The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has highlighted concerns around the mandatory National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) assessments saying the inability of participants to challenge the results of these assessments undermines the legislative intent of the scheme.
"A key principle of the NDIS Act is that people with disability can exercise control and choice in regard to the support they need," says National President of the ALA, Mr Droppert SC.
"The proposed changes, which will make so-called independent assessments mandatory and will not allow assessments to be appealed, completely undermine this principle.
"There is a real risk that the new assessment process will result in people with disability being unable to access the support they need, and there are very limited options available for individuals to appeal these assessment decisions."
The ALA, a national association of lawyers, academics and other professionals dedicated to protecting and promoting justice, freedom and the rights of the individual, has outlined its concerns about the proposed plan in a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS.
"Under the new scheme, the results of the assessment cannot be challenged or appealed," adds Mr Droppert SC.
"Individuals will not be given a copy of the full assessment report unless they apply to see it. This will mean that there will be very few circumstances where the plan and budget can be changed after the assessment is complete.
"This contradicts the Tune Review, which unambiguously asserted the importance of participants having the right to challenge the results of the functional capacity assessment, including the ability to undertake a second assessment or seek some form of arbitration if they are not satisfied with the assessment," Mr Droppert SC continues.
"The plan to move to unreviewable independent assessments is deeply concerning. It will cause irreparable damage to the individualised and personalised nature of the NDIS and result in an automated process that will not adequately consider individual needs and circumstances.
"It is critical that any changes to the NDIS scheme include protections for participants, including a right to challenge assessment results."
Labor's Bill Shorten, Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme says the Morrison Government rewrote the Tune review of the NDIS, to ensure it was able to cut services for people with a disability and force them into compulsory assessments.
According to Mr Shorten, new documents secured via freedom of information show the Morrison Government inserted an entire chapter into the 2019 Independent Review of the NDIS Act, as well as making substantial changes to almost every part of the document.
He says, "This sham 'independent' report was designed and authored by the Government with one purpose alone, to steamroll through cuts to NDIS services and ignore the voices of the 430,000 people living with a disability who use the system."
Labor is calling on the new Minister for the NDIS and Government Services Linda Reynolds to stop the compulsory assessments and make the NDIS work for people living with a disability.