At every single forum we hold around the country, every single time we ask for stories and feedback, we hear about one issue – transport.
Well yesterday there was a little bit of good news.
Disability Ministers from around the country met in Sydney yesterday for the COAG Disability Reform Council. Given that this is one of the governing bodies of the NDIS, it is worth paying attention to what went on.
At the end of every meeting the DRC releases a communique – which is just a fancy way of saying an email which summarises what the meeting talked about.
We say “talked about” because sometimes at these meetings there is a lot of talk but not much action.
But at the last couple of DRC meetings they have really got their skates on and sorted out some ongoing issues. Last time it was working out which health supports and equipment people can buy with their NDIS funds.
This time there was some progress on transport, justice and mental health.
If you want to read the full communique you can find it on the Department of Social Services website here. But danger Wil Robinson danger it is so full of bureaucratic goobledegook and doublespeak we will spare you the pain and translate for you.
“The Council endorsed an approach to improve the provision of transport supports under the NDIS. This includes interim measures to increase transport funding for NDIS participants who are significant users of taxi subsidy schemes, and the full reimbursement of states and territories for the continuation of their schemes for NDIS participants until longer-term transport support policy and funding is resolved”
Translation: We know we should have got onto this sooner. And we are still arguing about who pays for what. But in the meantime the Feds will cough up the dough to continue to fund existing state taxi subsidies for NDIS participants until 2021.
So short term win for those who rely on taxi subsidies but STILL no long term solution for people who need more transport in their plans. And changes introduced recently by the NDIA are really disadvantaging some people. Need to keep the pressure on.
“The Council agreed the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will introduce Justice Liaison Officers (JLOs) in each state and territory to work across their justice systems. The JLOs will provide a single point of contact for workers within each state and territory justice system, providing a coordinated approach to supporting NDIS participants in youth and adult justice systems. The Council also agreed that targeted resources and training will be developed and implemented to improve the coordination of supports for NDIS participants interacting with the justice system.”
Translation: Again understand we should have got to this sooner. Again we have been arguing about who should do what. But we have agreed that now there will be new crew of people whose job it will be to make sure the justice system and the NDIS work together so no one falls through the cracks.
So good news – and particularly good that they will work with both young people and adults. But it’s not clear who the training and the resources being developed are for or how they will make a difference. Stay tuned.
“The Council agreed to an approach to improve the access and experience for participants with psychosocial disability in the NDIS and to address interface issues between the NDIS and mainstream mental health systems. The Council’s discussions underscored the importance of improving access to the NDIS for people with psychosocial disability through a range of strategies, and the need for effective interaction between the NDIS and the clinical mental health system through a coordinated approach to care, information sharing and concurrent supports, which are critical to optimising outcomes for people requiring both mental health treatment and psychosocial disability support. The Council welcomed the establishment of a Psychosocial Disability Recovery Framework, with a strong focus on recovery and supporting episodic needs, noting that this would be developed in consultation with states and territories.”
Translation: We know we need to make sure the NDIS and mental health system work better. We haven’t quite got a detailed plan but we have at least agreed to an “approach”. And we know that since day dot the recovery based model of mental health has not sat well with NDIS, who bang on about permanent and lifelong disability. We know we need to make the scheme work better for people whose needs are episodic – so we are coming up with a framework.
So – good news that they are on to it. Not so good news – they are still talking plans and frameworks. Again at the risk of repeating ourselves – need to keep the pressure on.
“The Council noted the importance of an integrated and holistic framework for maintaining critical supports for participants. The Council requested implementation be expedited and that further refinement and consultation be undertaken, including when responding to critical incidents, by the NDIA with states and territories and reflect participant experience.”
Translation: We know the NDIS is particularly bad at emergencies and triage – making sure people get help straight away when things go pear shaped. Unfortunately all we have managed to agree is that something needs to be done about it.
So – not so good news. So many of you have told us how you have been left hanging and unable to get a response when you are desperate. Again we need to keep the pressure on to move this one up the to do list.
There was also some stuff in there about monitoring Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) and looking at who and what got funded. Perhaps more importantly what hasn’t and where the gaps might be.
There was also some stuff about monitoring prices, Specialist Disability Accommodation and data and research.
And there was one interesting line right at the bottom.
“The Council also agreed actuarial advice on a Reserve Fund will be provided to states and territories by the end of October 2019. The development and design of an NDIS Reserve Fund will be accelerated for consideration by the Council when it next meets.”
We will be monitoring that one very closely to find out more about the how what where and why of any Reserve Fund.
The DRC will meet again before the end of the year so stay tuned.