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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Anna Falkenmire

Families, carers, participants speak up as NDIS review heads to Newcastle

NDIS review co-chair Bruce Bonyhady talking in Newcastle. Picture by Simone de Peak
Dave Belcher asked a question about the budget system. Picture by Simone de Peak
NDIA chairman Kurt Fearnley was in the audience at the NDIS review in Newcastle. Picture by Simone de Peak
Panel members Kirsten Deane and Professor Bruce Bonyhady. Picture by Simone de Peak
The panel included stakeholders dialling in virtually. Picture by Simone de Peak

PEOPLE in Newcastle living with a disability or caring for someone who does have been given a chance to question the panel looking into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Dozens of community members gathered at the NEX in Newcastle on Tuesday morning when those heading up the review visited to talk through what they had found and what the next steps were.

Co-chair Professor Bruce Bonyhady told the crowd, including some who had dialled in online, that the NDIS had made a big difference in the past decade for hundreds of thousands of people, but needed to evolve.

He said that since he was asked to be part of the review, he had asked "where is the NDIS going, are we happy with its direction, or do we need to change?" hundreds of times.

"Real change is necessary because based on what you have told us, the NDIS is not working for everyone," he said.

"I realise that this statement will raise hopes and fears."

He said the review had found that while the NDIS was a policy miracle, it was also flawed.

"It's too inequitable, over-delivering for some, under-delivering for many, and not delivering at all to the majority of Australians with disability," he said.

The review is considering two major recommendations, including abolishing a "tiered" system of support based on need, and creating a single overall system for everyone living with a disability.

He said the second was more clarity, transparency and fairness about what is meant by "reasonable and necessary support".

The review was launched in October last year.

Professor Bonyhady, with NDIS review co-chair and host of the Newcastle event Lisa Paul, discussed the challenged raised in the recent 'What we heard' report and the changes needed to build a better NDIS.

Newcastle Paralympian and National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) board chair Kurt Fearnley was at the event.

Locals had a chance to ask questions about changes, including how the budgeting process would work and how a reformed NDIS would better help children thrive.

The review panel has been travelling across the country, and Professor Bonyhady said that stopping in Newcastle was no coincidence, as the Hunter was one of the first trial areas for the NDIS system 10 years ago.

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