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We have changed our name! Kids on the Spectrum is now called Living on the Spectrum

Pressure growing to scrap Independent assessments for NDIS participants.

Last week the planned implementation of independent assessments for all NDIS participants have been put on hold. This is the direct result of growing pressure from advocacy groups and opposition political concerns.

What does this actually mean for NDIS participants? Well not a whole lot to be honest. Late February eight private contractors signed 339 million dollars’ worth of contracts to deliver the independent assessments. Minister Linda Reynolds and the government remains committed to rolling out the new independent assessment scheme. The Minister stated the scheme will be put on hold until all results from the ongoing trial had been assessed.

Minister Linda Reynolds, holts rollout of NDIS independent assessments

So, let’s look at what independent assessment will actually look like.

Key facts as stated on the NDIS web site.

  • Your independent assessment will focus on your capability, rather than your disability. 
  • An independent assessment uses recognised, standardised tools. 
  • Independent assessors are qualified health care professionals, not NDIA employees.

NDIS are seeking all new participants and existing participants due for a plan review to undergo an independent assessment. These assessments will be carried out by someone who is not currently involved in your support or care. The concern here, is an independent individual who is meeting you or your child for the first time will be the person who qualifies you for funding. They will make a decision on how much support you or your child should receive.

It often takes months and years to build up a relationship with allied health, support workers and for carers to establish needs, the NDIS are now saying they will give you 3 hours to prove you need support and, at what level.

Advocacy groups have also raised concern in regard to trauma and prospect of reliving traumatic experiences. It is being suggested that such trauma may undo years of support by valued members of your existing support team. In terms of assessing an Autistic individual, the question will be,

“does the assessor fully understand autism, and the needs of an autistic individual?”

One of the concerns raised by advocacy groups was “What if you or your child masks during the assessment? The assessor will have no idea of the needs required to support you or your child from a 3-hour meeting” In fact, diagnosis of autism alone can take up to 3 years with consultation of paediatricians, speech therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists. A 3-hour assessment by someone who is not qualified is raising concerns among some advocacy groups.

Senator Jordon Steele-John , disability activist and Australian Senator representing Western Australia for the Australian Greens.

At the moment support needs are assessed via written reports by your Allied health team and doctors along with a questionnaire to determine the support needed, although the questions are not the sole criteria for allocating funds. . While this is not fraught with its own issues on gaining appropriate funding the assessment is multi-faceted. Its aim is understand needs from a varied group of individuals. The new revisions will leave it solely in the hands of an independent assessor from the 3 hour interview.

So what can you do? If you do have concerns you can address these with your local member of parliament or write direct to the Minister in charge of the NDIS, Minister Linda Reynolds.

Have you been involved in the new NDIS self assessment trials? We would love to hear your stories. The new assessment changes may actually be of benefit, however many remain skeptical that it is a ploy to reduce NDIS participants to meet budget restraints.

email us at info@kidsonthespectrum.com.au with your story.


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