The New NDIS Participant Service Guarantee: What Does It Mean For Me?

You’re not the only one who finds the NDIS slow and unclear. A recent review found that many people have to wait too long, find the NDIS hard to navigate, and don’t feel that their own expertise in living with a disability is recognised.

Hopefully, that will change from 1 July 2020 when the new NDIS Participant Service Guarantee takes effect. It means the NDIA will have to complete its tasks within set timeframes, so you get clear answers more quickly. It also holds the NDIA to a set of engagement principles for how it treats NDIS participants.


The New NDIS Participant Service Guarantee: What Does It Mean For Me?

How long did it take for you to find out whether you were eligible for NDIS funding? Once you knew you were eligible, how long did it take for you to receive an NDIS plan? Or to have your plan reviewed?

It probably felt like much too long.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) told Parliament that the average waiting time for a child under 6 to access the NDIS was 121 days, rising to 152 days for kids over the age of 7. That’s an average wait of 4-5 months. Over 1,000 people have died waiting (replying on state-based services in the meantime).


The NDIS Review

After the last election, the government commissioned a review of the NDIS. The findings were published in January.

The review found that the NDIS was helping many people to achieve their goals and participate in their community. It recognised that moving people from state and territory disability services to the NDIS in a three-year timeframe was an ambitious goal. It also noted that the NDIA was a relatively new organisation, still getting its systems in order and training its workforce.

But it also found that many NDIS participants:

  • Found the NDIS complex and difficult to navigate
  • Were frustrated by delays
  • Wanted more information
  • Thought there was a lack of transparency about how the NDIA makes decisions
  • Didn’t feel that their own expertise in living with disability was recognised
  • Felt NDIA staff didn’t grasp what it was like to live with a disability

Another finding was that the NDIS works best for adults with a physical disability. The review recommended changes to provide better support to people with psychosocial disability (which may come and go) and to families of a child with disability.

To improve the people’s experience of the NDIS, the review recommended a Participant Service Guarantee, which comes into effect on 1 July 2020.


What is the NDIS Participant Service Guarantee?

The NDIS Participant Service Guarantee is a set of standards for how long it should take the NDIA to complete key steps in the NDIS process.

Basically, it means there will be shorter and clearer timeframes for the NDIA to:

  • Tell you whether you’re eligible for the NDIS
  • Finalise your NDIS Plan
  • Review your NDIS Plan.

The standards will also cover how the NDIA engages with you, as many participants reported feeling disempowered and disrespected.


What Are the New Timeframes?

The review proposed deadlines for the NDIA at key stages of the NDIS process.

Process Timeframe
NDIA to make an access decision 21 days (no change)
Participants to provide information to support an access decision 90 days (increased from 28 days, meaning you get more time to submit your documents)
The NDIA to start the NDIS planning process after making an access decision 21 days
The NDIA to approve a plan following an access decision 70 days (dropping to 56 days in July 2021)
The NDIA to offer and hold a plan implementation meeting after approving a plan 28 days
The NDIA to amend a plan once a participant provides information (including quotes) 28 days for ordinary processes

50 days for complex home modifications or assistive technology

The NDIA to start the scheduled plan review process Must start within 56 days of the scheduled plan review date
The NDIA to decide whether to agree to an unscheduled plan review 21 days (if no decision is made in this time, the NDIA must do the review as requested)
The NDIA to complete an unscheduled plan review 42 days (dropping to 28 days in 2021)
The NDIA to explain their decision if the participant wants to know 28 days
The NDIA to meet your request for an internal review 90 days (dropping to 60 in 2021)
The NDIA to implement a decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal 28 days


How Should the NDIA Treat Me?

The Engagement Principles outline how the NDIA should deal with people with disability and their families.

The NDIA is called to be:

  1. Transparent
  2. Responsive
  3. Respectful
  4. Empowering
  5. Connected.


Will It Make Any Difference?

We really hope that the NDIS Participant Service Guarantee improves your experience of the NDIS.

The NDIA has always had to report on its performance every three months on the delivery of the NDIS across Australia.

The NDIA will now also have to give a detailed report to Australian governments on its performance against the NDIS Participant Service Guarantee. It will have to report on how much of its work has been completed within the set timeframes and to the agreed standards.

You’ll also have a chance to have your say, as the review recommended an independent participant satisfaction survey should be introduced.


What Happens Next?

The review made 29 different recommendations. The government is working its way through them. Some mean the law needs to change, others mean the NDIS needs to operate differently.

The NDIS Participant Service Guarantee takes effect from 1 July 2020. It’s important that you’re familiar with it so you know your rights. That’s why we’ve explained the timeframes and standards for you in this article.


How Can Focused Healthcare Help?

We’ve worked with many NDIS participants and understand the system. If you need an advocate to help you with the NDIA, then we’re here for you. If you like our ethos and approach, then you can switch to us from another provider.


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