INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENTS ARE THEY WELFARE DRIVEN?

In late February, early March, I was contacted by the NDIA concerning the NDIS Independent Assessment, where the NDIS offered me $150 for the completion of the pilot program. According to the NDIA the independent assessment should take no longer than 3 hours, however, mine took approximately 4 and half hours. Below is an excerpt from an article from the Guardian expressing these outstanding problems (full article found here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/mar/07/backlash-grows-over-independent-assessments-plan-for-disability-scheme).

“The Morrison government is facing growing backlash from the disability community over a plan to introduce “independent assessments” to the national disability insurance scheme by the middle of the year. Under the current process, applicants submit evidence from experts, including their specialists, and these reports are evaluated by the National Disability Insurance Agency. From mid-2021 they will undergo an “independent assessment” by an allied health professional employed by one of eight contracted providers paid by the government. The changes have sparked widespread backlash, including from a coalition of 25 disability advocacy groups which this week called for the plan to be scrapped.

They said their clients had expressed “acute fears regarding the risks to their health, wellbeing and access to reasonable and necessary supports”. Labor, the Greens, and the Liberal MP Russell Broadbent have also suggested the change is a cost-cutting exercise, a claim strongly denied by the government. The government argues that people with disabilities and their families are now forced to spend money collecting reports from experts. This has meant outcomes have been inconsistent and too often based on where a person lives or their access to health professionals.

This week the NDIS minister, Stuart Robert, released data showing plans were worth more on average in more affluent electorates in Adelaide, compared with less wealthy areas. The government says the assessments – which will be free of charge and last about three hours on average – will create an easier, “streamlined” process.”

Social Insurance Versus Welfare

The NDIS looks to provide social inclusion and this is provided through an insurance scheme, which has as its goal to provide better outcomes for people with disabilities. It is able to provide for insurance instead of welfare. That is, it looks to enhance opportunities instead of looking solely and abstractly at the first hand obvious needs. With such a utilitarian outlook many welfare recipients will be stereotyped.

The NDIS is structured on the insurance model. This is to ensure social programs are met and empowerment is encouraged. This is quite different from the welfare provision model, and in opposition to its short term needs-based structure

The insurance scheme approach to supporting people is different. Built into its approach is a prudential insurance governance cycle which deals with a set of forecasts of what the NDIS will cost. For this, data will be collected that will validate or change those forecasts.

Presently, there is more data on people with disabilities so they are able to assess their needs better. And so, they will be able to demonstrate the most effective supports for them and will be able to assess if the outcomes differ from expectations resulting from the services provided. They can then make changes accordingly. Insurance schemes are data driven processes. This means that over time it will lead to better, more cost-effective outcomes for people with disabilities and their families.

Welfare schemes aim to minimise costs over very short periods of time whereas insurance schemes minimise costs and maximise opportunities over a person’s lifetime and are more aligned to their individual needs. Therefore, NDIS will reap better outcomes as they invest in independence and participation of individuals and the nurturing relationships of their families and loved ones. It also holds out the prospect of the nurturing of these vital relationships by all involved.

In addition to being data driven they invest in research, for example, accident compensation schemes have been researched thoroughly. Insurance companies have been important sources of social change as it gives the wider community the opportunity to pool in their money towards the amelioration of the lifestyle of people with disabilities. And so, this will ultimately lead to greater social outcomes including a reduction in attitudes based on stereotypes.

Thank you to Dani, Amanda, Lina and Sarah for being beautiful people in their assistance of me in finishing this work. A big thank you to Bruce Wearne in all his work that has helped bring me to this stage.

I talk about social issues and disability in my book, 6 and a ½ Years on a Dunghill: Life in Specialist Disability Accommodation.

The book can be purchased from Amazon as a paperback or in kindle ebook format. It can also be purchased from Foyle, or Fishpond for Australians.

You can also order directly from me.

Author: petergibilisco

Researcher, author and advocate. Bachelor of Business Accounting, PhD from Melbourne University. Dealing with issues involving disability.

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