Disability scheme assessment change paused

·2-min read

Australia's disability minister is promising to review feedback before introducing independent assessments to the national support scheme.

National Disability Support Scheme Minister Linda Reynolds met with her state and territory counterparts on Thursday, with the planned changes high on the agenda.

While Senator Reynolds said she would look closely at feedback before drafting laws to lock in the rollout, the long-term cost of the scheme was a key concern.

"It was established as - and continues to be - an insurance scheme," she said.

"Any future reforms must continue to deliver on the promise of the NDIS: to provide people with a permanent and significant disability with true choice and control over a flexible support package to achieve their goals.

"And this is what independent assessments are designed to do.

"I'll be closely assessing the independent assessment trial outcomes before any enabling legislation is taken forward."

Her predecessor Stuart Robert was concerned people with deeper pockets were receiving more support than those accessing the scheme from lower socio-economic areas.

The changes would result in NDIS participants undergoing assessments from government-approved doctors to decide what level of help they need.

Independent assessments would also be required for people having their plans reviewed, with concerns the government would use them as a cost-cutting measure.

Funding for the scheme is split between the federal and state governments, worth about $94 billion over four years.

Disability groups have welcomed the pause but want more details.

"A privatised assessment system where a person with disability's future would be determined by a tick-a-box assessment with a stranger over a few hours was not the NDIS thousands of Australians fought for," the groups said in a statement.

"We stand ready to work with the government to develop a system that is sustainable and fair for the almost 450,000 Australians with disability who rely on it."

Labor's NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten is pleased the independent assessments will be delayed but thinks it should not even be considered.

"What this anti-disability monster of a plan really needs is a stake through the heart," he said.

Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie says the pause is prudent, urging the government to undertake genuine and meaningful consultation with people with disability and their carers.

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John is worried the government will still introduce the independent assessments, urging the sector to keep campaigning against them.

An NDIA spokeswoman told AAP the agency's contractual arrangements with the organisations involved in the independent assessment pilot and full rollout were being "managed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the arrangements in place".

"The NDIA will continue to work with those organisations going forward in accordance with those arrangements."