PDCN recently provided a submission to the NDIS Independent Assessments Consultation stating that we do not support the transition to Independent Assessments as they are currently proposed.
We have significant concerns regarding several aspects of the proposed changes. First and foremost, we believe that a forced transition to Independent Assessments is antithetical to the objectives of providing participants with choice and control.
Participants should have the capacity to provide information regarding their functional capacities in the manner that best represents their situation.
We know that the way that a disability impacts across a person’s day to day life is variable, and that many people live with multiple disabilities which may impact across various aspects of their functioning.
We are extremely uncomfortable with any assessment that minimises the role of a person’s health care professionals in determining the supports and services they require to live active and fulfilling lives.
Treating health professionals are best positioned to provide objective information about the functional capabilities of their patients.
We are also extremely uncomfortable with the structure of the proposed Independent Assessments, and question how realistic it is to assume that an assessor will gain a complete and thorough understanding of an individual’s needs via survey responses and questionnaires across a limited time frame.
We are unconvinced that independent assessors are necessary and question why those wishing to access the scheme cannot complete the surveys and questionnaires independently, in their own time, in consultation with their treating health care professionals. We also ask why health care professionals themselves can’t be trained to fill out these documents on behalf of their patients.
The reality of the situation is that any assessment for accessing an NDIS plan and supports is stressful for a person with disability – the decisions stemming from such an assessment determine their quality of life.
There is insufficient evidence to suggest that Independent Assessments will actually improve the process of accurately determining the level of functional capacity of individuals, and there is every reason to suggest that the experience will lead to poorer participant experiences.
We wonder to what extent the NDIS has adopted an approach which amounts to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” without first exploring what participants want, and looking at less disruptive alternatives to addressing issues around greater consistently across supports and funding.
An additional concern for us is the lack of transparency around what the changes will mean for participants who already have plans and funding in place. We expect that the change to Independent Assessment may result in a reduction in funding and supports for some participants – or even a determination that they are no longer eligible for the NDIS.
We feel that participants have not been adequately informed by the NDIA about the implications that they may face as individuals. It needs to be remembered that many participants have put considerable time and effort into their plans and are generally happy with the outcome – and we are deeply concerned that an Independent Assessment could determine whether someone would be ruled out of the Scheme entirely.
We will also be contributing to a separate Joint Standing Committee into the NDIS Inquiry into Independent Assessments and are grateful to everyone who attended our NDIS Independent Assessment roundtable – your insights were critical in developing our position on this important issue. If you would still like to contribute your thoughts on Independent Assessments, you can complete our short online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6KN9NGV by Friday 19 March.