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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4337

National Disability Insurance Scheme

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:10): My question is to the Minister for Social Security. Minister, the NDIS is a really important initiative, and I'm delighted that it's being rolled out in my electorate of Indi. However, there have been some concerns about plans, timelines, meeting needs and review processes, as well as concerns about autistic children and those on the spectrum having limited access. Could you please take some immediate action to address the delays that people have been referring to and clarify the position on what's happening with autism?

Mr TEHAN (WannonMinister for Social Services) (14:10): I thank the member for her question. As the member knows, the NDIS is a world-first reform, the size and scale of which means the scheme will not be without its challenges. Around 150,000 Australians with disability now receive life-changing support through the NDIS. When it's fully rolled out, it will support 460,000 Australians. Currently, there are more than 40,000 people on the NDIS who have not received any support before from either Commonwealth or state and territory governments. As former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes said today:

Any social reform rolled out nationally will have challenges … but for a project as big as this the scheme is doing quite well.

Work has already commenced on a number of initiatives to improve the administration of reviews, and outstanding reviews are being prioritised. One major project undertaken by the NDIA is the participation and provider pathway review. The NDIA recognises that requests relating to assistive technology and home modification drive a notable portion of review requests. These are complex, and the NDIA is addressing these areas. In addition to this, the NDIA has taken on more resources to clear backlogs and process complex claims. In the next 12 months the NDIA will also take on an extra 500 permanent staff. These measures will help us work towards an improved system for reviews and a smoother transition from current arrangements to the NDIS.

I can also inform the member that there has been no change to the policy with regard to people with autism qualifying for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Everyone with autism who is eligible for the scheme will be provided with the help and supports they need. As recommended by the Productivity Commission, ongoing work continues on how people access the scheme. I can assure the member that no changes will be made unless they are informed by research, evidence and extensive consultation with stakeholders and the community. Today I have written to organisations that support people with autism to confirm this.

Finally, as the Treasurer stated in his budget address, every dollar and every cent committed to delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme remains in place and always will.