In December, the Australian Government released the final report of the Independent Review into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The Report marks a significant milestone with an overarching goal to put people with disability at the heart of the NDIS framework. With 26 recommendations and 139 supporting actions, the amount of information presented can be overwhelming. Prospert is here to guide you through the essential highlights of the NDIS Review, with a specific emphasis on its implications for disability employment. 

Recommendation 1: Investment in Foundational Supports 

The first recommendation emphasises investing in foundational supports to create a fair, balanced, and sustainable ecosystem for people with disability, their carers, and families. This foundation sets the stage for a good life and aims to be accessible to all.  

Within this context, Action 1.7 calls for the Department of Social Services and the National Disability Insurance Agency to enhance linkages between the NDIS, Disability Employment Services (DES), and related initiatives, fostering an integrated ecosystem for improved employment outcomes. The good news is that National Cabinet has agreed to jointly design and fund foundational disability support outside the NDIS. The report also highlights peer worker support, drawing insights from the mental health sector’s experiences.  

Based on these findings, Prospert recommends that DES providers continue to build relationships with NDIS providers to enhance employment outcomes for participants. In addition, we see opportunities for DES providers to learn from the peer worker support model which could be trialled within DES organisations and employers. 

 Action 1.13: Investment in Adolescent and Young Adult Support 

Action 1.13 recommends a joint investment by the National Cabinet to support young people with disability aged 9 to 21 years in navigating key life transition points like secondary school, employment, and independent living. This investment aims to develop job-ready skills and build confidence, with a particular focus on aligning support delivery with mainstream services.  

Prospert recommends that DES providers work more closely with mainstream employment services – both internally and externally. Specifically, we see opportunities for Transition To Work providers to more effectively support young people with disability outside of the NDIS into employment pathways. 

 Recommendation 4: Navigating Service Systems 

Recommendation 4 advocates for supporting all people with disability in navigating mainstream, foundational, and NDIS service systems. The proposal includes the establishment of specialist Navigators for individuals with more complex needs. This initiative aims to create a unified support system centred on the whole person and their specific needs.  

We know that many employment services providers play an important role in assisting participants in navigating barriers to services such as housing, education, mental health, and family violence. Prospert encourages DES providers to continue this important work by building strong, trusted relationships with mainstream services including primary healthcare and community organisations. 

Action 7.2: Early Intervention Pathway for Psychosocial Disability 

Action 7.2 proposes the establishment of an early intervention pathway, especially for new participants with psychosocial disability. This pathway includes supports such as supported employment, recognising the importance of providing timely interventions for people facing psychosocial challenges. Participants who no longer need the NDIS because their supports have been effective could then move into mainstream or foundational supports.  

We believe that all employment service providers including DES organisations should implement workplace training on psychosocial disability and have a role to play in educating employers about how to support episodic needs and personal recovery. 

Recommendation 11: Reforming Pricing and Payments Frameworks 

Recommendation 11 suggests a comprehensive reform of pricing and payments frameworks to enhance incentives for NDIS providers to deliver quality supports. Providers are encouraged to focus on achieving positive outcomes for participants, including community connection, increased inclusion, and successful employment. The proposal calls for more robust auditing and transparent reporting on providers’ performance against quality and safety metrics, fostering accountability and informed choice.  

This recommendation is consistent with steps taken by the Department of Social Services to introduce a new DES Quality Framework and may also indicate more changes to come for outcome payments and reporting. 

The NDIS Review’s recommendations and actions present a transformative agenda to reshape employment support for people with disability. As we move forward, staying abreast of developments across the disability policy landscape is critical. Prospert welcomes conversations with providers to explore ways to embrace these recommendations, fostering a more independent, connected, and inclusive future for everyone.