VALID’s advocacy team is working across Victoria to support people who are transitioning to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), including many people who have complex behaviour support needs. We know that the NDIS is working hard to get the entry and planning process right and that positive changes are on their way. However, we are also concerned that improvements to the planning process will not address all of the issues we see in our work for people with complex behaviour support needs.
Firstly, we need the NDIS to intervene in setting up high quality support services for people with complex behaviour support needs. We know that people with the most significant behaviour support needs, like everyone else, want to live in a home of their own, to find a job and contribute to the community, to have fun, and to have good relationships with friends and family. Too many people with a disability cannot find services ready and able to deliver these outcomes. No amount of funding can buy something that doesn’t exist.
Secondly, we need the NDIS to create new ways of assisting people with intellectual disabilities with supported decision-making through the planning process. VALID has assisted more than 100 people through their first NDIS planning meeting who do not have any family contact and who currently rely on staff who know them really well to communicate their needs. The NDIS does not yet have a clear way for people who lack legal capacity, and do not have anyone in their life who can act as Plan Nominee.
Finally, we need the NDIS to allow for people with complex behaviour support needs to have custom-built models of support, and to be prepared to fund unusual arrangements in a small number of cases if it helps to achieve an individual’s goals or to keep them safe. For example, VALID has one client who is being held in prison without charge because there isn’t a house available to move into. In this case, the NDIS could help fund private rental costs for 12 months while permanent housing is found. Another client needs a very specialised car because he has support needs that mean he can’t drive, use public transport or taxis, but the NDIS is yet to consider special exemptions to the rule that it does not fund cars. Rules are important, but so are outcomes.
VALID is working to ensure the NDIS gets the balance right.