Thursday, 20 March 2014
Questions without Notice
National Disability Insurance Scheme
My question is to the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Fifield. During Senate estimates last month the community affairs committee heard that several reviews of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Agency had been commissioned by the agency board. Is the minister able to provide the Senate with an update on the status of these reviews?
I thank Senator Fawcett for his strong interest in this area. I can advise the Senate that today I am releasing an independent review of the capability of the NDIS Agency, which is the body charged with delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The capability review was commissioned by the board of the agency in response to my request in December last year for their assessment of the early operation of the scheme and the agency's capacity to plan and deliver full rollout. The review was undertaken by Mr Jeff Whalan AO, Dr Peter Acton and Dr Jeff Harmer AO. The findings of the capability review are both inspiring and sobering. They are inspiring because there are now several thousand Australians who are getting the better deal that they deserve. It is inspiring because the hardworking staff of the NDIS Agency have put in a herculean effort and achieved launch of the trial sites against the odds. But it is also sobering because the theme that runs through the report is that the decision by the previous government to bring forward by a year the commencement date of the trial sites has compromised key capabilities required to support and deliver the full scheme rollout. The review authors state:
The agency is like a plane that took off before it had been fully built and is being completed while it is in the air.
The review finds that the previous government's compressed time frame has been at the expense of planning for full scheme and has compromised the capacity of the agency to learn from the trial sites and to develop key capabilities.
I can, and I will quote directly from the review. It states:
The bringing forward of the commencement date, together with the results of compromises to the proposed design of the Scheme … has caused a large number of significant problems:
… … …
These are the assessments of an independent review. It is a report to government, not of government. It could hardly have been more clear about the impact of the previous government's decision to bring the trial site commencement date forward. (Time expired)
The review makes clear that the agency's foundations need significant work in order to deliver and sustain the full NDIS. In response to the capability review, the agency has developed an action plan and will provide further advice as to whether the current implementation timetable is consistent with a successful full scheme rollout. Let me be clear. Despite the challenges that we have inherited from the previous government, the coalition is absolutely committed to delivering the NDIS in full. We are determined to ensure that the NDIS is here to stay and that support gets to those who need it most. This is my sole objective when it comes to the NDIS, and that objective can only be achieved by an honest assessment of the capabilities of the agency, an understanding as to why these issues have arisen, and a determination to lay sound foundations for the full national scheme.