Earlier this month, QAI appeared before the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). We gave evidence to the Committee’s inquiry into the Capability and Culture of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).  

QAI focused on the current practice of the NDIA only funding supports in relation to the ‘impairment’ for which the person gained access to the scheme. This approach is not supported by the legislation, the NDIS rules or any decision made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).  

Some people with disability have multiple impairments and their impact cannot be separated.  

QAI’s solicitor Brianna Bell spoke of her own experience of this issue. 

I have been asked at several points to identify…which support needs relate to which specific individual conditions. A lot of the time, that’s just not practically possible. I can guess, but it’s not something I can say for sure…it’s not how disability works, and it’s very taxing to ask that of individuals engaging with the scheme. 

By taking this approach, the NDIA ignores a person’s changing needs and doesn’t recognise the impact that multiple diagnoses can have on a person’s function. As a result, many participants are being forced to take their case to the Tribunal.  

QAI’s Principal Solicitor, Sian Thomas, also told the Committee, “A participant has no way to appeal what the impairment…listed on their profile is. And, if there is more than one impairment listed, the impairments can be changed by the agency without notice. 

Ms Thomas said, “the way the Agency approaches these plans, by insisting on a really narrow view of what they perceive a person’s disability is, is just not correct, it’s not justified in the way the legislation is written.” 

Once a person has access to the NDIS, they need to be seen as a whole person. All their impairments, not just the one they got access for, must be considered when the Agency is funding reasonable and necessary supports.  

The Committee has now issued an interim report and have called for the NDIA to better understand the lived experience of disability.  

QAI’s Management Committee member, Brendon Donohue, also shared his story with the Committee, and spoke about the challenges of communicating his support needs to the Agency. 

We need to ensure that our world-leading scheme can continue to build upon and improve its provision of individualised supports for people with disability. 

QAI’s written submission to the Joint Standing Committee’s inquiry can be found here. 

A more detailed report on the issue raised during our evidence can be found here. It was recently presented to the NDIS Review panel by QAI together with our colleagues from Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service, Darwin Community Legal Service and Rights Information and Advocacy Centre (RIAC).