In October 2021 Australian Progress held a webinar called ‘Lessons from the Campaign to Stop Independent Assessments which brought together a panel of activists to share their insights.
The NDIS isn’t just a cost, it’s not just an economic thing, it’s really important social infrastructure that also give backs to the economy. – Jean Cotchin, Every Australian Counts
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the key program through which people with disability gain access to a range of supports and services in Australia. Introduced in 2013 and fully rolled out in 2016 it has had a positive impact for many people and added new funding but has also been criticised for issues related to inconsistencies and delays in accessibility, resources, and decision making.
In September 2020, the Australian federal Coalition government’s intention to use what it described as ‘independent assessments’ (IAs) to determine access to funding was revealed. These had not been recommended by a recent review of the scheme and their announcement raised concerns about fairness and applicability. Apprehension deepened as it became clear that pilot schemes were to be run prior to proper consultation and that IAs would be linked to restrictions on choice as well as cost-cutting.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic action against these changes rapidly got underway under the banner of Every Australian Counts, an ongoing campaign run by the National Disability & Carer Alliance. This had originally fought for the NDIS to be introduced and since acted to improve it.
Lobbying saw the Joint Standing Committee Hearings on the NDIS announce a federal parliamentary inquiry for 2021. In the meantime, hundreds of stories were collected by campaigners documenting people’s experience of the NDIS as well as how IA and cuts would negatively impact on their lives. Alongside this MPs were heavily pressured and a number of media stories run revealing flaws in IA pilot schemes and further plans for damaging reforms.
Following a change of NDIS minister in April 2021 a six-month pause was placed on IAs. During the April and May 2021 inquiry, widespread opposition to IAs and other changes was strongly expressed. As the minister pushed on, the campaign further ratcheted up pressure on all levels of government. With state and territory disability ministers and a range of MPs now opposed, the federal Coalition government finally abandoned their plans in July 2021. Although this was a major grassroots victory, people with disability and their supporters remain vigilant and continue to campaign for improvements to the NDIS.
The campaign was won by the people, for the people… Campaigns that are community driven and community driven are very important. Governments can’t just change things when and where they feel like it. – Joan Riemer, First Peoples Disability Network
During the webinar, people shared some valuable links in the chat. These were compiled by Australian Progress and can be found below.
- Inclusion Australia website
- First People’s Disability Network website
- Join Every Australian Counts here
- ‘Behind the scenes of a powerful campaign: a case study in effective advocacy,’ – Croakey Health Media / Every Australian Counts
- The Independent Assessments legislation
- PIAC’s explainer on the proposed changes to the NDIS
- Dougie Herd speaking at the NDIS Joint Standing Committee
- NDIS Sector Statement with Every Australian Counts
- EAC’s explainers from during the campaign
- EAC’s ‘Have your say on the proposed changes to the NDIS Act and Rules – One way people were able to take action
- National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Participant Service Guarantee and Other Measures) Bill 2021 – Currently open for submission (closes 8 November)
- ‘Disability community stopped govt plans to introduce independent assessments’ article
- ‘Disability sector celebrates after Coalition forced to scrap NDIS independent assessments’ article
- ‘NDIS Minister says independent assessments model is ‘dead” article
- Jean Cotchin – Communications Officer, Every Australian Counts
- Catherine McAlpine – CEO, Inclusion Australia
- Dougie Herd – Executive Director, Community Connections
- June Riemer – Deputy Executive Director, First Peoples Disability Network (Moderator)
- Australian Progress Collection
Access other articles, videos, conference proceedings from Australian Progress.
- Lessons learned
Shared wisdom about lessons learned and reflections from different campaigns and activists.
- Campaigning - Grassroots
- Lessons learned_Reviews_Reflections
- Lived experience
- Movements_Campaigns - People with disabilities
- National Disability Insurance Scheme NDIS (Australia)
- People with disabilities