17 September 2020
The National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) wishes to express serious concerns regarding the recently announced changes the Government is making to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), particularly in relation to the introduction of an “Independent Assessment” process for NDIS participants, beginning January 2021.
We are discouraged by the lack of genuine consultation with the disability community, prior to the Minister’s announcement. Our preliminary analysis of the publicly available Government information pertaining to the Hon Stuart Robert’s late August announcement, is that the Independent Assessment process has a real chance of creating additional administration barriers for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) NDIS participants.
We are also disappointed that the introduction of the medicalised and standardised Independent Assessment process appears to be a step away from the social model of disability. Removing a participant’s right to choose a practitioner, with whom they deem to have a lasting and trustworthy relationship with, is not in keeping with choice and control principles and expectations set out in the NDIS Act.
Although we support the Government’s motivation to simplify NDIS access and eligibility processes, we struggle to understand how specifically the Independent Assessment process works to achieve this. It is not clear whether the Independent Assessors would have the requisite knowledge in understanding the complex needs of CALD people living with disabilities, due to communication and cultural practices.
Furthermore, we are seriously concerned how the Government expects the Independent Assessment function will affect CALD NDIS participants who already experience compounding barriers to NDIS access and NDIS plan equity.
We believe, as a matter of urgency, the Government should commit to working in collaboration with Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), in relation to NDIS Independent Assessor function, ensuring that any policy affecting CALD people with disability is developed and approved by CALD people with disability.
CALD people with disability and their representative organisations, that is, DPOs need to work in partnership with governments to truly co-design, co-create, and co-evaluate policy and systems that directly affects us.
We continue to call upon the Government to build a stronger engagement mechanism with CALD people with disability to ensure we are engaged in all aspects of the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
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