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Fears NDIS assessment model could re-traumatise domestic violence survivors and put them at risk of harm

A domestic violence prevention group fears the proposed model of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) independent assessments could result in survivors being re-traumatized and placed at “imminent risk of harm”.

In its submission to a parliamentary committee inquiry into independent assessments, Domestic Violence Victoria/Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria said it had significant concerns about how the contentious checks could be carried out.


The assessments, put on hold amid a sector-wide backlash, would see participants outsourced to a single contracted assessor they do not know to determine their eligibility for the NDIS and the level of support they receive.

New NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds has said the assessments are designed to provide people with disabilities with “true choice and control over a flexible support package to achieve their goals”.

But in its submission to the parliamentary committee, the recently-merged DVV/DVRCV said outsourcing assessments to people with little understanding of family violence would cause problems.

“If the assessor does not understand family violence … it may result in family violence and associated risk factors not being identified and the impact of trauma not being recognized and acknowledged during the assessment process,” the submission said.

domestic violence

“If family violence and risk factors are not identified, it could put a victim-survivor at imminent risk of harm and is likely to lead to an inaccurate assessment and plan that does not consider the specific support and safety needs of a victim-survivor.”

DVV/DVRCV also said an assessor’s potential lack of knowledge about family violence might place someone at more risk of violence if they can’t assess whether a carer or family member is the perpetrator.

“The current independent assessment design allows family members or carers to participate in the assessment process,” it said.

“The presence of the perpetrator during the assessment presents a significant risk to a victim-survivor and causes additional challenges as victim-survivors could mask or downplay their needs in the presence of the perpetrator, or their responses to questions may not be indicative of their support needs [resulting] in reinforcing violent and abusive behavior.”

Research shows that people with disabilities, particularly women and girls, experience higher rates of family violence than the general public.

The government and the National Disability Insurance Agency – which runs the NDIS – have repeatedly said independent assessments would make access to the scheme more consistent and transparent. But critics say the move is a cost-cutting exercise that will make it harder for people to access the NDIS, leave existing participants worse off, and force vulnerable people to be assessed by practitioners they don’t know or trust. There is also concern that the model will undermine participants’ choice and control over the support they receive.

“The right to exercise choice and control over decision-making is critically important for victim-survivors of family violence as violence and abuse perpetrated against them take away their power and autonomy,” DVV/DVRCV said in its submission.

The group said survivors might also feel hesitant to share details of trauma with a stranger, and the assessment process could be re-traumatizing.

“If a victim-survivor does disclose experiences of family violence to an assessor and they do not get an appropriate and safe response, it is likely to deter them from seeking help and safety in future as it may result in them not trusting the ‘system’ and feeling anxious to seek support again.”

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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