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An Open Letter to the Minister for the NDIS, Senator Linda Reynolds CSC

Roland penned a letter conveying the frustrations and hopes of many in the sector as a new NDIS Minister takes the helm.

By Roland Naufal

Updated 15 Apr 202419 Apr 2021

Dear Minister Reynolds

NDIS at the Crossroads

Welcome to your new role leading the NDIS, a portfolio with one of the largest and most engaged constituencies in Australia. I am Managing Director of DSC and have over 30 years experience in the disability sector. I write to highlight the urgent need for you to work to rebuild the sector's trust in your government’s agenda for the NDIS and redevelop the sense of unity that previously underpinned the scheme’s development.

The NDIS is the outcome of well over 100,000 Australians from all sides of politics, uniting to demand change through the work of Every Australian Counts. Until recently, it has enjoyed unparalleled bipartisan support in its implementation. Unfortunately, your predecessor Stuart Robert was a divisive leader who seriously undermined the sector’s trust in your government and the scheme’s standing in the broader community.

Minister Robert sought to position the scheme as a welfare funding problem, not as the insurance scheme for all Australians it was designed to be. He took a patriarchal approach and unfairly politicised disability issues to gain short term advantage. While some difficult decisions need to be made to ensure scheme sustainability, Minister Robert did not engage the people whose lives the NDIS impacts most. I believe he seriously underestimated the intelligence and commitment of the disability sector. 

 You have inherited a disability sector that is now fearful of change and distrustful of this government. If you create an open opportunity for people to give you feedback, the damage Minister Robert has done will be reported to you again and again as you settle into your new role.

The scheme is now at a crossroads in its development. We need you to put an end to the paternalism, stop the sham public consultation processes and rebuild trust. We desperately need leadership from you that:

  • implements the NDIS as an insurance scheme, not a DSS welfare program
  • enables people with disability to be the agents of their own lives
  • fosters a transparent culture of co-design at the NDIA
  • re-commits to a national agenda of mainstream inclusion

You are now the leader of what has been accurately described as a once in a generation social and economic reform. This is a very real opportunity for you to shape a very significant personal and Australian legacy. Your leadership will directly impact the lives of well over a million people; NDIS participants, their families and friends. 

We are all watching, waiting to see how you will lead. 

I wish you very great success.

Sincerely

Roland Naufal

Authors

Roland Naufal

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