November 2015 eNewsletter

In this issue:

Assistive Technology: changing lives

Image from the conference foyer Image: Photo of disability advocate Sean Fitzgerald using assistive technology.

The NDIS Assistive Technology (AT) Strategy was released at the NDIS New World Conference in Brisbane at the end of last month.

Technology is increasingly a part of everyone's life, and for people with disability it can help them perform tasks they could not otherwise do, and to do this more safely and securely. It is allowing many people with disability to reach their potential at home, in their community and in the workplace.

AT is a big component of the NDIS, with up to 50 per cent of participant plans in trial sites including AT so far. We expect to be spending $1 billion a year on AT supports with NDIS participants when the Scheme is active across the country.

Our aim is for participants to have choice in and access to the AT solutions that give them greater autonomy and independence and enable them to live the lives they want.

It is critical that the NDIS harnesses the full potential of technology in the short and long term. It is creating opportunities in employment and participation that will change lives and also the Scheme.

Three priorities of the NDIS AT Strategy are:

  • Supporting and stimulating a vibrant and innovative AT supply market for NDIS participants by providing a conduit for such innovation and promoting the take-up of AT solutions
  • Encouraging informed, active, participant-led demand for AT by empowering participants to choose technology that best supports their needs
  • Delivering a financially robust, sustainable approach that generates economic and social value in the long term

The NDIS can see great potential for innovative service delivery models to emerge through the use of technology generally (eg. ICT, remote equipment diagnostics), particularly in remote areas.

Co-design work with people with disability and sector stakeholders was part of creating the AT Strategy. This approach will continue to be a fundamental part of strategy development and implementation for NDIS.

Read the Assistive Technology Strategy.

North Queensland prepares for the NDIS

The NDIS early transition sites in Townsville, Charters Towers and Palm Island in Queensland welcomed 10 new Local Area Coordinators this month.

NDIS Local Area Coordinators provide an essential service in the delivery of the NDIS, helping people with disability connect with a range of local support networks and services, depending on their individual needs and interests.

The Queensland early launch sites will deliver much-needed supports and services to children and young people under 18 years of age in Townsville and Charters Towers and all eligible people under the age of 65 in Palm Island.

The new team members have been seconded from the Queensland Government's Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and will begin planning conversations with eligible participants and their families in the months ahead, with funded supports starting progressively from 1 April 2016.

The NDIA team in Townsville have also begun provider readiness events, hosting a forum for local providers on 26 November, with more planned in the New Year. To keep up to date visit the Queensland events page.

Simone's Digital Dreams to come true

Huy Nguyen Image: Huy Nguyen at the NDIS New World Conference

The NDIS New World Conference in October bought together technology providers and innovators to listen and share ideas people with disability had for technology to change their lives. On day two of the Conference Digital Dreams Presenter, and Advocate, Simone Stevens from Geelong, presented her dream of a remotely controlled umbrella built into her power wheelchair.

Simone shared her frustration with some of the limitations of her wheelchair, “with scooters, you can see they have individual canopies. They don't do that for wheelchairs and that is difficult. I don't have any function in my left hand, so it is difficult to grip an umbrella. What I have to do is use a shower cap.” Simone thinks an automated cover would give her more freedom to leave her home independently without having to worry about bad weather. “I could press the button, and a poncho would go up over the wheelchair, so I don't get wet.”

Session Facilitator and CEO of Enable Development, Huy Nguyen was intrigued by Simone's idea and after the conference contacted the NDIA to be connected with Simone. Huy and the Enabled Development team will now be working with Simone to design and develop a prototype of her Digital Dream.

We look forward to hearing more from Simone and Huy in the not too distant future.

To watch Simone's Digital Dreams presentation and many other informative sessions from the Conference check out the Webcasts on the NDIS New World Conference page.


Joint Standing Committee releases second report on NDIS

The Joint Standing Committee (JSC) released its second report on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) last month.

The JSC is a bipartisan committee of twelve federal politicians who are tasked with reviewing the implementation, administration and expenditure of the NDIS.

The JSC plays an important role in gathering information and reporting on how the Scheme is working for people with disability, their families, carers and providers.

The Committee's report also identifies a number of areas where communication, implementation and delivery arrangements need to improve in order to deliver the Scheme more fairly, effectively and efficiently.

The NDIS has put in place an operating style which takes feedback from our stakeholders and then implements improvements to strengthen the Scheme.

The JSC made several recommendations to improve the NDIS in their latest report.

We are considering these closely and will respond accordingly to the recommendations in the report.

To read the report in full visit the Parliament of Australia website reports page (new window).

Kirby has choice and control

Image from the conference foyer Image: NDIS participant Kirby

Canberran Kirby Turnbull is a 19-year-old girl whose interests include boys, shopping, music, and movies. Kirby has four older brothers and loves to socialise.

Kirby has cerebral palsy and as a result of this has limited movement.

Kirby's mother says, 'Before the NDIS came in we received no services - I never sought services out and they were never offered to me.

'Being an Air Force family, we are never near extended family so we always have to rely heavily on ourselves.

'Now I've gone from being a full-time carer to being a mum, and that is the greatest gift you can get.

'The boys are seeing their sister happy and my husband and I are now living the life that we never thought we would live.

'For us, it's only been six months but it's been freedom.'

The Turnbull's choose to self-direct Kirby's plan and can pay providers directly for delivered supports.

The plan gives choice and control over who is caring for Kirby and allows her to engage in new activities - so important now that she has finished high school.

An up-to-date eye-gaze device and access to a speech pathologist are improving Kirby's communication with others, and access to support workers is enabling her to go with her friends to karaoke, tenpin bowling, the movies and for walks out and about in the community.

NDIS benefitting more people with disability, their families and carers

The latest quarterly report on the progress of the NDIS was recently released. The report shows that delivery of the NDIS continues to be on time and on budget.

More than 19,700 people are now benefitting from the NDIS, with more than $1.2 billion invested in the services and equipment Australians with disability need to live more independent lives.

Key findings of the report include:

  • 19,758 people with disability had an approved NDIS plan, at a total cost of $1,201.1 million. This represents 94% of the bilateral targets.
  • The cost of the average package (excluding residents of large institutions) is $34,831. This remains below the expected full Scheme average of $38,600.
  • Participant satisfaction levels with the NDIS remain very high.

The full report is available on the Quarterly reports page.