The NDIS: Today and Tomorrow

Actuary and Director of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), Jessica Twigg, reports on the current state of the NDIS and some important lessons gleaned from the trial period of the scheme.

1 July 2016 marked the completion of three years of trial for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the beginning of a new chapter in Australia’s history; the rollout of the scheme across the country.

At its core, the NDIS represents a significant shift in funding and support for people with disability.

The Productivity Commission labelled the previous disability system as “underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient”. The NDIS offers a nationally consistent scheme, where supports are tailored to a participant’s individual needs.

The concept of “choice and control” underpins the NDIS, allowing participants to shape their goals, the types of supports they require and the providers who will deliver those supports.

Sarah Johnson, NDIS Scheme Actuary and the 2016 Actuary of the Year, will present a concurrent session on the NDIS at the 2016 General Insurance Seminar in Melbourne on Monday 14 November.

The actuarial team

We now have the opportunity to apply the lessons learned in trial to a new period of change for the scheme.

By the end of trial, the NDIS was operating in nine locations around Australia, funding over 30,000 participants at 30 June 2016. Sarah has helped to guide the scheme through its first three years, building an actuarial and data team of over 40 people.

Tasked with monitoring and ensuring the financial sustainability of the scheme, the team has developed comprehensive reporting on the participants who have entered the scheme during trial, their characteristics and their costs.

This monitoring identified some pressures, including higher than expected numbers of children entering the scheme. The collection of comprehensive data has enabled the development of management responses to address these issues, including the introduction of the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach which provides a gateway to the scheme for children aged 0-6 years.

The actuarial team for the NDIS.
The actuarial team for the NDIS.

A robust framework

Over the next three years, the NDIS will grow to support more than 460,000 people with disabilities. This period of rapid growth requires a robust monitoring framework and the development of a suite of supporting tools and reports. Tools such as the Outcomes Framework and Reference Packages are essential in monitoring the scheme’s progress.

The introduction of a new, more efficient planning process and a fit-for-purpose IT system will also assist the transition to full scheme. This framework will allow the continued monitoring of scheme cost pressures while ensuring people with disability are able to access the scheme, and the certainty of funding it provides, as quickly as possible.

At full scheme, the NDIS will represent one of the largest sources of data on people with disability, their supports and their outcomes, in the world. This wealth of knowledge will help the scheme fulfil its promise to allow people with disability to live an ‘ordinary life’, maximising opportunities for independence, and social and economic participation.

The significance of the scheme and its potential benefit cannot be understated – not only for people with a disability and their carers, but for all Australians.

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