This information is out of date. You can read the latest information on independent assessments here.
In 2021 we are improving how people access and use the NDIS by introducing independent assessments for NDIS participants aged 7 and over.
Independent Assessment Pilot discontinued
On 19 March 2020 the Independent Assessment Pilot was discontinued.
The decision follows the Australian Government’s advice as set out in the Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan (the Plan).
Under the Plan, the ‘social distancing’ rules directly impact on the completion of functional capacity assessments by Independent Assessors.
This is because the assessments require face-to-face contact with participants.
What is the Independent Assessment Pilot?
The Independent Assessment Pilot (IAP) aims to better understand and assess the impact of disability for people receiving support from the NDIS.
Participants of this voluntary pilot complete a functional capacity assessment with an independent assessor using standardised assessment tools, which helps determine the impact a person's disability has on their capacity to engage in the community, school or the work place, and social activities.
The pilot focuses on understanding the functional capacity of the person with a disability to make sure they are able to access the right supports.
Continuing the Independent Assessment Pilot
The first Independent Assessment Pilot ran in nine regions across NSW from November 2018 – April 2019. The second stage of the pilot will take place between November 2019 and June 2020.
We will continue offering assessments, free of charge, to participants of all ages and disabilities that are coming up to their scheduled plan review in the Nepean Blue Mountains, Western Sydney, Northern Sydney, Illawarra Shoalhaven and Southern NSW.
As part of this Pilot, we will be trialing existing tools, like the PEDI-CAT, Vineland-3 and LSP-16 used in the first pilot and additional tools that allow us to gather a complete picture of a person’s functional abilities across all areas of their life.
To volunteer for the pilot, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is eligible to participate?
The independent assessment will be offered to participants of all ages and disabilities coming up for their scheduled plan review in the NSW pilot locations.
Where the next pilot will be
The Independent Assessment Pilot is being offered to participants in the Nepean Blue Mountains, Western Sydney, Northern Sydney, Illawarra Shoalhaven and Southern NSW.
If you are located in this area and coming up to your scheduled plan review, you may receive a call from the NDIS to invite you to participate.
How the pilot works
A person who volunteers for the pilot will complete all of the steps other participants are required to take when completing a scheduled plan review, except they will complete the additional voluntary assessment. This assessment is conducted by a qualified health professional from APM.
The revised pilot process:
- A participant who volunteers to join the trial will be connected with an independent assessor from APM to set up your assessment appointment before your plan review meeting with your LAC or NDIS planner.
- The independent assessor will help you complete a set of functional capacity assessments and will make observations during the appointment to gain a first hand understanding of the impact of your disability.
- The outcomes of the assessment will be securely shared with the NDIA to contribute to the participant’s planning decisions.
- Functional capacity assessments are just one piece in a collection of supporting evidence that the NDIA considers when making its decisions.
The voluntary assessments will not extend the scheduled plan review timeline for those participants who volunteer.
There will be opportunities throughout the pilot process for open discussion and feedback, giving those who participate in the pilot the chance to shape any future improvements to the NDIS planning process.
Find out more about the pilot
- APM – qualified health professionals experienced in disability who have been engaged to undertake the functional capacity assessments as part of the pilot.
- Participant information sheet (100KB PDF)
- Participant information sheet (15KB DOCX)
- Frequently asked questions for:
Insights from the first Independent Assessment Pilot
What the first pilot was about
From November 2018 to April 2019, the first Independent Assessment Pilot ran in nine regions across NSW. The pilot was voluntary, free of charge, and available to people aged 7 to 64 years, with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability and Psychosocial Disability; and
- people who already applied to the NDIS and were waiting for an access decision
- new participants who were yet to develop a plan
- those people who were approaching a scheduled plan review.
The assessments were offered for free and completed with a trained health professional experienced in disability.
- NDIA Productivity Commission Report – recommendations from the Productivity Commission Report informed the design of the Independent Assessment Pilot.
What we heard from the people who were part of the first pilot
The Independent Assessment Pilot was well received by participants and their representatives. 70 per cent of people invited to participate decided to volunteer, with over 500 functional capacity assessments conducted by an independent assessor completed as part of the pilot.
Volunteers were able to provide feedback about their experience and we thank those participants who took the time to do so. Participant feedback is valuable in helping us to deliver a Scheme that is focused on the needs of participants and the people in their lives.
Participant satisfaction after completing assessments was very high (91% were either very satisfied or satisfied). Participants were especially satisfied that the NDIA arranged the assessment on their behalf and felt that their assessor was familiar with their disability.
Participants appreciated the assessment appointment being held in either their home or at the Assessor’s office and felt that they were able to schedule it at a time convenient for them.
NDIA staff and partners reported the assessments gave helpful insights and more detailed information about how the person’s disability affects different areas of their life. This informed better conversations with participants and increased the level of confidence they had in developing plans.
What we found in the first pilot
Both participants and NDIA staff and partners recognised the benefits of completing functional capacity assessments.
Our evaluation determined the use of consistent functional capacity assessments completed with an independent assessor, resulted in improved decision-making and more equitable plan outcomes for participants with similar characteristics.
Ensuring independent assessments work for everyone
As a result of the first Independent Assessment Pilot, we have started to review which functional capacity assessments would best support our aim of improving consistency, accuracy and reliability in decision-making.
We have decided to restart the Independent Assessment Pilot to continue testing the use of functional capacity assessments completed by an independent assessor across all disability types, ages, cultural backgrounds and circumstances to ensure the approach is right for everyone.
The assessment process and experience will be improved for participants and their representatives, using the insights and feedback received in the first pilot
Improving the NDIS
Feedback on the pilot from parents, legal guardians, representatives and participants is instrumental in shaping how the NDIS supports people with disability now and in the future.
Those who participate in the pilot have the chance to shape any future improvements to the NDIS access and planning process through open discussion and feedback throughout the pilot process.
Assessments assist NDIA staff and partners to better understand and assess the impact of a person’s disability and determine the supports included in their plan.
We are currently investigating and testing assessment tools that focus on:
- what the person’s strengths are,
- what the person can and wants to do with or without support, and
- what environmental barriers may exist that make it easier or harder for the person to achieve their outcomes.
The idea of this approach is to highlight what a person can do instead of what they can’t, take into account the person’s good days and bad days and look at functional capacity irrespective of the person’s disability.