NEDA is gravely concerned regarding alleged reforms to the NDIS, which would prevent access to individual support packages for children with disability under nine years of age, as reported in The Saturday Paper on the 26th of March 2022.
Restricting access to individual support during the early stages of development for children with autism and intellectual disabilities can be detrimental. Early childhood is an important stage in a child’s life, and for children with disability it is a key point in life in which they need the best professional services and support available.
While there is value in early childhood intervention through community programs, which are offered to children under nine years old, these ‘low cost’ programs cannot replace individual treatment and diagnosis from a health professional - which many participants cannot access without the NDIS’ individual support package.
According to the request for tender reported in The Saturday Paper, the NDIS’ ‘individual assessments’ proposal would be reintroduced through the community programs, and directed by the NDIA. These individual assessments have been repeatedly and unanimously condemned in the past, as it would add more layers of red tape and bureaucracy in the way of vulnerable people who need access to support.
There are further challenges for the families of children with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds, who often face existing accessibility barriers relating to culture and language when accessing support. It can be difficult to navigate the system through these barriers and support their children even without unexplained cuts to funding, and limitations on what support is available to them.
NEDA advises NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds to discuss the matter with peak bodies and urges the reconsideration of cuts to individual support for young and vulnerable NDIS participants.