Submission to the NDIS Review from Public Advocates and Public Guardians

In March 2023, Australia’s Public Advocates and Public Guardians made a submission to the NDIS Review which was supported by the Victorian Public Advocate, Colleen Pearce.

The submission was led by the Queensland Public Advocate. Visit the Queensland Public Advocate website to view the submission.

The submission encourages the NDIS Review to consider key NDIS improvement imperatives and possibilities in the areas of:

  • better supporting individuals to make their own access and service decisions
  • better recognising informal caring and support relationships (where these do not give rise to genuine concerns about the well-being of the participant or prospective participant)
  • simplifying and streamlining administrative technicalities that can result in unnecessary guardianship applications
  • improved escalation pathways for people with complex support needs
  • improved NDIS safeguarding mechanisms
  • improved interfaces with other systems.

It notes that:

[T]he development of the NDIS has resulted in a curious, but predicted, effect on the adult guardianship system. In short, the advent of the NDIS has resulted in significantly increased use of the adult guardianship system. This is curious because consumer (not substitute decision maker) ‘choice and control’ is a bedrock principle of the scheme. But the scheme’s effect on adult guardianship was predicted by many of us because the scheme results in a greater number of decisions needing to be made by the many NDIS participants and prospective participants who have impaired decision-making ability. For a variety of reasons, this has resulted in increased numbers of applications for, and appointments of, substitute decision-makers.

While there are situations in which adult guardianship is an appropriate safeguarding action for an NDIS participant or prospective participant, oftentimes the adult guardianship system has been used for what we would term ‘instrumental’ NDIS reasons. Such situations do not see the adult guardianship system performing its intended role. 

Among its recommendations in relation to safeguards, the submisson recommends the Australian Government urgently remove information sharing barriers that currently prevent the NDIA and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission from sharing relevant information with community visitor schemes.