Since July 2013, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been trialled in selected locations, providing a new level of support for people with permanent and significant disability, their families and carers. During this trial phase, the Australian Government has been consulting extensively with the public and industry organisations to ensure that the NDIS is meeting the needs and providing outcomes for participants.
Vision 2020 Australia believes the NDIS is vital for empowerment on a scale like never before because it gives people who are blind or vision impaired a greater level of access to information, and freedom of choice and control over the services and supports they need, increasing their capacity to fully participate in the community as equal citizens.
Last week, Vision 2020 Australia provided input to the Department of Social Services consultation on the Quality and Safeguarding Framework for the NDIS. The following are the key points made in the submission:
The philosophy of choice and control is important for people who are blind or vision impaired to be empowered to make individual choices about their support needs. However, this must be tempered against a need to ensure that people are safe and receiving quality supports. Vision 2020 Australia has argued that individuals should be allowed the choice of where and who they receive services from, but notes that there needs to be safeguards around professional and allied health services. The Australian Government’s role in this process is to ensure professional and allied health services such as orientation and mobility instructors, optometrists and orthoptists have a higher level of regulation compared to other low risk services.
Access to information
Additionally, it is vital that people who are blind or vision impaired have access to the specific and appropriate information they need to make an informed decision. Vision 2020 Australia considers it critical that participants who are blind or vision impaired, and are seeking support through the NDIS, have access to a holistic specialist assessment both at the time of application and during support planning. A holistic specialist assessment is a general assessment undertaken by a trained professional or team of professionals, with specialist expertise in blindness and vision impairment, which looks at all aspects of an individual’s life. Reports provided by holistic specialist assessors should be considered in determining eligibility for NDIS and aged care plans and in designing individual support plans.
In two recent submissions around the NDIS— Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Policy Framework and the NDIS approach to assistive technology— it was recognised that the most important feature of an NDIS information system is accessibility. It was argued that all information should be produced in a range of alternative formats as per best practice and should be made accessible to all consumers. Vision 2020 Australia also noted that the Australian Government has endorsed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 AA rating for all government websites and recommended that the Department develop information relating to the NDIS in accordance with these guidelines. We encouraged the Department to involve organisations in the eye health and vision care sector in the development of an information sharing system, to ensure expert knowledge on accessibility needs is available and utilised.
Vision 2020 Australia will continue to remain closely engaged with the review process as the NDIS moves to full rollout to ensure it works for Australians who are blind or vision impaired.
The full submissions are available for download from the links below: