The agency in charge of the NDIS has defended controversial changes to how participants are assessed for funding, after one of the scheme's architects said the move would "blow up" the scheme.
Inaugural National Disability Insurance Agency chairman Bruce Bonyhady on Friday launched an extraordinary attack on the planned introduction of mandatory independent assessments, saying it was a "disgrace" that what he described as "robo-planning" was still being pursued.
Professor Bonyhady, who also chaired the panel which advised the Productivity Commission's work to design the scheme, pointed out flaws in the model put forward, including the use of the same set of tests for participants regardless of their disability.
He was alarmed participants would not be able to directly appeal the result of their independent assessments in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, fearing that without external oversight the agency would be able to cut budgets and exclude people from the scheme.
"All Australians should be gravely concerned about robo-planning because it will tear up the social contract at the heart of the NDIS," he told a parliamentary inquiry.
Professor Bonyhady was one of a number of witnesses to appear before the inquiry, which has received dozens of written submissions from disability groups, participants' families and medical professionals flagging problems with the proposed new regime.
The National Disability Insurance Agency reacted to the evidence from Friday's hearing by issuing a lengthy statement in defence of the plan.
The statement will reinforce the belief that although new NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds has paused the permanent rollout of the new system, the government remains firmly committed to the reforms.
Without naming Professor Bonyhady or any of the other witnesses, the NDIA said that while it welcomed discussion on proposed changes it was important that "misinformation or direct statements were addressed".
The agency said the current system of relying on people to provide their own assessments meant that those with the means to pay for and access their own reports received, on average, more funding for their plans.
The agency said there were no plans to cap individual plans or change the eligibility criteria for participants.
The statement said that participants would still have the right to seek reviews of NDIS access and planning decisions - although it didn't mention that results of independent assessments wouldn't be able to be appealed.
It also defended the use of common tests for all participants, saying that it sought feedback from academics, allied health professionals and the disability community and examined more than 100 assessment tools before it settled on its preferred approach.
The agency said it would continue to seek feedback through an ongoing trial of the new system.
"We want to get it right. We must get it right," it said in the statement.
The agency said it would publish a more detailed response to Friday's hearings early this week.
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