On June 3, 2021, the Australian Government introduced the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Improving Supports for At Risk Participants) Bill 2021 (NDIS Amendment Bill). The NDIS Amendment Bill proposed to change the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cth) to include recommendations from the Independent Review into circumstances relating to the death of Ann-Marie Smith authored by Alan Roberston QC (the Robertson Review).
The NDIS Amendment Act proposed a number of changes including how the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) would share the personal information of NDIS participants, to change the Quality and Safeguards Commissioner’s compliance and enforcement powers and to clarify provider registration provisions.
It all sounds fine in theory, but there was uproar from the disability community and Disability Representatives Organisations (DROs). When a Bill is introduced to Parliament, a Parliamentary Committee can review the Bill. The NDIS Amendment Bill was brought before the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs on August 2, 2021. Representatives from the disability community and DROs gave evidence to the committee about their concerns.
A significant concern brought to the committee was the lack of consultation with the disability community. The government had not spoken with people with disability or the DROs specifically about the NDIS Amendment Bill. It is fundamental that people with disabilities, their families, carers and supporters are consulted when laws and policies are changed. The impact on people with disabilities cannot be assumed and must be brought into the conversation. If they are not consulted, there is a significant risk that what people with disability need to protect and promote, their human rights will not be included. The NDIS Amendment Bill is still before Federal Parliament.