HomeHealthNDIS reforms are coming. Will you be affected?

NDIS reforms are coming. Will you be affected?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is set for its first major reform going into full operation in 2020. The Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, this week presented legislation to the Australian Parliament aimed at overhauling the scheme.

Among its aims is the introduction of protections against fraudulent and unethical practices that have come to light since the introduction of the NDIS. Disturbing examples of this were highlighted in a government report last year, highlighting unscrupulous behaviour of boarding house operators.

The legislation also aims to address an aspect of the scheme which produces different outcomes for applicants with similar needs. A third aim is a tightening of control on budgets and supports.

Exposing and exterminating NDIS exploitation

Sadly, there will always be those who seek to exploit any scheme and/or legislation for nefarious purposes. The NDIS has not been immune to this and last May several examples of such unscrupulous practices were laid bare.

Mr Shorten himself highlighted a report which revealed what he described as “alarming examples of exploitation of people with disability”. These included NDIS participants across the Supported Residential Services (SRS) system, historically known as boarding houses.

Examples included:

  • accommodation services stealing funds from residents’ financial accounts;
  • people with disability being coerced to approve false hours of supports so that services could charge without working;
  • lack of access to clean clothing and very poor food with little nutritional value.

Evidence showed that recipients of NDIS supports were being taken advantage of in the environment of boarding houses. This included those on Supported Independent Living packages. The government took immediate action but also recognised the need for greater protective measures through legislation.

Some applicants are more equal than others

A review of existing practices identified that existing assessment criteria could produce vastly different outcomes for applicants with similar needs. This was acknowledged by Mr Shorten who committed to changing the assessment methodology.

“Your needs assessment will look at your support needs as a whole,” Mr Shorten said. “And we won’t distinguish between primary and secondary disabilities any longer.”

This move to a needs-based assessment has had almost universal approval, but will require significant resourcing. UNSW Sydney’s Professor Helen Dickinson explained: “Many of the tools needed for this process do not yet exist.”

Prof Dickinson also pointed to a wariness of any changes to assessment methods,
“given the controversy over proposals to introduce Independent Assessments a few years back”. She said, “those plans were shelved after significant backlash suggested they could become dehumanising and traumatising.”

Other concerns about NDIS reform

While most agree that reform to the NDIS scheme is a good thing, questions have been raised about process transparency. Disability community patients and advocates have expressed concern about legislation being introduced without co-design with them.

Some reports suggest disability advocates who did see the bill before its introduction were subject to non-disclosure agreements. However, the government attempted to counter these concerns, claiming co-design will take place over 18 months to flesh out changes.

Mr Shorten said that while the changes to the NDIS will make the scheme fairer, they will take time. “Review recommendations will take years to implement,” he said. “There will be a significant piece of work to collaborate with people with disability on the reforms, and we are seeking the lived experience of the disability community as we continue to strengthen the scheme together.”

Have you had any experience with the NDIS? Do you believe reforms are required? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: NDIS age discrimination complaints taken to the United Nations

Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. Absolutely, reforms are required. Major reforms. I know of adults whose disability is an aversion to work getting $100,000 a year from NDIS, and one whose claims of disability is grossly exaggerated and no worse than those of an aging sufferer of mild arthritis getting 4 massages a week, unlimited use of a heated spa, manicures and pedicures. Yet a child with a very serious disability that requires special continence undies, assistance to use a toilet, assistance to dress, a very specific and expensive special diet, speech therapy, physiotherapy, psychiatric care, occupational therapy, and full-time intensive care gets just $10K a year.
    A gentleman required a new wheelchair that was priced at $15000. Because it was paid for by NDIS, the supplier invoiced $30,000! Same chair. No extra services.
    A mother of 2 autistic children, whose disabilities are mild, gets $90K per child.
    A man living in a boarding house is living in filth and spending all his money on cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, but getting tens of thousands in NDIS support – apparently for a ”mental” disability (addiction?)

    And then there are the genuinely disabled aged who can’t even access it at all because they were over 65 when it was introduced.

    The whole system is completely out of whack. Like most things run by government, it’s a disaster.

  2. I work with disabled people, I have a client who has care for 22hrs a day, which I don’t think they need as many hours, one shift (4hrs) could be cut back to (2hrs) shift mainly if he requires a drink he is still in bed, the next shift which he has had for at least 14hrs is 2/12 hours and that is to do personal care, bed bath, exercises, dressed and assisted with transfers, breakfast made and fed to him, medication administered, toileted, bed made, transferred back onto bed, washing put on if enough for a load, next shift is 5/12 hours and mainly for toileting this shift could be cut back to 3/12 – 4 hours, his ndis is roughly $500,000 per annum, I personally find this to be an exorbitant amount especially when there’s 2 adult family members there, I think families still need to step up just like with the elderly if they are still living at home, as we know they do not get nearly enough care and most elderly have paid taxes.

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