Big picture thinking: The NDIS from a national perspective

This session was part of the NDIS and Advocacy conference held in Geelong on 4 December 2014.

David Fintan, Branch Manager of the NDIA’s Legal and Governance Branch, gave an address on the national rollout of the NDIS, what insights can be gleaned from the experiences of other States and Territories, and where to next for the NDIA.

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Hello everyone it’s robyn gaile back again. We’ve had a bit of a program time tabling reschedule due to a very important fact that our caterers are stuck in traffic, they’re not far away. What we’re going to do is bring the session forward that was scheduled for after lunch. Our key note address for the afternoon session will commence now and we will have a new lunch time break for 1 pm. You don’t have long to wait for lunch. This session is the ndis where we are nationally and locally. Our key note address will be delivered by david fintan and i’m handing over now to deidre griffiths, executive office of villamanta legal services to moderate the session.

Thanks Robyn, I’m Deidre Griffiths from Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Services, which is a community legal centre that specialises in disability related legal issues and has a priority constituency of people who have an intellectual disability. But our telephone advice line is for people with any disability and we try to refer them to the appropriate places for assistance.

Villamanta is also a member of BDAN Barwon Disability Advocacy Network who has organised today’s conference and I’m a member of Disability Advocacy Victoria Inc.’s board of which Disability Advocacy Victoria is the peak board of Disability Advocacy Organisations in Victoria.

Without further a due, I would like to welcome our speaker David Fintan. David is the branch manager of the NDIA legal and governance branch and he is going to talk to us about the national rollout of the NDIS and what insights can be gleaned from the experiences of other states and Victoria and where to next for the NDIA. I welcome David and hand over to him.


Thank you very much for having me here today. Thank you also for your patience, I’m sure I’m not going to be able to give you the same sustenance as lunch would but hopefully I can share some useful information. I would like to begin also by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land we’re meeting on, pay my respects to their elders past, and present.

I’ve been asked to talk today about the NDIS from a big picture perspective. Obviously, I will bring a particular perspective from the NDIA itself. Before I begin, I thought it would be worth telling you a little about myself and what I do. My first involvement with the NDIS was as a lawyer in private practice. I was a partner in a global firm when I was approached by the Government to help prepare the legislation for the NDIS. I, until that time had no linked experience with disability and had not worked in the field at all. Within about 3 months, I had decided that I loved the work, loved where it was going and wanted to be part of it and was very fortunate to find a way of working with the agency.

My day job effectively is as the head lawyer of the agency but I have also been fortunate to spend about the last 6 months working in other areas including our HR area, communication and engagement and governance, looking after our board and advisory council. There are four basic things that I wanted to cover today and Deidre please interrupt me if I go over time, I certainly do not want to stand between people and lunch.

I want to begin by giving a brief overview of the NDIS and where we’re at at the moment. Next, I want to identify some of the things we’ve been able to improve during the first 18 months. Next, wanted to look at some of the things that we want to keep working on and we know we have to improve. And finally looking at some of the things that are coming in the near future both within the NDIA but also some of the reforms and things that are continuing to happen outside the NDIA.

I’m hoping that in doing that I’ll be able to convey the clear commitment we have to firstly continual learning and improvement. We’re very conscious that the NDIS is in a trial phase and therefore while we’re always going to be doing our best we know we also get it wrong and this is an opportunity to learn and improve. Secondly, our commitment to what I think are really clear and helpful to me goals that our boards identified in our strategic plan, that we’re focused on – choice and control, financial sustainability and building trust and confidence. Thirdly, as part of all of that we’re really committed to listening and working with people, people with disability, their families, carers, advocates, providers, other Governments, other agencies to build what we hope will be a world leading and sustainable NDIS.

The NDIS of course is a once in a lifetime reform and a once in a lifetime chance to fix what the Productivity Commission described as a system that was under funded, inefficient, fragmented and giving people with disability little choice. Of course, the NDIS also would not have happened without the strong advocacy and commitment of people with disabilities, their families, carers and others including their representatives and advocates.

The NDIS is a complex reform. It ultimately involves agreements between all levels of Government, Federal, State and Territory. There was a whole lot of work that went into building the NDIS, as it exists now before the legislation itself was enacted. The main reason I mention that is there is obviously a huge amount of context that leads up to where we are now which is an NDIS and I can’t help but look at it this way sometimes as a lawyer, that is defined in the act. The next job is to give life to that act. To give life to the vision encapsulated in the act.

The function of the agency, the NDIA prescribed in that legislation that means we control some things but not others. We don’t for example set the boundaries of access determining who can become a participant in the scheme or the boundaries around reasonable and necessary support, what needs to be satisfied for something to be included in a persons funded package.

What we do do is implement what we’ve been given by Government and that involves a lot of hard work to get it right. We’re also tasked by Governments through the legislation including our board, our CEO, our staff and also supported by our scheme actuary and the independent advisory council with managing and advising Governments on some of the key challenges and what I would see as some of the key tensions in the scheme. The most obvious that we’re faced with the challenge of managing and advising on I think is the tension or the balance between on the one hand the imperative to give people with disability choice and control in respect of the supports they need to meet their goals and aspirations. And on the other hand achieving financial sustainability so that it’s something that can survive indefinitely into the future.

We need to build something that lasts. In doing this, the legislation specifically asks us to take an insurance-based approach informed by actuarial analysis to the provision of funding of supports for people with disability. Of course then the NDIS itself involves really two key things – general supports, the funding made available not individually to participants but to other persons and entities to do capacity building, information provision and related work and then individualised packages of support.

In developing a plan for a person the agency has to do two things, there are two minimum things included in that plan. The statement of goals and aspirations and then the statement of supports that gets approved by the agency. The two things have to align because the whole idea is that the supports will be aligned with and give effect to a person’s goals and aspirations. Participants then have a choice except in limited circumstances as to whether that funding for supports in a plan will be managed by themselves, a registered provider or by the agency.  I will come back to that because that’s one thing that we would over the long term like to work a lot harder at.

I think at the moment a few as 5% of participants self-manage their funding which obviously then has links to the degree of choice and control that can be exercised on an ongoing basis in relation to supports. Under the legislation participants are also free to choose whichever provider they wish to provide those supports unless the supports or the funding for the supports are managed by the agency. You can see if the funding is managed by the agency then there is already some limit to choice and control because it’s restricted to registered providers.

I next wanted to look at the roll out of the NDIS to date and again I’m taking effectively a national view of what’s happened so far. To date the NDIS has rolled out in seven trial sites across the country, effectively everywhere except Queensland so far. From 1 July 2013, we rolled out in Tasmania and South Australia across the whole of the State but in aged base groups. In Tasmania 15 to 24 year olds and in South Australia 0 to 6 year olds, in NSW in the Hunter Region and of course in Victoria in the Barwon region. From 1 July this year, three further trial sites were launched in the Perth Hills area of Western Australia where there is at the same time a trial of the WA Governments My Way Approach. And in the Barkley region of the NT, which is an enormous region, including a lot of remote areas.

I’ll come back to that challenge and in the whole of the ACT but in a phased approach where people will be phased into the scheme in different groups. I think it’s worth reflecting certainly from the agencies perspectives on some of the things that have worked well. When I look back not even on the last 18 months but the first 6 months, I’ve thought if you were going to introduce a once in a generation reform you probably wouldn’t have chosen to do it 3 months before a change of Government. And all of the work that that brings in bringing a new Government up to speed and of course addressing all of its concerns and desire for deeply detailed information.

Having said that I think if it hadn’t been introduced then it may not have been introduced at all. I would much rather take that and deal with the change of Government than not.

As at 30th September 2014, and these are the most recent figures, I have available 10,939 participants have been given access to the scheme. 8,880 plans have been approved. I think it’s much closer to 10,000 now and I’m pretty certain that we will reach the 10,000 mark by the end of this calendar year, it’s worth pointing out also of those plans over 1,300 have been reviewed. That’s something we expect to continue to happen because our real emphasis is on getting plans in place knowing that we can come back and review them if we need to further trail them if a person’s circumstances change or if something in the original plan is not right for a person.

Over 1,300 registered providers of support have been registered. Just under $400,000,000 million has been committed in individualised package cost in those plans. I won’t give an annualised average cost, it is around $35,000. I just did give it. The reason I don’t is that I’m continually scaled by our scheme actuary not to talk about annualised package cost because it’s not a measure of success in any way.

What we really need to look at is the total cost and taking that insurance-based approach to the total package of support not looking at average costs. $4,500,000 million has been invested through the sector development fund and we’ve had 21 requests for review by the Admin Appeals Tribunal to date of which about half have been settled by agreement and 4 have gone through for a full hearing before the AAT.

We’ve also achieved participant’s satisfaction rating of 1.67 on a scale of minus 2 to 2. I would like to come back to that because while that’s very encouraging as an overall picture we also understand that numbers like that don’t mean that every single person has had a positive experience and that certainly doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot we have to learn.

In broad terms, the NDIS in the first 18 months is on time and is on budget. The scheme actuary’s first annual sustainability report concluded that the first year results are consistent with the Productivity Commissions estimates of productivity costs which is a lot more important than annualised average packaged costs.

There’s also a few highlights in our annual report that I think are worth reflecting on. As the report shows, many participants in the NDIS are getting jobs, engaging in further study and training, building their independence skills and participating more in their communities. Families and carers are being much better supported and now also have more opportunities to combine work with caring.

In addition to that, we’ve successfully transitioned our National office to Geelong. They’re now, including national office and trials sites around 500 staff around the country, which 11% identify as having a disability, which I think we can still improve marketabley on but is well ahead of the APS, Australian Public Service average of 3%.

It’s something we take really seriously in the agency including through simple measures. Every single recruitment activity we’ve undertaken to date has involved a person with disability often outside the agency being on the selection panel, so effectively deciding who gets jobs in the agency. And our questions always test a person’s understanding of not only the NDIS but the broader disability reform agenda and also peoples lived experience with an understanding of disability.

The Board and our Executive have established a lot of foundation documents. I mentioned our strategic plan earlier, which identifies those three core goals. We’ve got in place all the other things we need to have in place to keep Government satisfied including a risk management framework and strategy and we’re beginning work and the advice of KPMG was published earlier this year on achieving the best way of transitioning to full scheme.

Of course, more detailed information can be found in all of those documents including the quarterly reports, which are published every quarter, and our annual report. I next wanted to look at what could be improved including what we think has been improved to date. As I said earlier the fact we’ve got reasonably good participant satisfaction rate in state doesn’t of course mean we’re getting everything right.

We’re committed to developing a culture of continual learning. Our chairman and our CEO continually emphasise to us that we have to learn build, learn build. To help with that we’re establishing across the agency the processes we need to put in place to make sure we’re collecting all the information available to us both informally and formally and finding ways of using that to get better. We receive ideas and feedback all the time from people with disability, their carers, families, advocates, through one on one and informal interactions as part of our day-to-day work.

We’re also receiving feedback formally through Government. The COAG Disability Reform Council is effectively the part of COAG that includes all Disability Ministers and the Australian Parliament now has a joint standing committee involving both members of the house and the senators whose sole focus is the NDIS. They’ve already handed down their first report early this year, which included recommendations both to Governments but also to the agency about what we could do to improve. To date I think we’ve been using those bits of information to make what I hope are some important and meaningful improvements.

In January this year we made changes to the way we were undertaking the access process which has seen the average time taken to turnaround and access requests go from 29.67 days in the first 6 months to just over 13 days in the next 6 months. Again, we may not get it right all the time but I think that’s a pretty substantial improvement that shows we’re trying to get better.

In June this year the structure of support packages for scheme participants became more flexible. Focused much less on a line by line description of supports and much more on creating a better view of the whole package of supports and giving people flexibility so participants and their families could exercise more choice and control within the plan.

Early next year we’re hoping to make further improvements including rolling out an outcomes framework the idea of which is that we need to collect the data and find a way to measure whether or not peoples packages are making a difference. We can always measure whether the money has gone out the door and what it has been spent on but what we’re really interested in and what our scheme actuary is interested in is building a framework that focuses on outcomes, what kind of difference is this making.

We’ve also been using the few decisions we’ve had from the Admin Appeals Tribunal so far to make improvements. Just by way of example, early decisions have led to changes in the way we apply some parts of the access criteria and also they help to clarify the interface between the NDIS and the health system. That’s something that’s going to need continual work but through those early decisions we’ve been able to make changes to our operational guidelines. They’re effectively the documents that sit beneath the legislation and give guidance on how to implement the legislation.

While the agency and I think correctly isn’t responsible for funding advocacy, the Department of Social Services has also made available I understand to participants who are seeking review support and also legal aid assistance in certain cases to provide support for people who want to seek review of the agencies decisions. In the four matters that have gone to a full hearing of the tribunal to date there has been a legal aid lawyer supporting the person with disability.

Also while the agency again doesn’t and won’t directly fund advocacy providers which is done by Government the agency has been including in participants individualised packages amounts that can be used for support to build capacity to develop skills to do with exercising choice and control and also we hope to support self-management.

Finally I wanted to look at where to from here. The changes I’ve referred to I think are all leading to the improvement of the scheme. We understand though that change also leads to uncertainty not just for people with disability but also providers and the staff at the agency themselves as we continue to learn build, learn build. The best way to overcome this I think is to keep up to date through our website and also our regular information including webinars, email updates and our Facebook page.

What are we doing next – our current work included as I said early next year rolling out our outcomes framework. We’re also establishing expert groups in autism and sensory disability, developing the agencies mental health work plan and earlier this year the agency engaged Eddie Bartnik whose a former WA Disability Commissioner to oversee the related work on mental health and Tier 2 and develop our work plan in that area.

We’ve also been supporting remote indigenous organisations in providing their local knowledge and expertise to help rollout the NDIS in their communities where we’re finding that unsurprisingly in many ways we have to take a very different approach to building the kind of trust and transparency we need to work in indigenous communities.

Apart from those particular projects, we’re also very conscious that there is room for us to get better at improving the Australian public’s understanding of the NDIS. And in particular sharing the message that while it’s going to continually improve it is successful, it is working and building on the commitment we keep getting from Government from our Minister and Prime Minister who regularly say they’re committed to the roll out of the scheme in full. So driving home that message.

Also building the capability of people with disability, their families, carers and others to enable the exercise of true choice and control. As part of that boosting the number of participants who self-manage their funding.

There is some other important work upcoming outside the agency, which I wanted to mention and I think people would be interested in. There’s going to be a review of the legislation that establishes the NDIS next year. The legislation mandates that that has to start by 1 July. That will be run by Government, the Department of Social Services, but it will involve an opportunity for both agencies but all of you and the sector to provide input on what parts of the legislation are working and what parts aren’t.

The Federal State and Territory Governments are also doing work on building a naturally consistent approach and framework around quality standards and safeguards. That’s something that Governments agreed would remain a State, Territory responsibility during the transition phase. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing, because I think it will be critical to a successful NDIS as well.

People may also be aware that the Australian Law Reform Commission has just tabled a report following its enquiry into disability and it’s made recommendations to have a nationally consistent framework for supported decision making including national decision-making principles that would guide supported decision-making. So there is work happening outside the agency as well.

I wanted to conclude by saying that within the agency we know we have to be vigilant about listening to people. If we’re going to continually improve and get better we need to hear what people have to say about their experience of the way things are working now. Only yesterday, there were stories in the Canberra Times outlining the concerns of at least one family in the ACT who was worried about what the transition to the NDIS would mean for their son. A 3 year old with autism spectrum disorder and in particular whether they would be getting the same supports they were getting from the ACT Government which they thought were working for them.

Our Chairman Bruce Bonyhady has emphasised listening to criticism and showing respect for people with disability, their families, and their carers is the only way to keep them at the centre of the scheme and the best way to improve it. We’re looking forward to that challenge, we know it’s something we can’t do alone. We know we won’t always get everything right but we’re committed to learning from our mistakes when we do fail, and continuing to drive towards that vision of creating a world leading and a sustainable NDIS.

Thank you.


And I think there’s time for questions.

Thanks very much David, does anyone have any questions for David, do we have the roving microphone?

Thanks David, my name is George. I’m from the Youth Disability Advocacy Service. I was interested in what you had to say about reasonable and necessary supports. As advocates how can we get our heads around what would be perceived by the NDIS as reasonable and necessary considering what might be reasonable and necessary in my mind might be quite unreasonable and necessary in yours?

It’s a really good question and it is to be frank a difficult one to answer in the abstract. My starting point would always be that there’s a provision in the Act, Section 34 that sets out 6 things that our planners need to be satisfied of to include a support in the plan but within those 6 things there is a huge amount of room for judgement and also for differences of opinion.

I won’t go into the detail but if you look at some of the AAT decisions that have been published to date they illustrate the really fine judgement and balance that needs to be achieved sometimes particularly when you’re looking at something like for example, one of the tests is whether or not the support will be efficient and effective.

Ultimately, that comes down to a judgement about what evidence is available to support that something is efficient and effective but we also realise that that really shines a light on achieving that balance between choice and control and financial sustainability. Because on the one hand, if there’s choice and control with no limits, then a person would be free to choose and trial things to see whether they become effective and efficient as opposed to needing evidence up front.

While on the other there needs to be some control around what we think as an agency, how much room there is to trail things without the evidence.

The way I see it, those 6 points have to be our starting points but I think during the trial as we learn build, learn build, will help to develop clearer boundaries around that. My hope is that and what I want us to build within the agency is not an approach that draws clear bright lines between what’s in and what’s out, but empowers both our decision makers but also therefore participants and their families to exercise judgement around where the boundaries are. So that it doesn’t become an exercise in always collecting evidence right up front and actually giving flexibility and collecting evidence only where it’s a real matter of contention that needs to be tested.

I’m not sure if that helps but it is incredibly complex.

Thanks David, next question, Carol is bringing the microphone.

Hello, my name is Marta Hagan. I am from ADEC, Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities. My question is in the cases already done what’s the percentage of people who are going to receive the same support they received previously, how many get more and how many are about at the same level of support?

Is this right across all plans?

Yeah all the plans, as an average do you know?

I don’t have any figures at my fingertips. I imagine there is wide variation. I certainly know of some plans and I can think of this because it’s one of the AAT decisions I’m thinking of. A person was seeking review because one of the supports they wanted wasn’t included in the plan but overall their package was worth about 5 times more than what they had before the NDIS. That’s just one example though. Unfortunately, I don’t have figures at my fingertips about what the average might be across different plans.

Hello everyone, my name is Jody Barney. I’m a deaf indigenous consultant. My question to you is as you referred to the cultural rights of people with a different background, for example myself from an indigenous background and the challenges you’ve had and also following on from George’s question in terms of what’s reasonable and necessary. What’s reasonable and necessary for us as an indigenous community is cultural rights and cultural participation to ensure access to that. Right now that’s not recognised or an item that’s funded by the NDIA. So my question to you is about the illegal issues in terms of cultural rights, that recognition, and our cultural law?

That’s a really challenging question as well.


Firstly, I didn’t know that that particular form of support if that’s what I could call it, isn’t in the catalogue and I think is that what you meant?

I can give you a real life example. Many community people don’t live on their own traditional land so that when the NDIS application is sent through for cultural rights what a person wants is to maybe taking a child with a disability to a particular cultural land and traditional festivals, that’s what I’m referring to.

We’ve put applications forward and received a clear, definite no. So what’s reasonable and necessary, we believe it is for that child to have that cultural and traditional participation in their lore, for their cultural identity. We’d like some assistance there but right now it’s unrecognised as you said in that catalogue.

I would be really happy to find out more about it. I would assume and I’m not familiar with the decisions around that but I would assume the reasons those decisions would be made would be based on identifying the interface between the NDIS and other systems.

Having said that I’m not sure which is why I want to think about it more and understand why those decisions were made. I’m not sure that in the absence of NDIS there is another system that would fund that.

The only reason I mention that is in one of the AAT decisions we’ve had to date which involved the interface with a different system, the health system, the AAT did recognise there will still be cases where the fact that another system doesn’t fund something doesn’t mean necessarily that the NDIS will fund it.

Again, I won’t go into all the detail of that case but it was really interesting because in that case it involved the health system but arguably if more funding had been available for those things that were seen, as health supports as opposed to disability supports, then the person’s mobility arguably would’ve been improved.

I suspect it’s another one of those difficult issues where it’s about the interface between the NDIS and other and I use the term systems very loosely, but the interface between the NDIS and human rights.

Thanks David. I could just make a comment there that perhaps a lot of people with a disability and their advocates call that interface issue butt passing and we’ve lived with it for a long time under the old system and now living with it again under the new system. Another question?

Thank you, Michelle Stevens from Deaf Blind Victorians. I’m speaking nationally here on behalf of Deaf Blind Council. One of the issues we’ve found particularly in NDIS, is that Victoria we are very well represented with Heather Lawson and Trudy Ralph and deaf blind Victorians and advocacy is highest in Victoria.

I am sort of concerned greatly about the other areas of Australia where NDIS is rolled out where deaf blind people are not as well represented. For instance, Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory where the representation is virtually very, very, limited.

How can we as Australia Deaf Blind Council have a national voice on the NDIA so we can represent and make sure other deaf blind people who do not have the strong advocacy as we do in Victoria, have fair opportunity? Also, the NDIA to recognise in other areas of Australia, how could we make sure that people who are making the decisions elsewhere is making sure they’re going to make the right decisions for people who are going to receive services?

I’d answer that broadly in two ways. Firstly, I like to think that if we’re learning things and we’re making decisions differently including in a way that’s more helpful in a particular trial site or jurisdiction because it has the benefit of really strong representation and advocacy, we would be able to learn the lessons from that and apply them in other places.

Secondly, and I’m sure this will seem like butt passing again, there’s also clearly there an issue of how much funding is available as well. The strength of support depends very much on having money there to fund it and that’s something that Government has made a clear decision on that the agency won’t control.

So leaving those matters aside, which are for Government the way I would hope we could do it as an agency is to learn lessons locally and apply them nationally.

Hi it’s Jai Phillips from Communication Rights Australia. I’m wondering how it is that the NDIA is linking in and listening to the community who have little or no speech, so individuals with complex communication and how they would access the NDIA? Just leading into your statement before about linking in through Twitter, making phone calls or emails, how is it you’re having face to face contact with those that have complex communication to hear the voice, to hear the feedback from that marginalised community?

It’s probably an unhelpful answer but that’s something that we work on again at a national level in some ways. We certainly want to develop a much better website that’s much more accessible. Apart from that the way that individual trial sites have been engaging with people is something that’s been run in the individual trials sites. I think the most we could say is I know we’re welcome to feedback about how we can do it better.

I wanted to go back to this ladies question about the cultural aspect. I’m a bit concerned about the perception of the conversation that happened and I’m wondering if the answer that was given that no we won’t pay for…NDIA won’t pay for the cultural journey that she was talking about was more NDIA not paying for things that people without a disability normally pay for.

So if the family have children that didn’t have a disability, that family would pay for that link back to the traditional country and therefore it wouldn’t be part of the person’s disability.

I was just very concerned that it sounded almost discriminatory the way she talked about the answer and I’m not quite sure that it was as simple as it sounded.

That’s why I said it’s something I would like to look at. To be honest in saying that that would be one basis on which that decision was made, that’s speculation. I don’t know how that decision was made, where it was made. It sounds like to me that would be one of the considerations.

Clearly, the other side of that is the NDIS is about funding supports that aid and assist people to participate in their community. I can certainly see both sides.

Can I just respond to that, thank you very much for your support fellow delegate. The community will assume that the defined financial support for that traditional journey, they won’t ask specifically for that.

For example, with interpreting services, there is a support worker, case manager, independent care. That may not be available in the local community either so therefore we have to find the funding to bring a person in, or fly an interpreter in to that remote area. Other children as you said in the community have that particular access without disabilities, they don’t have the same issues. Their cultural identity and cultural participation is at risk and is jeopardised via the lack of accessible access.

Which again, it makes perfect sense. I would be really interested to look at that more and understand what was happening there and why the decision was made.

I’m Frances, Disability Justice Advocacy is where I work, a national disability advocacy program. When evaluating the different trial sites, in Victoria traditionally we have had a very progressive system compared to some other states in Australia.

I am just wondering what another state might think is a good deal might not be so great in comparison to what Victoria is used to and what’s the evaluation tool and how that’s been fed in to all the evaluation of the pilots?

They may think their system is becoming better because of the NDIS whereas if you’re in another state in comparison who had a better system to start off with it may not be such a great deal or that much more of an improvement and how that’s going to be readjusted in figures or looked at and compared.

I think the way we’re approaching that as an agency is rather than making comparisons between what people are getting in a package under the NDIS and what they might have got previously, to building more towards the outcomes framework that is intended to assess how useful whatever it is people are getting is in helping people to achieve their goals and aspirations.

I understand exactly the premise of the question but we’re I think taking a more forward looking approach rather comparing to what was available in the past.

But I think it’s almost inevitable that those comparisons will be made and I think sometimes they will be helpful because if people realise more support is available than they’ve had in the past and that’s being included in packages anywhere across the country, if that support is available then it should be included in a package.

Just one last question and then we will break for lunch.

Hi Nathan Grixti from Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council. David I’m just wondering particularly the work we’re doing around consumer communities, there has been a real push that part of the review process coming up, people are really wanting to address the issues of eligibility within the legislation itself. I’m wondering if you’re able to comment particularly for the self-advocacy groups that are here, what are the processes in place for people to contribute directly to the review process that’s going to be happening next year?

Simple answer is I don’t know exactly yet. That’s something that’s being run by and built by Department of Social Services. All the legislation says is it has to start by 1 July next year and report within 6 months.

If it’s like any other kind of review of legislation I’ve seen they will probably appoint someone to lead the review, they will probably release some kind of discussion paper and invite submissions. It would be through the submission process that people will get the chance to.

I strongly encourage people to use that. I don’t think we’ve worked out exactly how we will use it as an agency but we’re keeping catalogues or registers of issues we see that we would like to be considered as part of that review.

Thanks David. Just one very last question because this lady has had her hand up for a long time.

Sorry I was going to withdraw it but again I think it’s the same issue when you say about the review and it’s been pointed out several times with the communities here today. Their capacity and ability to have input at any level it’s not going to happen. The deaf blind Victorians, 50% of their meetings are cancelled because there are no interpreters. There is no way for them to even know the review is on. Certainly, it would be similar for the communication users, a lot of the indigenous communities. I think the people who are most hoping for a dramatic change out of the NDIS are the ones who are not getting the information and not getting a chance to feed in and not getting a chance to share what’s happening. I think today has been great that there is so many of those communities here.


I know there are more questions but we have to stop now and have lunch or we will run out of time. I would like to thank David very much for talking to us and we will break for lunch.

Thank you.


About David Fintan

photo of David Fintan David Fintan is Corporate Counsel at the National Disability Insurance Agency. He has 15 years’ experience advising government and private sector clients. Before joining the NDIA, David was a partner at DLA Piper, where he specialised in public and administrative law including the design and implementation of regulatory schemes, legislative drafting, information law and trade sanctions. Before DLA Piper, David was a Branch Manager at the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and a lawyer in private practice. He is married with three children (5, 7 and 14 years) and two dogs.

Barwon Disability Advocacy Network (BDAN)
The NDIS and Advocacy conference
Thursday 4th December, 2014

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