A spat between the federal government and the states over the future of the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme needs to be resolved quickly, according to the NSW government.
State Disability Services Minister John Ajaka has written to federal colleague Christian Porter agreeing to meet him halfway on contentious changes to the governance of the scheme.
Prompted by an independent review of the NDIS legislation, the federal government wants the power to amend the rules of the scheme and make board appointments without being hobbled by the need to secure the agreement of every state and territory.
Mr Ajaka says he is prepared to back a model in which future board appointments and terminations be made only with the majority backing of states — currently all jurisdictions must agree — and that appointments to the Independent Advisory Council and the “giving of directions to the board” be made on the basis of consultation with the states but not requiring any formal agreement.
But there would be no movement on some aspects of the scheme which have sharper budget implications.
“I also propose that rules relating to ‘access’ and ‘reasonable and necessary’ remain as ... requiring agreement of all states for now and that this can be reconsidered after transition when the scope and boundaries of the NDIS are better identified and tested,” Mr Ajaka writes.
“In relation to the release of funds to states from the DisabilityCare Australia Fund, I am agreeable to the commonwealth’s ‘proportional payments’ approach.
“The commonwealth has 100 per cent of risk. NSW is not amendable to changing this risk allocation.
“The proposed changes to governance provide the commonwealth with sufficient capacity to administer the scheme and manage risks.”
NDIS agency bosses and the federal government have been grappling with how to control costs with an at-times vague governing act.
The full launch will begin in July when, for the next three years, the agency’s bosses will need to make 12,000 decisions a month.
The agency has agreed to use “telephone planners” to cope with the dramatically escalating numbers after they were spruiked internally by managers with experience on similar systems at Centrelink.
Planning meetings are the key juncture at which people are either granted access to the NDIS or told they might get support from other settings, such as the health or education systems.
The telephone planning system Centrelink uses to conduct assessments for payments such as the Disability Support Pension has been criticised as being too impersonal and inaccurate.
“There was a lot of pushback internally and it was made known that this won’t work for some parts of the community, it is a really worrying trend,” one source familiar with the decision said.
A spokeswoman for the NDIS agency said the phone calls were to verify existing users.
“The NDIA is contacting individuals who are part of existing state government programs through the Department of Human Services Smart Centre to verify information relating to their eligibility to access the scheme,” she said.
Read more at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/health/nsw-moves-to-solve-row-over-ndis-rules/news-story/a49122145ac26749c95c0f4d8740c123