Redesigning the NDIS

The NDIS needs radical transformation into a sustainable and regenerative system of support.

Published by Citizen Network Research, Redesigning the NDIS was launched on 29th August in Melbourne. The report is co-authored by Dr Simon Duffy of Citizen Network and Dr Mark Brown of the Summer Foundation and it explains why the current design of the NDIS is unsustainable and offers a regenerative vision for its reform. 

In the Foreword, Jeff Smith CEO of Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA), who commissioned the report, said:

“In this thoughtful and provocative report Redesigning the NDIS, Simon Duffy and Mark Brown make a clarion call for urgent and radical reform of the NDIS. This in itself is not new, of course - in recent months, many commentators and analysts have made a similar call. However, what sets this report apart are the foundations on which the call for urgent reform is set. 

“First, the report is premised on the idea that people with disability should be co-creators in the next iteration (and iterations) of the NDIS, developing solutions and promoting innovation and new thinking to “put the heart back in the NDIS”. Citizenship, community and inclusion should enliven the next NDIS, placing people with disability at its centre and ensuring its sustainability.

“Second, it is not a manifesto on what needs to be done to the NDIS; nor does it purport to speak for Australians with disabilities or, indeed, all Australians. Rather, the report seeks to encourage debate within the Australian disability sector, while also providing a much needed international perspective on the Australian system. 

“Third, the report sees the purpose of the NDIS as sound, and world-leading. However, design flaws often operate contrary to its purpose, undercutting the sustainability and legitimacy of the scheme from within. 

“Fourth, the report does not play the “blame-game”. Indeed, it sees the perverse outcomes in the current system as being due to the key actors acting rationally in their own interests – this is the tragedy of the commons. 

“Finally, the report is rooted in optimism. It is clear there is much about the NDIS which is good and should be kept and embraced. It also sees the creation of the NDIS as one in which Australians can be proud, leading the world in achieving human rights for people with disability and forged by the unstinting efforts and collaboration of our disability rights movement. Its call for urgent and radical reform emerges from this standpoint.”

Co-author Dr Mark Brown, who is a Senior Research Fellow at the Summer Foundation and a participant in the NDIS said:

“The poor experiences of people using the NDIS and the ever-growing costs of the NDIS are two sides of the same problem: A badly designed system that creates cost inflation and undermines responsible action at every level. What is critical to understand is that this is a system problem. It is not the people who are at fault; the rules of the system create the problem.

“Citizenship, community and inclusion should enliven the next NDIS, putting people with disability back at its centre and ensuring its sustainability. The report is premised on the idea that people with disability should be co-developers of the NDIS. This would see the system working within an overall budget that has been agreed with the disability community. All agreements would be revisable and would be reviewed in the light of available evidence.”

Dr Simon Duffy, Director of Citizen Network Research, President of Citizen Network and one of the founders of the SDS Network said:

“No other country in the world has made the same ambitious commitment to human and disability rights as Australia; but the actual design of the NDIS falls short of global best practice. It is essential that the disability community seizes the opportunity created by the current NDIS Review to address the flaws in the design of the initial version of the NDIS and to create to a regenerative vision for the NDIS. To bring human rights to life we must invest in people and communities and grow a culture of inclusion and citizenship for all.”

You can download a copy of the report below and at:

Note for Editors

10 years ago Dr Simon Duffy, after examining the initial design of the NDIS, wrote a report which predicted many of the problems that the NDIS is now facing and predicted that “the problems created by the current design are so great that it will force the Federal government to redesign the system in a matter of just a few years.” You can read the 2013 report Designing the NDIS at:

The Australian Financial Review covered the report here: and Simon wrote an opinion piece for the report here: