Flinders University has released its 'Evaluation of the NDIS' final report this week and it reflects Vision Australia's experience of the NDIS – both the positive and the negative.
"For the most part, the NDIS has led to improved supports and outcomes for people who are blind or have low vision," says Karen Knight, General Manager of Advocacy and Government Relations, Vision Australia. "Unfortunately though, these improvements have come at a cost – effort, time and confusion for both providers and for clients."
The report notes that people will get the best outcomes if they are strong advocates or if they have the right support and Vision Australia has had firsthand experience of this, operating in the scheme from day one in 2013.
Building on these early experiences, Vision Australia has developed the specialist expertise and knowledge to support clients to understand and navigate the scheme. We support our clients to engage with the NDIS individually, or with our direct support and attendance.
The report also acknowledges the lack of training and expertise within the NDIA. To address this, Vision Australia urges the NDIA and the government to:
• Improve engagement with its providers, to make use of our specialist expertise, particularly for low incidence cohorts like blindness and low vision (currently only 2% of the NDIS participant market).
• Increase funding to the NDIS for both higher staffing levels and for training and support, so staff improve their understanding of disability. This training and support should be extended to the Local Area Coordinators.
Ms Knight said: "The report reinforces concerns about workforce supply that have been raised through the Independent Pricing Review and the National Disability Services – Australian Disability Workforce Report. This is particularly the case for Allied Health staff, and we join calls for the government to consider increasing efforts to ensure the supply of services keeps up with demand."
Vision Australia also recommends that the Government should commit to continuing this longitudinal survey, developed by Flinders University, as it provides invaluable information and insight as the scheme continues to rollout and develop.