The NDIA recently released its Annual Report for 2017-18. These reports undeniably put a positive spin on things and there is always more than a little bit of data burying. Nevertheless, the data they provide gives us a crucial insight into how the Scheme is actually tracking. That is something that all of us - Participants, providers, families, the government - need to be on top off.
A lot of the data in this report is not actually new to us, as it was included in the last Quarterly Report for the year (see our summary here). But there are some interesting insights that we wanted to share with you.
The Feel Good Stats
It is easy to get caught up in what is going wrong with the NDIS and the magnitude of the problems we face. No statistic should be used to dismiss the real stress and suffering that the Scheme has caused many people with disability. But it is also important, for our sanity’s sake, to remember that there are also some things that are going right. Here are some examples for the annual outcomes framework questionnaire:
91% of parents of kids between 0-6 believe the NDIS has helped their child’s development.
82% of parents of kids between 0-6 believe it has increased their child’s ability to communicate their needs.
69% of parents of children between 7-14 believe the NDIS had improved their child’s ability to develop and learn. It is interesting to note the difference between this and the 0-6 aged group. This makes a strong case for early intervention.
71% of Participants over 25 said the NDIS had helped them with activities of daily living.
95% of Participants said they felt their Planner had listened to them.
Just a timely reminder that the ‘NDIS blowout’ that we keep hearing about in the press is completely fake news. This year the Scheme came in under budget, as it has every other year since its inception. Moreover, projections show that it is likely to remain within the Productivity Commission’s estimates in the coming years. So to all our decision-making friends at the Agency- you can probably relax a little. Whether it is children with autism or cases at the AAT, you should probably take a breather and remember that things really aren’t looking that bad.
At the start of this year, the NDIA released a Pathway Review that promised a new general pathway for NDIS Participants and six specialist pathways. The specialised pathways were for children under 6, people with complex needs, people with psychosocial disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in remote or very remote communities and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
But there have been some concerning rumours floating about that suggest the specialist pathways are being dropped. Therefore, I was quite keen to see whether they were mentioned in the report. Fortunately, reference was made to the CALD and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pathways. The psychosocial disability pathway was also confirmed in a rather frustrating ministerial press conference on World Mental Health day. Hopefully, this means that the other pathways are also going ahead. The report also confirms that after a successful trial in Victoria, the new general pathway experience will be rolled out national.
Independent Pricing Review
The report includes some interesting information about the impact that the recommendations from the Independent Pricing Review (IPR) have had on providers. Apparently, changes implemented so far have improved provider’s margins by 2-4%. Margins are even higher in rural areas, and for providers working with people with complex support needs. It is not completely clear what this data is based on.
Staff at the Agency
There is also some interesting information about the staff make-up of the NDIA:
91% strongly believe in the NDIA’s purpose and objectives (what the other 9% are doing there is a mystery).
74% of the workforce is female- though tellingly this figure drops to 66% at executive level and 48% at senior executive level.
14% of the NDIA’s workforce has a disability. This is compared to an appalling 3.7% at the rest of the Australian Public Service. The Agency’s target is 15%.
3% of employees are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
We are all guilty of sometimes being negative about the Agency, so I guess it is important to remember that they are human too.
When summarising last quarter’s report, I went on a little bit of a rant about how few quotes there were from NDIS Participants, compared to parents and family members. With this report, I am happy to say there has been a substantial improvement. Last report there were 3 quotes from parents and 1 from a Participant. This report there was: 4 quotes from Participants, 1 from an Agency staff member, 1 from a LAC worker and 2 from parents.
Now isn’t that a whole lot better?
Last report I was like:
But this report they were like:
That is it from 2017-18. What a (financial) year it has been. Once again, I urge you to read the report. Do not be intimidated by its length. Heaps of the pages you can skip as they are just board member profiles and financial statements (though hopefully some accountant will read those). But seriously, we cannot possibly cover all the information in these reports in one short article. You really have to check them out for yourself.
That being said, we will always be here with our little summaries. So, see you next Quarter!