Disability groups have used a face-to-face meeting with new NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds to renew calls for the "flawed" independent assessments plan to be stopped.
Senator Reynolds met with about a dozen representatives from across the sector on Friday, as part of a fresh consultation process initiated by her decision to pause the permanent rollout of a controversial new system for assessing NDIS participants for funding.
The meeting was held as the new minister and her agency's boss Martin Hoffman prepare to front Senate estimates on Monday afternoon, where they will be grilled on the government's plans for the scheme following weeks of damaging headlines.
The hearing will mark Senator Reynolds' return to the political stage, coming more than eight weeks after the then Defence minister took medical leave as pressure mounted over her handling of the Brittany Higgins rape allegations.
At Friday's meeting, a coalition of advocacy groups and peak bodies urged Senator Reynolds to stop all proposed changes to access and planning in the scheme, including the introduction of mandatory independent assessments.
The groups also called on the new minister to commit to five new "terms of engagement", designed to help repair the fractured relationship between the disability community and the government.
They want people with a disability put at the centre of decision-making on the scheme's future, including in senior roles within the agency. Scheme participants, their families and advocates should be brought in to co-design changes, the groups say, while all engagement should be "honest, transparent and respectful".
Mary Sayers, chief executive of Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) and the coalition's spokeswoman, said the sector wanted to "reset the agenda" with the government.
"This is a truly defining moment for minister Linda Reynolds," Ms Sayers said after the meeting.
"It will determine how willing she is to engage in real consultation with us on behalf of over 430,000 people with disability who use the NDIS and their families. The NDIS is a critical piece of Australia's social infrastructure, like Medicare."
Ms Sayers said the "flawed and widely criticised" independent assessment proposal was an example of policy developed without consultation with the disability community.
"We are deeply concerned that this is a giant leap backwards with processes in place that are unreliable and unethical," she said.
"We are asking for the minister to stop, rebuild trust and respond to our concerns. The time is now."
In a statement to The Canberra Times, Senator Reynolds said the meeting was "very productive".
"This meeting was not just about listening, it was also about identifying issues that need to be addressed in the scheme and starting to find consensus on ways forward to ensure the scheme is enduring," she said.
"There are some challenging and important conversations to be had between all states and territories and the Commonwealth and also between the sector to ensure the NDIS is available and sustainable for many generations to come."
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