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Summer Foundation submission: Inquiry into Independent Assessments

The Summer Foundation believes that the proposed midyear rollout of independent assessments should be postponed and an evidence based pilot, co-designed with people with disability, disability organisations and other experts in the field implemented. 

This recommendation is part of our recent submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS inquiry into Independent Assessments. We are also proposing a number of other changes to ensure individual needs and preferences are taken into account.

Dr George Taleporos, Summer Foundation Policy Manager  said the organisation is aware that some of the current problems with accessing funding under the NDIS  may be addressed by the introduction of free and timely independent assessments but that a number of serious problems with the proposed changes had been identified.  

With the right framework, co-designed with people with disability, independent assessments could address some of the barriers existing in the current process for younger people with disability stuck in residential aged care and hospital settings,” Dr Taleporos said.

However, we know the proposed changes to the NDIS go beyond what has been recommended by the TUNE Review and pose a threat to participant choice and control. 

“Independent assessments must not be used to take away reasonable and necessary support and individual goals and participant choice and control must remain central to the NDIS.” 

“Planners, assessors and everyone involved needs to approach their work seeing possibility, not just problems. If the aspirations and goals of people with disability are taken out at the early stages – i.e. in the development of the personal budget – it seems that the foundation of the process/eventual plan could be in danger.” – Helen, NDIS participant

The Summer Foundation put forward 10 recommendations to the Joint Standing Committee as part of the submission, as outlined below.

Recommendation 1: Halt any rollout of independent assessments and undertake the necessary consultation to develop the Independent Assessment Framework

Recommendation 2: In line with the recommendations of the Tune Review, the NDIA should consult with people with disability and other disability experts on the design of the Independent Assessments Framework. A process in line with codesign principles is strongly recommended

Recommendation 3: Create a fit for purpose assessment toolkit

Recommendation 4: Introduce optional independent assessments for people who need them

Recommendation 5: Ensure that personalised budgets are informed by a participant’s individual needs and goals, as prescribed in the Act

Recommendation 6: Ensure training, qualifications and suitability of independent assessors

Recommendation 7: Provide allied health professionals with access to training and the framework used by independent assessors to ensure quality and consistency  

Recommendation 8: Increase choice and control over assessment and assessment options for participants 

Recommendation 9: Develop an appeal process for independent assessments 

Recommendation 10: NDIS participants should be provided the full report from an independent Assessment

You can read our full submission here.

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