Current Resource Gaps identified by Advocates:
There were a number of different resource gaps identified by advocates and these can be grouped into five different categories:
Questions asked by the NDIS in planning meetings
Overwhelmingly, advocates wanted a list of questions that are asked in the planning meeting to be able to appropriately prepare their clients
Vocabulary, Interpretations and training in “Legal-ease”
Advocates have noted that in order to successfully work with the NDIA, they need a really good knowledge of the vocabulary used by the NDIA with the specific interpretations of what terms mean. Interpretations of certain terminology can mean the difference between working out where the health system or education system fits in, and determining who takes responsibility. It was also noted that they need a clearer translation of items in the NDIS Price Guide.
It was suggested that a forum or training session about the legal-ease surrounding the NDIS, how the system works and how to work with it, run by lawyers that have knowledge in the area would be useful.
Web-based resources page/manual
There is a lot of information already available on the NDIS that is available on the NDIA website. However it is very difficult to navigate and find things. It is also impossible to tell if something you have come across is useful or important. One example of this is the freedom of information section, which details how to action a freedom of information request. This is information that is useful and important but wouldn’t occur to everyone to look up.
Advocates noted it would be useful if they had a one-stop shop to go to a certain page, click on the heading such as “planning”, “appeals” etc. to get what you need. However it needs to be more user friendly than the NDIA website.
In this resource it was noted that it will be helpful to link the Disability Loop resources created by Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) and have notifications of training from this team.
It will also be helpful to have a list of links to specific forms that need to be filled out. For example, when you want to request a plan review, there is a link on the page to a specific form for this. It will also be helpful to have a list of suggested reports that might be required and can be consulted to make for a quicker planning meeting and process.
It was noted that online advocacy training will be useful, particularly for new advocates, and DARU should keep abreast of everything new that is happening and distribute it in an organised way- i.e. housing and where things are up to.
Some advocates would like agencies to be given a manual that works with all of the levels of the NDIS as we understand it at this stage. It needs to include the paperwork that is required at certain stages, what forms your clients should be filling in, what are the variables of the responses and how are they interpreted.
User-friendly, consumer based guides/brochures
It was noted that the user friendly resources, such as the appeals and review flowchart made by DARU is very useful and more should be created. Some of the things suggested are
- A guide for mainstream professionals- such as doctors- with instructions on what to include and what not to include on writing a report for an NDIS application.
- A guide to “what is good practice” and being able to give examples of where things have been done really well
It was noted that Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) has some resources that simplify the NDIS for young people that could be used too.
Group Training and Networking Opportunities
Advocates noted that sharing of experiences was useful for them via networking and case studies. It was also noted that the recent training on how to do a review that was organised by Rights Information and Advocacy Centre (RIAC) was also really helpful. Advocates found the DARU Advocacy Sector Conversations were useful, relevant and shouldn’t be changed. Some suggestions included:
- Taking a wonderful story about human rights in to the community: The goal post might change for the NDIS but the right to inclusion and to live an extraordinary life, not necessarily an ordinary life, is your right.
- Cross sharing information from other groups about the NDIS and what other groups are doing. For example, there is a regular meeting held by the DHS, and perhaps DARU can distribute information from this
- Set up a mentoring program with experienced advocates guiding new advocates.