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The BIG Review into the NDIS

Exploring what we know so far about the massive review into the NDIS that was announced earlier this week.

By Sara Gingold

Updated 15 Apr 202421 Oct 2022
PR group shot of The Independent Review Panel comprises of Co-Chairs Professor Bruce Bonyhady AM and Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM and Panel Members Mr Kevin Cocks AM, Ms Judy Brewer AO, Dr Stephen King, Mr Dougie Herd and Ms Kirsten Deane OAM with Minister Bill Shorten

On 18th October, NDIS Minister Bill Shorten announced the much anticipated review into the NDIS. This review was scheduled to happen next year, exactly 10 years after the NDIS was signed into law. However, Labor promised at the election to bring it forward a year because, as we all know, our dear old Scheme has its … issues.

There have been a number of reviews into the NDIS over the last few years, but Shorten pointedly promised that this would be the “the review of reviews”. In keeping with that commitment, the terms of reference are certainly comprehensive.

Tuesday’s press released was titled “NDIS 2.0: A new hope”. So, I guess the other thing we’ve learned recently is that there are a few Star Wars fans in the government. Let’s look now at who our Luke Skywalkers will be and the details of their mission.

Who is leading the review?

Shorten announced an independent review panel to lead the review. I’ve resisted the considerable temptation to assign each of them a Star Wars character, because that seems like prime grounds for defamation.

 The panel will be co-chaired by:

  • Professor Bruce Bonyhady AM – Bruce was inaugural chair of the NDIA Board and is now the director of the Melbourne Disability Institute.
  • Lisa Paul AO PSM – Lisa is a former public servant and has served as secretary of various federal government departments.

Panel members include:

  • Judith Brewer AO – Judith was the inaugural chair of Autism CRC and has also worked in academia, government, and management.
  • Kevin Cocks AM – Kevin was formerly Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Queensland and is the current General Manager of the Accessible Transport Network.
  • Kirsten Deane OAM – Kirsten was the campaign director at Every Australian Counts during the campaign for the NDIS and is now the General Manager of the Melbourne Disability Institute.
  • Dr Dougie Herd – Dougie is the Executive Director of Community Connections for Inclusion and My Choice My Support. He has an excellent Scottish accent.
  • Dr Stephen King – Stephen is the current Commissioner for the Productivity Commission.

What will the review look at?

As noted above, the terms of reference of the review are quite expansive. They are divided into two parts:

  • Part 1 – will look at the design, operations, and sustainability of the NDIS.
  • Part 2 – will explore building a responsive, supportive, and sustainable market and workforce.


Objectives of part 1

The objectives of part 1 are for the panel to make findings and recommendations on :

  • The participant experience, the cost of engaging with the Scheme, and rebuilding trust. Including by looking at:
    • The user journey
    • Improving the evidence based understanding and use of services covered in a plan
    • Making timely and improved decisions on home modifications, assistive technology, and accommodation
    • Ensuring people are informed and supported as the remaining in-kind services are transitioned into the NDIS
  • Putting people with disability back at the centre of the Scheme
  • The effectiveness and sustainability of the NDIS, including looking at employment, lifetime outcomes, and the broader benefits of the Scheme. They will consider
    • The effectiveness of ILCs, LACs, community connectors and early intervention
    • How to measure the effectiveness of the NDIS and whether the outcomes framework is a suitable measure
    • The financial sustainability of the Scheme
  • Delivering better values and outcomes for both participants and government. This will include looking at capacity building supports and the use of assistive technology
  • Scheme governance, including NDIA and Quality and Safeguards Commission operations and costs. The panel will also look at how these agencies interact with one another and DSS.
  • Improving the interactions between the NDIS and other parts of government
  • The impact on services and supports for people with disability outside the NDIS
  • Financial risks, cost pressures, and how to respond to them

Objectives of part 2

The objectives of part 2 of the review are to make findings and recommendations on:

  • How to foster and steward an effective, innovative, and sustainable market
  • Improving the pricing and payment system
  • Improving access to supports in thin markets
  • Attracting, building, and retaining a capable workforce
  • Ensuring a supply of disability accommodation and supports
  • Improving consumer information on supports, including looking at the role of intermediaries (like support coordinators and plan managers) in helping people find supports
  • Ensuring the Quality and Safeguarding Framework is leading to quality services, addressing conflicts of interest, and protecting participants
  • Improving the effectiveness of price setting and regulation
  • Better monitoring, compliance, reporting and response to breaches and unscrupulous behaviour


The review intends to co-design solutions and consult widely with people with disability, their family members, carers, disability representative organisations, providers, workers, and the broader Australian community.

 The consultation process has not yet opened, but you can subscribe here to stay informed.


The panel is due to hand down its report to the disability ministers in October 2023, including a plan to implement any recommended reforms. Given the scale of the task, that is a pretty speedy turnaround!

According to the website, the overarching aim of the review will be to

Put people with disability back at the centre of the NDIS, restoring, trust, confidence and pride in the NDIS amongst them and their families and carers as well as the broader Australian community, while ensuring the sustainability of the scheme so that future generations receive the benefit of the NDIS.

It’s a worthwhile and important objective, and one that we should all play an active part in helping the panel achieve. You can learn more about the review and how to get involved on the website.


Sara Gingold

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