Changes are coming to the NDIS, but why are they controversial?

Bill Shorten introduced the new NDIS legislation on Wednesday, despite state premiers raising concern.

Bill Shorten introduced the new NDIS legislation on Wednesday, despite state premiers raising concern. Photo: AAP

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is about to undergo significant reform, but opposition in government and state premiers have raised concerns about the changes.

The bill is updating legislation to pave the way for recommendations from the Royal Commission into the NDIS.

It will allow participants to have plans within the disability scheme that are longer than five years, create a definition for ‘NDIS support’, and allow agencies to take over accounts if there is a “financial risk factor” such as fraud or financial abuse.

What isn’t being introduced is the full list of 26 recommendations of the Royal Commission, which included changing the way Australians access the scheme, creating requirements for all NDIS support providers to be registered and regulated, and creating more flexibility for participants to choose their living arrangements.

The minister

Minister for the NDIS Bill Shorten said the reforms won’t happen overnight.

“Review recommendations will take years to implement. Today is the next step in the journey,” he said.

“There will be a significant piece of work to collaborate with people with disability on the reforms and we are seeking the lived experience of the disability community as we continue to strengthen the scheme together.”

State stoush

Earlier in the week, state leaders called for the federal government to delay or change the legislation because of the cost and responsibility burden placed upon the states under the new deal.

“Foundational” support for people with disabilities would be set up in schools and childcare centres for those not accessing the NDIS, which resulted in the backlash.

“If, at the end of the day, the Commonwealth charges full steam ahead, a lot of people will be off the NDIS programs and they will be tumbled into state services,” New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said.

“I want to make sure that we catch them, and we can only do that if we can quantify how much this will ultimately cost.”

NSW chris minns

NSW Premier Chris Minns criticised the proposal because the total cost for the states has not been clarified. Photo: AAP

Despite this push, Shorten introduced the bill to federal Parliament on Wednesday.


The Coalition said it will work constructively with the government, but raised concern over the inability to convince Labor premiers on the changes.

Michael Sukkar, shadow minister for the NDIS, said the legislation has left many questions unanswered.

“This bill, although participant focused, fails to address provider fraud and price gouging, which are two major issues contributing to cost blowout within the scheme,” he said.

“If the legislation passes, it will take 12 to 18 months for the measures to become operational.”

Senator Jordon Steele-John, Greens spokesperson for disability rights and services, said the NDIS legislation had been done behind closed doors with disability advocates made to sign non-disclosure agreements.

“The question on my mind is, why has the Labor government prepared NDIS legislation behind closed doors? What have they got to hide?” he asked.

“No disabled person should be pushed by abled-bodied politicians from the NDIS into the vast gaping hole that is non-NDIS disability supports in this country.”

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