Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) sent a Freedom of Information request to the NDIA on 17/2/2020. See below for A4's request.
On the 26/3/2020, the NDIA, despite the original letter from Ms Faulkner informing A4 of the NDIS's "review to consider and identify enhancements to the ECEI tailored pathway", notified A4 "that the relevant area of the NDIA is unsure what specific review is referred to in your request". They say "We understand the difficulty in articulating what specific documents you seek access" (see the email thread below up to 22/5/2020).
A4 is deeply puzzled as to why Ms Faulkner would tell A4 that the NDIA is conducting a review but the NDIA is unsure what review she had referred to. A review to address "issues raised by the Joint Standing Committee on the ECEI approach" seems to A4 to be a significant review; such a review should be relatively easy to identify even if Ms Faulkner was too vague when she told A4 about the review. Nor is A4 aware that it is A4's role in such circumstances to identify specific documents for the NDIA's FoI team. We cannot conceive of how we would do this without any access to the NDIA's records. We regard that task as the role of the FoI team.
The NDIA sent their response on 24/6/2020. In their email, they said " we apologise for our delayed response". Their decision letter also says "I apologise for the delay in responding".
The FoI team provided just one document (see list in Attachment A to the Notice of Decision below) called the "Project Review and Closure Report". Apparently, this "project" lacked completely most of the things normally associated with a properly-conducted review, such as:
- planning, preparation, funding/resource/personnel/responsibility allocation
- an administrative approval process to sign off on the review plan
- risk assessment
- stakeholder engagement
- communication strategies or processes
- data collection or analysis
If any of this happened, the NDIA is determined to keep it secret.
The outcome of the review, described in the "Project Review and Closure Report" which can be found in the Decision - Document PDF below, is deeply disappointing. Apparently the whole review is summed up in one short document that completely misses the mark.
The report says:
This project was established to deliver on key recommendations:
1. Regional specialised engagement resources to be appointed to support the ECEI approach at a local level. This role will have a direct working relationship with the ECEI National Team and would target the early childhood mainstream interfaces at a local level.
2. Clear and efficient pathways for children with profound disability to ensure timely access to funded support through the establishment of a robust initial response resource (referenced as the Prioritisation Framework within the Detailed Tailored Pathways, May 2018).
3. Development of a Communication & Engagement Framework for implementation across the early childhood sector (inclusive of enhanced tools and materials that are culturally appropriate) to support the knowledge and understanding of the ECEI approach. This includes the development of clear messages that are accessible to families of all cultures to support understanding of how to access an Early Childhood Partner and what to expect.
The document lists a number of deliverables, none of which are provided in the NDIA's FoI response. Yet the "Reason for Closing the Project" section says "Project has been delivered in accordance with the business case, delivery schedule and project management plan".
The "Summary of Recommendations" says simply "It is recommended the project close and the delivered risk be owned by the ECS branch".
The "Lessons Learnt" section (page 12) of the report is a sight to behold.
It is unclear what if anything this review changes about the NDIA's ECEI pathway. Nor does it give the existing pathway a "tick of approval". At best, there seems to have been some sort of attempt to encourage ECEI Partners to speed up processing of Applicants. But how what was actually done is not clear and there is no clear indication of what was achieved.
Externally, the autism community could not discern any change resulting from this "project".
Interestingly, significant improvements (reduced waiting times) were reported subsequently but only after the Minister took a personal interest: see https://www.ndis.gov.au/news/4387-delive...
Hopefully, the joint Standing Committee does not regard this project as a sufficient attempt to consider and address the issue it raised in relation to the NDIA's ECEI pathway.
Legal Services Branch
Governance, Legal & Compensation
National Disability Insurance Agency
Dear FOI Team
On 22/2/2018, Ms Faulkner wrote to A4 (see EC18-000445) saying:
As you may be aware, the NDIA is currently undertaking a review to consider and identify enhancements to the ECEI tailored pathway. The outcome of the review will also consider and address issues raised by the Joint Standing Committee on the ECEI approach.
A4 was not aware of the review until we received this letter.
A4 hereby requests, under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, all information relating to:
- the terms of reference and/or purpose of this "review to consider and identify enhancements to the ECEI tailored pathway",
- the conduct and process of this review,
- communicating outcomes of this review a) to NDIA staff, b) government, and c) the community,
- policy, plans and funding to implement the "outcome of the review", and
- monitoring, measurement, analysis and reporting of "enhancements to the ECEI tailored pathway" resulting from this review.
Please provide your response in electronic form; A4 does not want a paper copy.
If you would like clarification of anything in this request or to discuss any matter relating to it, do not hesitate to contact me by email or on 04xx xxx xxx.
Convenor, Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4)
A4 is the national grassroots organisation advocating for autistic people, their families, carers and associates. A4 is internet based so that Australians anywhere can participate in and contribute to A4's advocacy.
Politicians and bureaucrats are subject to A4's policy on unanswered questions: see http://a4.org.au/node/1419.
“The first step in solving any problem is recognising there is one.” Jeff Daniels as Will McEvoy in The Newsroom.