VALID made a statement in September this year about the NDIA introducing mandatory independent assessments. Since then, we have read the information that the NDIA has published and we have worked hard to consult with people with intellectual disabilities, families and professionals about the changes.
We have presented our concerns in many forums and consultations over the past few months and we have met with the NDIA CEO, too. We appreciate the effort that the NDIA has made to engage with us to resolve the problems we and others have identified, and we acknowledge the good will and genuine commitment of many people working at the NDIA who are grappling with how to make sure that the scheme is sustainable, flexible and individualised.
VALID is not opposed to the idea of independent assessments. We believe they will be helpful for people who want and need them, and they might save people money on buying expensive therapy reports. But we also believe there is no evidence that the NDIA’s proposed tools and process will achieve the outcomes that the NDIA wants them to.
The Productivity Commission said in 2011 that independent assessments should only be used when the right assessment tools become available. Those tools still do not exist. The 2019 Tune Review also said that independent assessments should be optional. We agree. We believe that the unintended consequences of the current proposal will be potentially devastating for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Yet, the NDIA have already decided that independent assessments will go ahead and that they will be mandatory. They have not done the research or evaluation necessary to prove that independent assessments will work for people with intellectual disability, particularly for people with multiple disabilities and people with complex support needs. The NDIA have not answered our questions about how independent assessments will be used to determine an individual’s support needs.
The NDIS was designed to support the individual goals and aspirations of people with disabilities so that they can have great lives. NDIS planning was supposed to be about getting to know the participant and involving other people who know them well so that each plan is a custom-build for the individual.
VALID always looks to collaborate with decision-makers on issues important to people with intellectual disabilities and their families. But when it becomes clear that we are not being listened to, or that decisions are being made without a good evidence base, or when we are being asked to agree with something that is against our fundamental principles, we will take strong action. In relation to the NDIA’s agenda on Independent Assessments, VALID is aggrieved on all three counts.
We firmly believe the unintended consequences of their approach will be harmful to people with intellectual disabilities and detrimental to the success of the NDIS itself.
VALID therefore advises of its withdrawal from any further consultation processes on independent assessments. Instead, we will be working with our members and advocacy allies to actively campaign against independent assessments to ensure that the NDIS we have in the future is the one we fought so hard for. Stay tuned!
Kevin Stone AM