A Tasmanian disability advocate admits she is scared by proposed reforms to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, labelling them a "cost-saving exercise".
Jane Wardlaw, a Launceston-based disability consultant, questioned whether there was evidence to support the federal government's proposal to introduce independent assessments of NDIS participants' disability before determining their plan packages.
Addressing the media in Launceston on Thursday, Stuart Robert, the Minister for the NDIS, said legislation was set to be introduced in the Federal Parliament shortly, and the government hoped it would come into effect by the middle of this year.
"I am not only concerned, I'm really a bit scared about this reform legislation that's currently being drafted," Ms Wardlaw said. "These independent assessments, they're going to mean that an external body ... is going to come in and apply a set of tools, apply a set of questionnaires that are identifying our functional limitations."
Currently, an NDIS plan is determined in consultation with medical professionals.
Mr Robert said differences between average NDIS plan budgets across Tasmania's five federal electorates showed reform was needed.
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According to the minister, the electorate of Clark, which encompasses Hobart, has an average NDIS plan budget of $105,600. Meanwhile, in Lyons it's $70,200, in Franklin $68,900, in Bass $80,000 and in Braddon $81,300.
Mr Robert also noted that the differences could be observed at the local level, with local government areas in the North of the state receiving an average of $71,000 in plan values compared to $86,000 in the Launceston municipality.
"Access to the NDIS and a NDIS participant's plan should not be determined by your postcode and the data released today demonstrates we have a way to go to deliver a simpler, faster, fairer and more flexible NDIS in Tasmania," he said yesterday.
"Whether you live in the Huon Valley or Hobart, Longford or Launceston, or Burnie or Battery Point - Tasmanians with a significant and permanent disability deserve to have access to a fair and consistent NDIS."
But Ms Wardlaw said she took "umbrage" at the fact the minister was comparing participants' plan packages "without actually understanding it's a lot more than postcodes".
I am not only concerned, I'm really a bit scared about this reform legislation.- Jane Wardlaw, disability advocate and consultant
"People aren't provided a funding package just simply based on their postcode," she said. "It's based on their needs."
"And what he forgets to actually share with people is that those pockets down in Hobart that he quotes, they might have a greater number of people living in institutions or group homes or large institutions compared to Launceston."
"So it's a real furphy. It's misleading."
Ms Wardlaw said advocates did want greater consistency to be applied to the NDIS, but that the goverment's proposed solution was not appropriate and hadn't been sufficienctly consulted - a claim Mr Robert has denied.
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