Skip to main content

Early childhood workshop

The Review panel is focussed on hearing directly from people with disability and from their families about solutions for making a better NDIS. Early childhood and the transition through to school is the start of many participants NDIS journey. On Tuesday 21 March we held a workshop focussed on this.

This workshop is very important to the review because it’s the early childhood years in which many people with disability enter the scheme. So getting the early years right is critical to the Review and the NDIA.

—Bruce Bonyhady, Co-Chair NDIS Review

 We brought together families of young children, people with disability, disability organisations representing both people with disability and carers, researchers and independent experts to inform priorities and identify solutions.

Today was an opportunity for the Review Panel to hear directly from people with disability from their families about early childhood and the NDIS.

—Bruce Bonyhady, Co-Chair NDIS Review

The objectives of the workshop were for the review to understand:

  • the priorities for NDIS reform,
  • provide feedback on engagement to date,
  • identify possible early improvements,
  • test feasibility of different options, and
  • discuss key changes to improve outcomes for children and families.

The outcomes sought through the workshop were:

  • clarity on the role of the NDIS and other systems in early childhood,
  • practical steps to move from the current to future state,
  • how solutions should be designed in collaboration with key stakeholders, especially families, and
  • defining further evidence/information for the Review to collect.

The day was broken up into discussions including the entire group and smaller groups to ensure everyone’s voice was heard. People shared their experiences of the NDIS and early childhood and put forward a future state that would ensure that a child’s experience in the scheme is better.

We heard from parents about their day to day lives. They told us how the NDIS helps, where it could do more and solutions for the future of the NDIS.

The key themes that emerged from the Workshop were:

  • The NDIS needs to be substantially redesigned for children and families, including ensuring equitable access and culturally safe design for First Nations, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and other equity groups.
  • There needs to be supported journeys for families and children
  • There needs to be targeted efforts to support and empower families, so children can thrive
  • The NDIS and mainstream services should drive inclusive childhoods, in which children with disability are welcomed by their local communities
  • Families and children should experience seamless and borderless systems across different types of service systems both within and outside the NDIS, including especially health, early childhood services and education
  • All children and families need to experience best practice early childhood support
  • The Australian Government and States and Territories needs to embed strong governance and accountability for child outcomes, so that every child with a disability has the opportunity to reach their potential.

Today was a powerful day in that families and professionals and academics came from all around Australia with different experiences of the NDIS and it was important to day because it was an opportunity for the Review Panel to hear the voice of parents and young children and older youth with disabilities and this voice has not often been heard.

—Kevin Cocks, Panel Member

The Review will continue to engage directly with children and their families and carers to better understand their experiences and hear their ideas and solutions for a better NDIS. The Review will bring together all the feedback we hear over the next few months with a view to reimagining what the NDIS should look like in the future for young children and their families.

There was an amazing amount of agreement on the future vision. For example we talked about how disempowered families felt and how they felt all their agency as a family, as a parent was stripped away. And what was clear was how they wanted that to change.

What we need to know now is what we need to do differently. How can we empower families? How can we empower parents to take charge and help their children live the life that they want to live?

—Kirsten Deane, Panel Member

If you would like to have your say on early childhood or any issues effecting the NDIS share your experiences, ideas and solutions through the have your say page on our website.