PDCN have just submitted our response to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS Independent Inquiry into Independent Assessments in the NDIS.
The Federal Government will require all new applicants to undergo independent assessments by the mid-year and will require all existing participants to complete independent assessments as part of a planning review.
It is our understanding that independent assessments will form the bulk of information that the NDIA will rely on to determine supports and services for participants.
Independent assessments will focus on the functional capacities of participants and will be carried out by a health professional with no pre-existing relationship to the participant.
While it is not 100% clear, it is understood that participants will no longer be able to rely on reports from their treating health care professionals to determine their supports and funding needs.
The NDIA has referred to an independent report by David Tune in 2019 (often referred to as the ‘Tune Review’), as the justification for the change. We have read the review and it is clear to us that the intention was that independent assessments could operate in conjunction with other forms of evidence to develop a clear picture of the participant’s needs.
It is also clear to us that Mr. Tune did not intend for independent assessments to be mandatory.
While PDCN sees the value in assessing the functional capacities of participants, we cannot support independent assessments as they are currently proposed.
We are concerned that participant satisfaction rates across the Independent Assessment Pilot have been inflated and that the rollout has been fast-tracked without proper consultation; case in point being that eight companies had already been contracted to carry out independent assessments before the independent inquiry had even closed.
We are also extremely concerned by reports that several of the appointed companies have parent companies that are themselves NDIS providers.
We have made our concerns very clear in our submission and have also spoken directly to the NSW Minister for Families, Community and Disability Services Gareth Ward. Our position is that independent assessments as they are currently envisioned strip away participants’ choice and control. We will continue to advocate for the best interests of our membership on this very important issue.