QPC highlights NDIS rollout delay in Qld and failure of public administration

The Queensland Productivity Commission has written a pretty damning draft report (Inquiry into the NDIS market in Queensland) covering the state government’s rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Queensland, even though the Commission buries the lead and doesn’t directly criticise the government. But, reading between the lines, you can see the Commission is suggesting poor program administration was a contributing factor to a massive delay in the NDIS rollout. This report deserves wide readership and a serious response from the Government to the findings and recommendations.

In the overview, the QPC observes the problem of a delayed rollout (p. xiv):

As at September 2020, 78,811 participants have been transitioned into the NDIS in Queensland, with a further 2,327 children aged under seven years receiving supports through the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) program. This is fewer than the 91,217 participants that were expected to be transitioned by June 2019…

…Queensland’s rate of transitioning people with a disability into the scheme was slower than most other jurisdictions, with the state having to face various implementation challenges. One of these challenges was that about half of participants were not receiving disability supports prior to the NDIS.

According to the QPC, the KPI for participation won’t be achieved until the first half of 2021, meaning the rollout is around two years behind schedule (see p. 20). Later on in the draft report (on p. 34) we get a sense of what went wrong, notably the lack of a trial phase for the NDIS rollout in Queensland:

The Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors (DCDSS) coordinated the whole-of-government transition to the NDIS in Queensland—establishing a dedicated program management office to coordinate cross-agency transition and to support the transition out of the direct delivery of disability services (QAO 2018, p. 5).

Transition was a challenging task, with large number of participants entering over a short time frame, disability providers faced with transitioning from block-funded models to a market-based approach, and all stakeholders learning how to navigate the processes of the new scheme (PC 2017b, p. 10). Unlike other jurisdictions, Queensland’s transition was not preceded by a formal trial… [Emphasis added]

I wish the QPC had explicitly joined the dots on how the lack of a formal trial was a contributing factor to the massive delay in the scheme rollout, but they were probably worried about appearing critical of the government, particularly given the QPC is about to be absorbed into Treasury. That said, the report provides high quality information and analysis that allows its readers to understand what’s going on. Let’s hope the QPC keeps producing high quality objective analysis when it’s absorbed into state Treasury.

I’m still working my way through the report, and I will aim to provide additional commentary in future posts. The NDIS is a hugely important social policy institution and we need to ensure its rollout is successful.

Please feel free to comment below. Alternatively you can email comments, suggestions, or hot tips to contact@queenslandeconomywatch.com

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