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Stop independent assessments and cuts to the NDIS

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
26 May 2021

On Saturday I joined Fairer NDIS for all to protest independent assessments and cuts to the NDIS. Yesterday, I echoed the calls of the disability community in Parliament:

Dr RATNAM: My adjournment matter tonight is for the minister representing the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers. My ask is that he lobbies his federal counterparts to put pressure on the Morrison government to scrap the introduction of independent assessments in the NDIS.

On Saturday I joined with Fairer NDIS for All and the community to protest against independent assessments and further cuts to the NDIS. The planned rollout of independent assessments across the NDIS, described as ‘robo-planning’ by the inaugural chairman of the National Disability Insurance Agency, has been rightly met with public outrage. People with a disability and their advocates have described independent assessments as a blunt tool that fails to take into account the nuances of a person’s disability.

In an independent assessment a person with a disability is essentially asked to prove their disability to a stranger. Rather than having their capacity and needs assessed by a treating physician, participants will be met by an independent allied health professional who, in a single session, will determine the level of support the person needs. This one-size-fits-all model will completely fail to consider the nuances of a person’s disability and undermines the principle of choice and control that are the foundations of the NDIS.

In one of the clearest examples of how blunt an independent assessment can be, a young girl who at times relies on a wheelchair was found to have no mobility issues by an independent assessor. First Nations organisations have also highlighted that the independent assessments model is culturally inappropriate and will force people into a western conception of disability. The federal government says the new policy is not a cost-cutting measure. However, leaked government documents show that independent assessments could save the NDIS $700 million and generally lead to smaller funding packages for participants. The move has been met with almost universal criticism, with a survey for Children and Young People with Disability Australia finding overwhelming opposition to the independent assessments plan.

A joint standing committee on the NDIS has also been swamped with submissions opposing the move, with my federal Greens colleague Senator Jordon Steele-John saying he has never seen such an outpouring of concern in his four years on the committee. But despite the community outrage and the campaign against this policy, the Morrison government has only committed to a pause in the rollout. It is clear that compulsory independent assessments are simply a tool to block access and cut supports for participants. This robo-planning, one-size-fits-all tool has no place in the NDIS. I ask the minister to work with his federal counterparts to scrap the introduction of independent assessments in the NDIS once and for all.

 

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
26 May 2021
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