Understanding NDIS My First Plan: Part 2
NDIS My First Plan has come as a bit of a surprise to many and since we first shared the announcement of My First Plan there has been a lot of eyebrows raised, more information and naturally even more questions. As such, we wanted to take the time to share with you some of these and will be closely watching the development of this change to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. In particular we’d like to give a shoutout to our Facebook community and the amazing folks in the Facebook NDIS Grassroots group (because it’s a private group we haven’t identified the awesome knowledge champions sharing there, but please know we thank you for your contribution to building knowledge of the Scheme).
Where will My First Plan apply?
At this stage, it seems My First Plan is specific to New South Wales. Other States & Territories will be moving forward with their own plans for rollout (what was it the ‘N’ in NDIS stands for again?).
[Update Jun 4: We’ve received word of mouth that NDIA is promoting My First Plan for the rollout in Victoria and that an NDIA rep in Queensland has suggested My First Plan or something similar may be used to facilitate transitioning people from existing services]
The NDIA has put forward My First Plan as a means of assisting people transition to NDIS and has stated that it was developed based on feedback that goals were too much to handle on top of the transition. Given that it now appears My First Plan is State specific to New South Wales, it seems less likely that My First Plan is genuinely about participants (or is the NDIA implying that only NSW participants are struggling with goals?).
It is harder to chalk this up to a ham-handed but well intentioned attempt to help people make the switch to NDIS when the change is limited to one State. This gives more credence to alternative theories of why the change. We’ve previously put forward that there are some obvious benefits to the NDIA in making this change and noted that this unilateral approach lacks the person-centred spirit of the scheme’s intent. While we can’t presume to know the inner workings of the agency, in this light it is becoming harder to give the benefit of the doubt on the benevolence of this move.
From a direct stakeholder perspective, it may have been better for the NDIA to simply acknowledge the transition challenges and have an open conversation with participants, carers and providers about short run changes to support long term success of the scheme. However, given the upcoming Federal election the NDIA has made statements to avoid becoming part of the political debate:
The Australian Government has assumed a caretaker role with an election to be held on 2 July 2016. It is important…
Is My First Plan legal under the NDIS Act?
A super sleuth in the grassroots group has identified that My First Plan may be in conflict with the legislation that created the NDIS. The whole Act can be found here if you are legally inclined. But it does appear there are aspects of the legislation that specifically require goals to be part of determining supports under the scheme including:
Section 33 1a
33 Matters that must be included in a participant’s plan
(1) A participant’s plan must include a statement (the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations) prepared by the participant that specifies:
(a) the goals, objectives and aspirations of the participant;
(The above emphasis is from Legislation.gov.au and was not added by CareNavigator.com.au)
Section 33 5a
(5) In deciding whether or not to approve a statement of participant supports under subsection (2), the CEO must:
(a) have regard to the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations;
and Section 34 1a
34 Reasonable and necessary supports
(1) For the purposes of specifying, in a statement of participant supports, the general supports that will be provided, and the reasonable and necessary supports that will be funded, the CEO must be satisfied of all of the following in relation to the funding or provision of each such support:
(a) the support will assist the participant to pursue the goals, objectives and aspirations included in the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations;
While we respect the work and role of the NDIA and acknowledge the substantial challenges in delivering a major advance like the NDIS, it would be concerning if these actions (even if temporary) are in contradiction to their legislated powers.
[Description: Man with hand on face doing paperwork]
What does My First Plan mean for people who don’t currently receive supports?
This is a harder question to answer, because the alternate question is what would NDIS access look like for people not currently supported if NDIA had not implemented My First Plan? Maybe the first thing to consider is that while the rollout will begin in large parts of NSW from July 1, this really is the beginning of an ongoing process to bring people in to the scheme.
This was never going to be a simple flick of a switch. July 1 is the start of the transition and from that time people will begin moving in to the scheme. To this extent it is hard to say if people who don’t currently receive supports will be better or worse off under My First Plan.
The skeptical case would suggest that My First Plan shows that the focus of the NDIS rollout will be on maintaining existing clients on existing services. The implication is then that if you are in the group of people classed as unmet need you may face challenges in the priority of your access to the scheme.
The positive case would hope that as My First Plan is designed to streamline induction to the scheme, it will bring more people some NDIS coverage faster. While the trade off for speed will be accuracy (appropriateness of supports), in this ideal case My First Plan could assist more people (including people with unmet need) to access supports sooner than they would have otherwise.
Where can I find out more about My First Plan?
At this stage there appears to be limited details available online, however another knowledge champion from the grassroots group was able to find this PDF of an NDIS booklet outlining My First Plan as part of joining the scheme.
What can I do about My First Plan?
Join the call to stop My First Plan and bring back choice and control. There is now a Change.org campaign calling on Ministers and the NDIA’s leadership to stop My First Plan and return the legal right of NDIS participants to have the choice of a goal-based plan.
We are concerned that the NDIA has taken this unilateral, illegal and unethical action. Together we are voicing this concern. If you share this concern and want to protect our NDIS, join together with us and add your support to the petition.