Several implementation challenges reduce the credibility of the NDIS scheme planned by the Australian government. It is fundamentally expected for a scheme for disabled people to reach them at their doorsteps, if not literally. However, the significant issues with the scheme still are the lower accessibility and low visibility. An issue one step beyond that is many people, especially those with psychological disabilities, shy away from the process t avoid the lengthy and complex application needs and high scrutiny. This study provides plans for the probable thinking outline for designing strategies and campaigns for changing or conditioning a reform of the current approach taken by NDIS.
The NDIS offers financial assistance to qualifying disabled individuals so they can spend additional time with their loved ones, be more independent, and have access to volunteer efforts in their society and new skills, all of which will enhance their quality of life. Anyone with a handicap can access local services through the NDIS.
Figure 1: Average monthly payment by age group
(Source: NDIS, 2022b)
This study aims to identify the scheme’s current aspects that need reforms. It revealed issues regarding policy administration, accessibility, complexity in handling the processes and the profit-making tendency of some local providers working for the schemes.
2. Overview of relevant theories of policy change needed in case
The advocation coalition framework is the primary model to be followed in framing and developing changes in NDIS. It states that there exist distinct sets of fundamental beliefs about the causes and values underlying public policy; these coalitions arise due to the linkages between multiple stakeholders. These actor connections inside a policy area can be mapped. Change results from these concepts’ capacity to adjust based on various operational issues and what is effective at any given moment or location.
This model contributes by considering advocating alliances (instead of traditional structures or free-floating individuals) as the best units of internal structure and using the legislative sub-system as a foundation for developing a theory of policy change (Sommerville et al., 2022). In order to comprehend policy shifts over a more extended period, it combines the literature on best and bottom-up methods. It draws on additional literature from sociology and policy sub-systems.
Policy learning is a change theory closely related to other concepts, like the advocacy coalition model. The definition of policy learning is “directly relating changes in thinking or behaviour intentions resulting from learning and focused with the achievement of policy initiatives” (Harris et al., i2018). Adjustments in the significant elements of a policy typically result from modifications in external factors like macroeconomic conditions or the formation of a new systemic coalition government; policy learning is an essential component of the policy change and can change secondary aspects of a coalition’s belief system.
A close relationship between the two policy change theories will significantly help in applying and analysing the critical changes in the identified policy. This is due to lesser contradicting approaches or concepts coming from two very different perspectives. Both of these theories could be used in support of each other to determine the strength and differences in the approach to policy change.
3. Contributing departments for NDIS policy
The National Disability Insurance Scheme Act of 2013 (NDIS Act) created the National Disability Insurance Scheme. All authorities share in the financing and administration of the national programme. The programme’s strategy, finance, and administration are all subject to decisions by all Australian governments.
The NDIS Act must be administered by the commonwealth minister, who also has the power to oversee the NDIA and execute other legislative functions with the support of the territories and states. It is led by Hon Bill Shorten MP, who is the Minister for the National Disability Insurance schemes (NDIS, 2022)
The National Federation reform council acts as the standing council on this policy regulation of the Australian government. Previously this was being held by the Council of Australian Governments. This council meets up from time to time. The last meeting took place on April 2020 to discuss the reforms to be taken in response to the aftermaths of Covid infection in the population. This is done with the primary and sole aim of providing on-time and high-quality service to people with disability (NDIS, 2020)
The disability reform minister hailing from the council, is the key decision maker in case of the policy implementations, regulations and even the action and ideas of the reforms. He is also the sole person deciding upon the issues faced under tube implication and distribution of the policy on the country’s disabled population. The latest meeting, Communiqué 21 October 2022, aims to target and reduce the current market barriers to service accessibility for disabled participants or beneficiaries. It also talked of ways to improve the output quality and incidence. Therefore, these are the meetings that will discuss the importance of the changes that are to be brought in. This report targets the discussions from the authorities’ perspective for them to better understand or relate to the stated issues.
National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is the responsible body for administering the additions to the NDIS scheme to the beneficiaries of the participants. This administering process is again entirely governed by the board itself. This board, in turn, is advised by the Independent Advisory Council (Independent Advisory Council, 2022). This council is the head of all the research and analysis required for the advancement and management of the NDISA scheme. NDIA is responsible for holding and managing all the funds from various bodies. The funding sources are territories funding in the single pool and commonwealth, and the responsibilities also include managing the scheme funds and assessing the administration of such schemes.
4. Aspects of the policy requiring a change
NDIS has been implemented with a noble and practical approach to provide the disabled population with accessible services. Hence, the policy is expected to reach out the offices to the actual participants or the beneficiaries. This required the authorities, such as the NDIA, to work excessively to make the service or the facility visible to the people who need it. Also, the detailed and complicated process and paperwork make individuals resist the application process. Cortis et al., (2021) stated that among the people who were aware of the scheme, about 41% denied going for it as they feared the lengthy application process. Also, lack of skill and assistance contributed to the reluctance or denial observed in disabled people.
Figure 2: Interviewee awareness of NDIS
(Source: Cortese et al., 2021)
The system seemed to be complex and an experiment on the parents who want to apply under the scheme for their disabled child. Most parents felt they needed a better understanding, education and experience of the process to navigate properly (Barr, 2021). They felt that producing proof and justifying the need for the NDIs was difficult. Again, supporting the observation, Wilson et al., (2022) state that in the eerie stage of the NDIS scheme, programmatic, personal, and market barriers influence and hinder the capacity of participants to their maximum ability. Although NDIS provides facilities for people with psychological disabilities, there is a lack of equal choice options for the beneficiaries at an operational level of NDIS.
Government reports on children from birth and before school revealed that there had been a decrease in the application or number of participants of 6.7 per cent in the recent two years (NDIS, 2022a). On the other hand, this report also revealed the need for a better plan and support for children aged 14 and below. Also, efforts must be made to make these children sink for the tie-up and inclusion into mainstream education institutions or mainstream schools.
4.3 Implementation issues
Experts are attributing the design of the policy and the design of implementation as issues with the NDIS administration. The administration process is running on challenges in the face of higher expectations, tighter timelines and other judicial ambiguities.
Figure 3: Factors that are shaping choices and control the NDIS participants
(Sources: Olney & Dickinson, 2019)
4.4 Profit motives
Studies have also indicated that in case of administering and providing sources and funds to non-urban areas is a challenge. Firstly, there was no mainstream help being delivered to these people from the governance body of the scheme. In addition, there are cases being registered of the profits being eaten up by the management and not providing the required service for the applicant (Barney, 2021). People have also highlighted the higher and obsessive levels of scrutiny they undergo, especially in aboriginal areas inducing the feeling of inequality under the administration process.
5. Beginning plan for policy change
5.1 Sectors, campaign ideas, actions and strategies suitable for policy change
The main sectors for working towards the policy change are the advisory council and the decision-making bodies of NIDS. The other core contributors to the change administration and planning are the Australian government’s Department of health and aged care and the government and non-government research bodies. Also, in order to focus on the main challenge of lesser visibility, the digital media bodies and municipal departments are to be included for better representation of the scheme to the people.
Campaigns in the air and on the road would be helpful at general levels. In order to provide more customised care, people or volunteers are to be deployed by government bodies in order to present close support and assistance for disabled people. This would be aimed at decreasing the number of people not attending or applying due to the complex application process.
More customised care for psychologically disabled people and children belonging to very young ages would also increase flexibility and increase the feeling of ease in the users or the applicants. Also, surveys can be regularly deployed to get the number of existing challenges in the market. This plan should be a core part of the policy in order to improve its effectiveness year-round.
5.2 Target groups for a policy advocacy plan
This report focuses on several challenges currently prevailing in the performance and quality of facilities provided by NDIS. Few groups of people have been identified, mainly suffering from the challenges or loopholes of the policy. These people would be the primary target for the campaigns. However, the other section of the beneficiaries will also not be left out of the actions. These groups are the children before they join their schools, aboriginal people or people from urban areas and individuals with a psychological disability.
NDIS has been framed, decided, approved, and administered to help and provide proper care to people with disabilities. It brought about a significant result of people dwelling in urban areas with the scheme. However, the administration’s decisions had several loopholes. To be named these were the lack of visibility and structure. Lesser visibility and less planned structure stopped or made it hard for the scheme to reach people from aboriginal areas. The main challenges identified in this study represent these loopholes. This made the beneficiaries resist applying for the care promised by the scheme. Campaigns focusing on the critical pain points identified in this section will help increase the scheme’s outcome several folds. This would need the involvement of various public and nongovernment bodies such as the health department, the survey group, and research foundations.
Barney, J. (2021). Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing, and Responding to NDIS Thin Markets. In The National Disability Insurance Scheme (pp. 245-255). Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.
Barr, M., Duncan, J., & Dally, K. (2021). Parent experience of the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS) for children with hearing loss in Australia. Disability & Society, 36(10), 1663-1687.
Cortese, C., Truscott, F., Nikidehaghani, M., & Chapple, S. (2021). Hard-to-reach: The NDIS, disability, and socio-economic disadvantage. Disability & Society, 36(6), 883-903. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2020.1782173
Harris, P., Kent, J., Sainsbury, P., Marie-Thow, A., Baum, F., Friel, S., & McCue, P. (2018). Creating ‘healthy built environment’legislation in Australia; a policy analysis. Health promotion international, 33(6), 1090-1100.
Independent Advisory Council (2022) The Independent Advisory Council (Council) was formed to represent the participants’ voice in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Retrieved from:https://www.ndis-iac.com.au/
NDIS (2020) Disability Reform Council Update Retrieved from https://www.ndis.gov.au/news/4729-disability-reform-council-update
NDIS (2022) Retrieved from: https://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/governance/government-ministers-and-departments
NDIS (2022a) Partcipant outcome report Retrieved from https://data.ndis.gov.au/media/3198/download?attachment
NDIS (2022b) Annual Report 2021-22 Retrieved from https://www.ndis.gov.au/media/5276/download?attachment
Olney, S., & Dickinson, H. (2019). Australia’s new National Disability Insurance Scheme: Implications for policy and practice. Policy Design and Practice, 2(3), 275-290. https://doi.org/10.1080/25741292.2019.1586083
Sommerville, K., Ritter, A., & Stephenson, N. (2022). Pill testing policy: A comparative analysis using the Advocacy Coalition Framework. Drug and Alcohol Review, 41(1), 275-284.
Wilson, E., Campain, R., Pollock, S., Brophy, L., & Stratford, A. (2022). Exploring the personal, programmatic and market barriers to choice in the NDIS for people with psychosocial disability. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 57(1), 164-184.