A draft proposal of legislation changes to the National Disability
Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was leaked to the media on Friday, which
includes suggestions of removing people with fetal alcohol spectrum
disorder (FASD) and acquired brain injuries from the scheme.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age managed to obtain the leaked 323 page document detailing different ways to cut costs.
Peak bodies and people with disability are in uproar over the “radical plan” and have outlined how this news has caused widespread tension and anger among people with disability, their families and supporters.
President of disability peak body People with Disability Australia (PWDA), Samantha Connor, says the reports around the confidential 300 page draft were “deeply concerning”.
“At Senate estimates this week, representatives from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) said that they had consulted extensively with the disability sector over the past few months,” explains Ms Connor.
“To discover that there are significant changes proposed that will disadvantage people with disability, along with a proposal to cut out co-design with participants and disabled persons organisations, is deeply concerning.”
The Federal Government is already in hot water over the proposal to introduce independent assessments, which disability advocates and peak bodies say will fundamentally change the individualised and personalised nature of the NDIS.
Ms Connor says PWDA will be scrutinising the report carefully and are also demanding the independent assessments are halted immediately.
Some of the suggestions include:
Deny funding to Australians with fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) and acquired brain injuries, or people with disability in prison
Reducing avenues of appeal
Removing the ‘reasonable and necessary’ test for the provision of support and services
Provide more powers to the Minister in charge to “ensure financial sustainability”
People over 65 will not be able to receive NDIS supports
“It is clear that there are significant issues around both the independent assessment trial and the proposal to change the NDIS legislation,” says Ms Connor.
“Of particular concern is the proposal to remove support from participants in prisons and those based in external territories like Christmas Island.
“NDIS support should not be rationed by punitive measures that will disproportionately affect target population groups, especially First Nations people and those living with multiple levels of disadvantage.
“Excluding people with fetal alcohol syndrome, acquired brain injuries and the prison population would remove support from disabled people who are very vulnerable in our society.”
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (NOFASD) have immediately called on the Australian Government to confirm that people with FASD will not have their access to the NDIS restricted further.
Both FARE and NOFASD have described the report as shocking and have expressed concern around the devastating impact this legislation would have on people living with FASD.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FARE, Caterina Giorgi, says, “It is one step forward and two steps back for people with FASD and their families. Just as people with FASD were starting to get the supports they need, it now looks like it will all be taken away.”
NOFASD feels the same way, CEO Sophie Harrington says, “Some of our members are already in desperate circumstances emotionally, as a result of existing barriers to accessing disability support. Further restrictions or challenges to people with FASD, their families and carers would be devastating.”
“So many children with FASD are only just getting the NDIS support they need now, and to take that away from them would be heartbreaking.”
Outgoing Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, has released a brief Twitter statement on Friday afternoon, stating that he agrees that the stress put on NDIS participants and potential participants following the recent release of the news is awful.
“The facts are the draft legislation is not complete. That is why it cannot be released, however, I hope to release it shortly. I find it abhorrent people are using what I am told is one of 78 drafts to unleash unnecessary concern on NDIS participants,” says Minister Robert.
“We are introducing reforms to the NDIS because we believe access to the Scheme and a participant’s plan should not be determined by your postcode or how much someone can pay for a report. This does not extend to removing the term ‘reasonable and necessary’ from NDIS legislation.”
Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Bill Shorten, has hit back hard, describing the leaked legislation as the “Government’s secret plan to cut and destroy the NDIS”.
“The Government is currently working through a number of versions of a new law that it hasn’t told Australians about which will take away choice and control from 430,000 participants and the people who love and care for them.
“We are saying to the Government, hands off the NDIS, don’t take away the protections which allow the participants to be able to have goals and life plans.”
“…This Government will stop at nothing to cut critical supports for people with a disability who use the scheme.”
Shadow Minister Shorten has since posted the full draft NDIS legislation document on his website. Ms Connor wants the most up-to-date draft to be released, as she believes this is a late draft of the changed NDIS legislation.