Jess Karlsson, Chairperson My Care My Choice

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been described as the largest health reform in Australia since Medicare was launched in the mid 80’s. This is due to the significant change it is, and will continue to have on the disability sector, providers, participants, carers and the broader community, as well as the expected annual spend of over $20billion (1.1 percent of Australia’s GDP).

This quarters report shows some of the rollout is going well, whilst other areas are lagging behind targets.

COMPLETING THE ROLLOUT

The NDIS is now available in all regions of Australia, except Christmas Island and the Coco Islands. This is big news. It means that the transition is almost over and we will soon be heading into a new era of the NDIS. Hopefully this means the next stage of NDIS rollout will be less frantic, with an emphasis on quality over quantity, outcomes over costs, for all participants and their families.

POSITIVE INDICATORS – WHAT’S GOING WELL

Participant satisfaction with the NDIS is currently at 90% (though many chat groups and informal reviews indicate a lower rate of satisfaction). This is the firstndis report time that this number has left the 80s since mid-2016. In more good news, the rate of unscheduled Plan Reviews has also continued to decrease. It is now down to 16.1%. This is movement in the right direction, as it hopefully indicates Participants are more satisfied with their Plans the first time around. Though to be honest, most people who got things wrong at work 16.1% of the time could probably expect it to come up in their next Performance Review.

PLAN MANAGEMENT

This report goes into some fascinating data about how different cohorts of Participants manage their Plans. It is great to see that rates of Self and Plan Management are both on the rise. Currently, 29% of people are Self-Managing, which is a 10% increase from 2 years ago. Meanwhile the rate of Plan Management has shot up by 21%, and is now sitting at 34%.

Interestingly, in this report we learnt that children are more likely to be Self Managed, whereas adults more commonly use a Plan Manager. In the 0-14 age bracket, 30% of Plans are fully Self Managed, compared to only 6% for people over 25. In contrast, people over 25 are more likely to opt to use a Plan Manager (36%), compared to the 0-14 aged band (20%). Rates of partial Self Management are pretty consistent at 11% across all age groups.

nidisRates of Self and Plan Management also differ amongst disability cohorts.  People with a hearing impairment (47%), spinal cord injury (41%) and autism (38%) are the most likely to Self Manage. Whereas rates of Self Management are the lowest for people with psychosocial disability (5%), ABIs (12%) and intellectual disability (15%). However, people with psychosocial disability are among the most likely to use a Plan Manager (42%), as are people with MS (42%) and people who have had a stroke (41%). People who are least likely to use a Plan Manager are those with developmental delays (12%), global developmental delays (13%) and speech/sensory disabilities (14%).

PLAN UTILISATION IS STILL TOO LOW

Plan utilisation refers to the percentage of NDIS Plans that people are using. It is a really important indicator of the health of the NDIS market and the ease with which people can access it. Currently, Plan utilisation across the nation averages out to 68%, which is pretty low. The longer people spend in the Scheme, the more of their Plan that they use. On average, Participants who are on their first Plan only spend 47% of their funding. But people on their fifth Plan generally use 75% of their funds. This report, we also learnt which regions have the lowest utilisation rates:

  • Northern Territory
  • Far West NSW
  • Inner East Melbourne, Inner Gippsland and Ovens-Murray in Victoria
  • Eyre and Western, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island, Murray and Mallee, Far North and the Limestone Coast in South Australia

With the exception of Inner East Melbourne, these are regional areas. It probably does not come as a huge shock to anyone to learn that there is a correlation between low Plan utilisation and rural regions.

Across the country, people are utilising a greater proportion of their Core budgets than their Capacity Building funds. The only exception to this rule is in very remote areas where people use slightly more of their Capacity Building funding (36%) than Core (33%). (Side note: it’s a pretty bad state of affairs when people are using on average around a third of their Plan. This means that there is a large chunk of people using less than that). Interestingly, Capacity Building utilisation goes down after Participants turn 15.)

In summary, this report shows NDIS is achieving more, however there is still more work to do to ensure all people are receiving the high-quality supports to live their lives to the fullest, and achieve their goals.

As always, you can find the full Quarterly Report here, including state-specific data.