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Deep Dive into the NDIS Review – Part 1: What happened to participant choice and control?

What happens when you bring together Australia’s leading disability advocates and academics to dive deep into the recommendations by the NDIS Review? To find out check out this episode of Reasonable & Necessary for an in depth, no holds barred examination of the most controversial NDIS Review recommendations. In this 1st part, the panel examines mandatory provider registration and the recommendation that participants who need 24/7 support should be funded to share with 2 other NDIS participants. What does this all mean for participant choice and control?

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloudiTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify

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On this episode of Reasonable & Necessary, Dr George brings together Australia’s leading disability advocates to unpack the NDIS Review. Dr George, along with El Gibbs, Nick Avery, Jarrod Sandell-Hay and Sam Paior will guide you through all the big changes that are proposed, and what they might mean for you.

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloudiTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify

Download transcript 

Transforming supports at home: Making it work for NDIS participants

The Summer Foundation’s Annual Public Forum was hosted on November 2, 2023, where we enjoyed record-breaking attendance for this years’ event. We hosted closed to 160 people in person at The Arena, NAB Docklands, and nearly 700 people online. It was wonderful to see such an appetite for having these important conversations. Our focus for the 2023 Annual Public Forum was how home and living supports can be transformed so they truly meet the needs of people with disability.

Our panel of experts was made up of sector professionals, people with lived experience and policy makers, and were hosted by Elizabeth Wright, disability affairs reporter at the ABC and Paralympian. Together, they provided a robust and thoughtful conversation around what good supports look like.

Samar Bain brought the voice of lived experience to the discussion with her unique position of NDIS participant and user of home and living supports, and as trainer of support providers. Samar emphasised that appropriate training of support workers was essential to the provision of good support.

Penelope McKay shared the work that the NDIA are doing to improve home and living supports. Kate De Cruz brought valuable insight around the evidence around what good supports look like, and David Clark, CEO at InLife, shared how they are trying to make changes that improve the support provided to participants.

Find out more about our panel below:

Penelope McKay – Deputy CEO, Market Stewardship and Home and Living – NDIA

Penelope McKay is the Deputy CEO at the National Disability Insurance Agency responsible for Home and Living and Market Stewardship. Penelope will join us to discuss the Agency’s perspective on how we can transform supports at home and what the NDIA is doing to improve outcomes for NDIS participants. 

With the NDIS seeking to foster innovation in the sector, there’s no better time for the Head of Home and Living to discuss the new home and living policy. The discussion with Penelope will provide insight into the challenges and opportunities the new policy may present.

David Clarke – CEO, InLife Independent Living

David Clark is CEO at InLife, a passionate not-for-profit organisation determined to break down everyday barriers and positively transform the experience of disability support. They recognise the challenges of living with disability support and want to reshape the experience for the better. David will talk about the issues and risks associated with poor quality supports and what, as a provider, can be done to make sure supports meet the needs of participants. 

David has spent the last 15 years using business ideas to improve public sector and non-profit organisations.

Samar Bain – NDIS participant and Disability support worker trainer


“It might feel like you haven’t got choice and control but there are avenues you can take if you have the right supports in place.” – Samar Bain

Samar is a disability support worker trainer and shares her lived experience to support people with disability. She lives with cerebral palsy but is able to live independently since moving into her SDA apartment.  

Samar’s SDA apartment provides her with the freedom she has long desired, and to live her life on her own terms. Although the NDIS has improved Samar’s life, she believes there are barriers to living  with true choice and control.

Dr Kate D’Cruz – Senior Research Fellow, Summer Foundation

Dr Kate D’Cruz is a Senior Research Fellow at the Summer Foundation. She leads research projects that evaluate the experiences and outcomes of young people with disability.

The Summer Foundation’s research into the personal impact of moving into purpose-built specialist disability accommodation (SDA) provides compelling insights into the importance of support for people with disability to live well.

The NDIS has come a long way in the 10 years since its inception, but to transform home and living supports in a way that truly meets the needs of participants, the NDIA needs to embrace flexibility, innovation and person-centred choice and control in every decision that it makes.

Watch the full recording of the forum below:

Discussion paper

This paper summarises findings from relevant research on the topic to help inform the discussion about supports at home in the lead-up to, at, and after that forum.

On this episode of Reasonable and Necessary, Professor Bruce Bonyhady and Lisa Paul give their final interview and reveal major changes that will be recommended in the NDIS Review final report. This is a must see episode for anyone interested in the NDIS.

This episode is part of the Reasonable & Necessary podcast series. 

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloud, iTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify

Download transcript 

On the latest episode of Reasonable & Necessary, Dr George speaks to Alastair McEwin, former Commissioner, Disability Royal Commission about what the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will mean for the disability community.  

“I have had my head in the report ever since it was released and was more than keen to speak to the man who had spent the past 4.5 years devoted to this important piece of work,” Dr George said. 

“We discuss a new disability rights act, changes to the disability discrimination act, segregation in education, the phasing out of group homes and much more.“

This episode is part of the Reasonable & Necessary podcast series. 

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloud, iTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify

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On this episode of Reasonable & Necessary, Dr George speaks with international expert on self-directed disability supports and citizenship, Dr Simon Duffy and NDIS participant and researcher Dr Mark Brown about their new report “Redesigning the NDIS”. The report highlights the need for a sustainable NDIS, built through co-design with reliable personal budgets and peer support at the centre. It was written to stimulate discussion and debate in the disability community about NDIS 2.0, 3.0 and beyond.

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloud, iTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify

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On this episode of Reasonable & Necessary, Dr George speaks with Mitchell Skipsey from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and NDIS participant and activist, Felice Vaiani, about NDIS appeals and what to do when your NDIS plan doesn’t meet your needs. This episode is full of lots of great advice, and important things to consider when appealing NDIS decisions.   

You can also check out a new resource series created by the Housing Hub and PIAC teams on Challenging NDIS Decisions. These resources cover a range of interesting topics including how to request a review of an NDIS decision that you don’t agree with, how to apply to the AAT for an external review, how to find out the reasons behind an NDIS decision, how to request access to documents from the NDIS and how to ask for more time to apply to the AAT. You can access the resources here: www.housinghub.org.au/resources/article/challenging-ndis-decisions

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloudiTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify

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Interested to hear more about Specialist Disability Accommodation and what housing options may be available to you?

Our UpSkill team have created 2 new workshops on the hospital and NDIS interface. These online workshops are partially subsidised and are suitable for people that have basic NDIS and health interface knowledge.

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Source: The Australian – Sarah Ison | Photo: Martin Ollman

The NDIS review is being urged by disability providers to reconsider eligibility criteria for the scheme and prioritise early intervention for autistic children to prevent “increased reliance” on the NDIS throughout their lives, as part of more than 700 submissions made to the review of the $40 billion scheme.

Source: Disability Support Guide –David McManus

Three disability advocacy groups — Synapse, Youngcare and the Summer Foundation — have penned a letter to National Disability Insurance Minister Bill Shorten, Aged Care Minister Anika Wells and Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth, to address growing concerns of young Australians living with disability being placed into aged care.

On this episode of Reasonable and Necessary, Dr George speaks with Minister Bill Shorten about the 2023 NDIS budget to understand what the budget will mean for people with disabilities and our families. Is there a cap on the NDIS, will our funding packages be cut and will it be harder to get onto the NDIS? You will get the answers to these questions and more.

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloudiTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify

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Source: The Conversation | Author: Di Winkler

Just over three years ago, then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government would finally solve the issue of young people with disability having to live in nursing homes. The government developed a strategy and committed to getting all young people out of aged care facilities by 2025.

On this episode of Reasonable and Necessary, Dr George speaks with NDIA General Manager Sam Bennett and NDIS guru Sam Paior about how to manage your NDIS funds efficiently, creatively and innovatively so you can get the best outcomes out of your plan. While we focus on self management, you don’t need to self manage to benefit from this episode. It will be relevant to you if you are plan managed and even if you are agency managed and want to have more control over your supports.

To learn more about self management you can visit: 

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloudiTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify.  

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Source: The Age – Henrietta Cook | Photo: Xavier Edwards and his father, Jase, in the Royal Children’s Hospital – Photographer: Wayne Taylor

Xavier Edwards has been stuck in hospital for 12 months and just wants to go home.

But while the quadriplegic teenager is ready to leave, a bureaucratic nightmare means there is no end in sight to his lengthy stay.

VIDEO PODCAST: 15 December 2022

On this episode of Reasonable and Necessary, Australia’s leading podcast series on the NDIS, Dr George Taleporos is joined by the new CEO of the National Disability Insurance Agency Rebecca Falkingham about her key priorities, how she plans to rebuild trust and much more.

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloudiTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify.  

Download transcript

The Summer Foundation’s Annual Public Forum was held on November 25, 2022. For the first time since 2019, we were pleased to host an audience in person, as well as online. The hybrid event saw almost 600 people join us online and close to 150 in person at The Arena, NAB Docklands.

Watch highlights from the forum:

Our panel of experts, made up of policy makers, sector experts and people with lived experience of disability were hosted by Beverley O’Connor (ABC News 24), and discussed what a reimagined NDIS might look like.

Bram Heinrich-McPartlan and Tobias O’Hehir brought the voice of lived experience to the discussion, with valuable insights into their own experiences navigating the NDIS. Importantly, they both highlighted the life-changing supports that their NDIS funding provided, while also sharing how complex the NDIS is, and how difficult it was to access and understand.

Tobia’s noted that his work as a lawyer helped him to recognise what was needed to put together an application that ensured he would get the funding package he needed, bringing into sharp focus that most do not come to the NDIS with this level of expertise. “Immediately I knew this was an evidence-based process, straight away… I came to it with a law degree and comms degree, and all of my professional experience, and I was able to get the information that I required, I was able to get the evidence that I required.”

John Dardo, Deputy CEO Partners, Providers and Fraud Taskforce Group, represented the NDIA and he was joined by Alecia Rathbone from the Housing Hub and Paul Simmons from Ability SDA, who added to the discussion from the perspective of sector and housing professionals.

It was widely acknowledged throughout the discussion that the NDIS is a young organisation with an enormous task, and while it is not where it needs to be, the organisation is committed to getting better.

John Dardo explained that the NDIA is working on both system improvements and immediate interface improvements to make the NDIS better now, and into the future. “But we also have to look forward and go, what do we need to keep focussing on at every level, to improve and be better next year, and in 5 years, then in 10 years.”

Watch the full recording:

Download the transcript

There were some fantastic suggestions for improvement from all our speakers. A key theme that emerged was improvements to workforce. For example, there needs to be more level 3 support coordinator funding, as well as funding for training for support coordinators so they can become the experts that they need to be. The implementation of NDIS in-reach roles within the hospital system was also needed so there are experts within the hospital system that can work with participants and support coordinators to get the best possible outcomes.

Suggestions for change within the NDIA included NDIS policy being separated from implementation, and a positive demand activation scheme, where the NDIA identifies participants who will likely be eligible for SDA. Paul Simmons explains, “the NDIA knows who is likely eligible for SDA, it wouldn’t be perfect, but they would cover it a lot better than the market would”.

The event concluded with a great sense of optimism for the future of the NDIS. For the full discussion – the range of barriers and possible improvements, watch a recording of the event above or download the transcript.


John Dardo – Acting Deputy CEO of the NDIA’s Partners, Providers and Fraud Taskforce group

John Dardo joined the NDIA on secondment in August 2022 as Deputy CEO of the newly formed Partners, Providers and Fraud Taskforce group. John is responsible for outward facing interactions with providers, partners in the community, the national contact centre and the recently formed cross-government Fraud Taskforce. John has a longstanding senior executive career in the public service, having previously worked at the Australian Taxation Office and Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Alecia Rathbone – Chief Social Enterprise Officer, Housing Hub

Alecia Rathbone is the General Manager of Summer Foundation’s social enterprise the Housing Hub, that connects people with disability to appropriate housing. She is responsible for the development and growth of products and services of the social enterprise including the Housing Hub website, where people with disability can search for suitable housing by housing type or location, and the Tenancy Matching Service, which supports people with disability to apply for new property developments across Australia.

Bram Heinrich McPartlan – NDIS participant and SDA tenant

Bram lives with multiple disabilities in fully accessible specialist disability accommodation. Bram found accessing the NDIS a trial and it took multiple attempts to obtain the appropriate housing and supports in their plan. Bram now works casually, does disability advocacy and is grateful for the personal freedom and agency the NDIS has given them.

Paul Simmons – CEO, Ability SDA

Paul Simmons is a registered SDA provider that builds specialist disability accommodation. Together with his wife Angie, Paul founded Ability SDA in 2016 in direct response to the need for high quality SDA in NSW. Paul recognised an opportunity to support people with high physical needs by offering independent living solutions and a better quality of life. Today, Ability SDA has 45 accessible apartments with further developments in the pipeline. With a combination of industry experience in economics, finance, property, aged care and SDA, Paul is driven to build cost effective, beautiful, accessible spaces for vulnerable Australians.

UpSkill will continue to offer training and resources to support coordinators, allied health professionals and other sector professionals assisting people with complex support needs. Check out our upcoming courses for 2023. 

Online Webinar – Zoom
Wednesday 30 November 2022
TIME: 11:00am – 12:30pm AEDT

This webinar brings together a panel of experts to discuss how we can better assist people who have behaviours that concern us.  In this webinar we will look at behaviour as a means of communication of unmet needs and how we can better support a person to live a meaningful life. 

People with disability who display behaviours of concern challenge us greatly. Often the response is restrictive practices to ensure the safety of the person and others around them. While often necessary, restrictive practices are a restriction on the person’s autonomy.  So how do we support choice and control and improve a person’s quality of life when they have behaviours of concern? What can support coordinators and allied health professionals do to assist with safety and safeguarding AND choice and control?

After attending this workshop you will have a better understanding of working with people who have behaviours of concern and how you can demonstrate leadership in supporting rights, choice and control and supported decision-making. 

The webinar is the 4th in our Supported Decision-making series and takes a rights-based approach to positive behaviour support and support for decision-making, with a focus on home and living situations. 

Join UpSkill and our panel of experts as we discuss:

  • Common reasons people may display behaviours of concern 
  • The link between positive behaviour support, human rights and improving quality of life
  • Function and alternatives to restrictive practices 
  • Strategies to support positive behaviour
  • Supporting self determination of people who have complex support needs
  • Role of support coordinators in supporting people who have behaviours that concern us 
  • How we can demonstrate leadership in upholding the rights of people with disability

Meet your panel:

Donna White – National Director Behaviour Support, NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission

Donna has been working at the NDIS Commission for over four years in a range of behaviour support positions and commenced in the National Director Behaviour Support role in June 2021. Donna has worked in the disability sector for over 30 years and prior to commencing with the NDIS Commission worked in a Statewide Behaviour Intervention Service in NSW.

Donna is a certified practicing speech pathologist and has extensive experience supporting people with disability who have complex communication, behavioural, forensic, trauma and health-related support needs.  Donna has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology), Master of Arts (Communication Disorders) and a Graduate Certificate in Developmental Trauma. Donna is a published editor and author, and has presented at national and international conferences on issues related to clinical practice, intellectual disability, positive behaviour support and mental health.

Paul Jay – Self advocate and micro-entrepreneur

My name is Paul Jay, I am an independent person living in Fremantle. I am a music buff that enjoys live music, and a cafe connoisseur. I am also currently working on my own microenterprise that hopes to assist people like me to build the support network that is right for them.

Debbie LobbDirector of Professional Supports and Behaviour Support Consultant,  Microboards Australia

Debbie is a specialist behaviour practitioner and is known across the disability sector for her leadership roles in supporting organisations and families to understand the underlying needs and experiences of people with disability, particularly in relation to complex behaviour or communication needs. Debbie is regularly sought for her knowledge and experience in developing behaviour support models of practice and for her gentle supportive approach to partnering with people to go on a journey of discovery and support development.

Sally RobinsonProfessor of Disability and Community Inclusion, Flinders University

Sally does research with children, young people and adults with disability about what helps them feel safe, well and happy at difficult times in their lives. Most of her work is done in teams that include people with disability as researchers as well as asking them for their views. She also works with governments and organisations about how to listen to the things that matter to people with disability.

Who is this for:

  • Support coordinators
  • NDIS allied health professionals
  • Advocates

Any questions?

If you would like to know more about this webinar or UpSkill training, click here, or email: upskill@summerfoundation.org.au

“At first I said No!” – NDIS Chair Kurt Fearnley reveals all in this exclusive interview

VIDEO PODCAST: 25 October 2022

In this episode of Reasonable and Necessary, Australia’s leading podcast on the NDIS, Dr. George speaks with newly appointed NDIS Chair Kurt Fearnley. In this in-depth interview Fearnley reveals all about how he came to the role, his vision for the future of the NDIS and, with a bit of persuasion, he takes on some of your tricky questions.

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloud, iTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify.  

Download transcript

Latest episode

When NDIS services turn bad – Interview with NDIS Commissioner Tracy Mackey

VIDEO PODCAST: 11 October 2022

In this episode of Reasonable and Necessary, Dr. George speaks with NDIS Commissioner Tracy Mackey about what you can do if you are unhappy with your NDIS services, including how to deal with unregistered providers, and how you can make a complaint to the commissioner.

You can download and listen to the audio version on SoundCloud, iTunes (Apple Podcasts) or Spotify.  

Download transcript

The Summer Foundation would like to thank Selina Short for her service as a Director on the Summer Foundation board. Selina joined the Board on 17 November 2020.  

We wish Selina the very best and thank her warmly for her service to Summer Foundation.