The NDIS “Tune” review report was made public in January. David Tune is the former senior public servant commissioned by the Federal Government to review the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). His report contains 29 recommendations on ways to improve the scheme. Mr Tune's findings are far from surprising to NDIS participants and people trying to access the scheme.

Issues around ‘transparency’, ‘consistency’ and ‘timeliness in decision-making’ have been raised as significant points of concern with many reports of subpar experiences when working with the NDIA.

While the report found many positive outcomes had been achieved and lives improved by the implementation of the NDIS, the opposite was also true. People with disability, their advocates, carers and supporters have expressed their frustration and anger that the system which promised so much has failed to deliver in so many vital areas. Every Australian Counts commented on the release of the NDIS Tune Review, saying that it was "singing to the same old tune" as what has already been well established.

“And shock horror the review found that while there was still strong support for the scheme amongst people with disability and their families and the broader community, there was also disappointment, frustration and anger about how the scheme was operating on the ground.” - Every Australian Counts

Stuart Robert MP, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, has indicated that a government response is forthcoming.

“The government will respond in the coming weeks with more details about what specific improvements we will be making and how we will set the Participant Service Guarantee into law by 1 July 2020,” Minister Robert said.

While Bill Shorten MP, Shadow Minister for the NDIS said, we didn't need "yet another review to tell us that this Government's neglect of the NDIS is hurting people with disability." Advocates and people with disability have welcomed the introduction of the Participant Service Guarantee but are trepidatious about its ability to circumvent the bureaucratic quagmire which is preventing vulnerable people in dire situations from accessing the scheme in a timely or equitable manner.

Pro Bono Australia says the report found the NDIS is not yet in tune with the needs of participants and that "disability advocates say there needs to be a stronger focus on fair access to the scheme".

Participant Service Guarantee

The Australian Government has committed to developing an NDIS Participant Service Guarantee to support positive participant experiences with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

From 1 July 2020, the Guarantee will set new standards for the time it takes for crucial steps in the NDIS process. Consequently, there will be shorter, agreed timeframes for people to receive a decision on whether they will be covered by the NDIS, to receive an NDIS plan and to have their Plan reviewed.

To develop the Guarantee, the Government commissioned a review of the NDIS Act to identify opportunities to make NDIS processes more straight-forward and remove legislative barriers to the positive participant and provider experiences with the NDIS.

The review was carried out by Mr David Tune AO PSM, as an independent expert. People with disability, family members, carers, advocates and providers from around Australia shared their experiences and ideas through community workshops, an online survey and by making submissions. The review report was submitted in December 2019.

Review findings

While the NDIS is improving social and economic outcomes for many participants, the review found that delivery of the Scheme has not been smooth for everyone or in tune with many participants real-life needs.

Feedback showed that participants:

  • found the transition confusing and frustrating and missed supports previously available under state and territory disability service systems, particularly active case management.
  • were frustrated by delays and lack of transparency around NDIA decision making
  • want more support to become informed and effective consumers
  • feel the scheme is too complex and difficult to navigate
  • feel they aren’t properly recognised and experts in their disability
  • feel that Agency officials do not understand disability or appreciated the challenges people with disability face in everyday life.

The review did acknowledge the work of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and other Government bodies to improve participants and supporter experience to enhance existing systems, services, decision-making processes.

The review also found that:

  • as this work continues, improvements to the legislation and operation of the NDIS could strengthen its focus on participants and participant experience and ensure that the scheme is fit for purpose.
  • outstanding policy issues between different tiers of government need addressing
  • clearer information in a wider range of accessible formats should be made available for participants to understand better why particular decisions are made.

 

Read the review

The full Tune Review or 2019 Review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 report can be found online via the Department of Social Services (DSS).

The review makes 29 recommendations to improve NDIS participant experiences. The recommendations include new standards and processes to support the rollout of the Participant Service Guarantee.