participant or agency initiated)
- A ‘light touch plan review’, ‘plan extension’, ‘new plan with similar supports’ or ‘new plan with minor changes’ will now be called a ‘plan variation’
- An ‘S100 review’ or ‘review of reviewable decision’ will now be called an ‘internal review of decision’
Any new plans or variations you receive while either the NDIA or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is reviewing a decision will now be included in the review. Previously, if a participant still wanted a review they needed to apply for a separate review of the new plan.
Automatic plan extensions and rollovers, which were introduced to ensure support continued to be provided to participants during the COVID-19 pandemic, will still be used as participants’ feedback showed they were helpful.
The amount of time you have to produce information and reports that the NDIA asks for is also being extended from 28 days to 90 days to give people applying to become an NDIS participant more time.
The other changes around timeframes are explained in our article ‘What is the Participant Service Guarantee?‘