QAI was commissioned by the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DSDSATSIP) to undertake an analysis of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan reviews to identify trends and potential lessons for advocacy practitioners. This information will allow QAI to create and publish tools, links, and information resources to improve advocacy services and build the capacity of advocacy organisations to effectively assist Queenslanders with disability, their families and carers to access the supports the National Disability Insurance Scheme is designed to provide.
Despite the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme recommending the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) develop and publish de-identified summaries of settlement outcomes in the Adminisrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in their ‘NDIS Planning Final Report’ in December 2020, no such information has become available.
Instead, QAI has conducted a desktop audit of published AAT decisions for the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2021, and accessed other sources of information (eg. AAT annual reports and NDIS Quarterly reports) which provide further insight into the outcomes of NDIS plan reviews.
QAI has also accessed data from the AAT (via e-case database searches and direct request to the AAT) to gain some understanding of the overall status of AAT matters (including the large majority of cases which resolve without a final hearing).
This report represents the first deliverable of the project commissioned by DSDSATSIP. It will be used to assist with the further deliverables which include the development of appropriate tools and other supporting material (e.g., fact sheets, decision trees, guidelines) to improve NDIS appeal advocacy services.
From this work, QAI has identified the following key trends:
- The increase in applications to the AAT (for external review of a NDIA decision) is not matched by a commensurate increase in applications for internal review. This demonstrates that the key driving factor in the increasing number of people applying to the AAT appears to be a consequence of a change in approach by the NDIA at the internal review stage.
- There has been an increase in the percentage of internal review outcomes in which the reviewer has affirmed the original decision. The timeframe for this trend correlates with the introduction of the Participant Service Guarantee in which internal reviews must be completed with 60 days.
- Only 1% of matters result in a hearing with a published decision. This means a large majority of decision-making and outcomes at the AAT are opaque and shrouded in secrecy.
- The AAT reports that between 1 July 2021 and 31 May 2022, the ‘outcome’ of 35% of AAT applications was ‘other’ meaning they were either withdrawn by the applicant or dismissed by the AAT. This is significant and further analysis as to the reason for withdrawal is required.
- The AAT data indicates that in 2021, 63% of NDIS appeals matters were resolved by consent. QAI’s experience in acting for participants at the AAT in relation to a review of supports is that almost 100% of those cases result in a participant receiving additional supports.
- For the period 1 January 2019 – 31 December 2021 where a decision was made at the AAT in relation to the provision of supports, the AAT set aside or varied the original decision of the NDIA in 76% of decisions.
- For the period 1 January 2019 – 31 December 2021 where a matter went to hearing, 35% of applicants had no legal or advocacy representation at the hearing and either represented themselves or had a family member or friend assist.
- The AAT Reports that in the 2021 calendar year, only 13% of applicants had legal representation whilst a further 39% had an ‘advocate or agent’. The NDIA is always represented by a lawyer (who is either employed by the NDIA, the Australian Government Solicitors or an external law firm).
You can read the full report at the links below: