NDIS Board Shake-up

The federal government has set their sights on an overhaul of the NDIS board.

Assistant Social Services Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield is seeking agreement to start the process of appointing new NDIS board members. The new board will favour people with corporate experience in a move that is said to sideline states and people with disability.

The current board is made up of nominees from each of the states, including stalwarts from the Not for Profit sector, NDIS architect Bruce Bonyhady and former Chair of the National People with Disabilities and Carer Council, Rhonda Galbally.

While Minister Fifield argues that the board should be appointed based on their financial acumen, the states argue that it must first and foremost be a representative body.

Shadow Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin said the restructure “threatens to undermine one of the principles on which the scheme was built: a true partnership between the states, territories and the Commonwealth”.

But Senator Fifield denies that the States will lose control over the NDIS. “The Disability Reform Council, which represents all state and territory governments, must agree to new Board appointments and has a continuing role in providing direction to the Board.”

There is a serious risk that this new emphasis on the corporate sector will conservatise the NDIS and move it away from an approach that focuses on the lived experience of disability, which is critical to the scheme’s success.

The scheme has so far been delivered on time, within budget and with high levels of participant satisfaction.

It is critical that the right people are retained and selected to continue to drive this success as the scheme grows exponentially in the coming years. The question now is whether the Disability Reform Council can find a way to do this in the spirit of the NDIS.

Update: The NDIS board shake-up was discussed in this weekend’s edition of The Conversation. Their article raised a number of valid points – to read it, click here.