Disability Leaders Defend ‘Damning’ NDIS review
24 March 2014 at 10:44 am
Disability sector leaders have rallied behind the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in response to what one has called a “damning” review of the early implementation of the scheme.
According to the review, written by Jeff Whalan, Dr Peter Acton and Dr Jeff Harmer and commissioned by the Board of the NDIS Agency, the biggest impact of the decision to bring forward the start date of the NDIS is that all effort was on getting to the trial phase and insufficient effort was devoted to preparation for the next phases of the rollout for the Scheme.
Every Australian Counts Campaign Director John Della Bosca said he hoped the report was not used by some commentators to argue delaying the NDIS.
“Rolling out the NDIS is a big job, but it’s hardly sending someone to the moon and it should not take a decade to deliver,” Della Bosca said.
“As damning as this report is on the on the Agency, it is nowhere near as damning as the Productivity Commission’s report on the current disability system.
“The starting point for any conversation about the NDIS has to be focussed on the real crisis. People with disability are currently denied access to participate in our community and economy. They are treated as second class citizens. The NDIS aims to address this national injustice.
“Australians want an NDIS that works. We need to take the time to get the NDIS right.
“We must also acknowledge that every delay in rolling out the NDIS means Australians with disability and their families will struggle without the supports they desperately need.”
National peak cross-disability body People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has urged the Australian Government to deliver the NDIS on time while investing the effort needed to get it right.
“The review of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has been likened to ‘a plane that took off before it had been fully built and is being completed while in the air',” PWDA President Craig Wallace said.
“The NDIS isn’t a plane taking off, it’s a progressive rollout. We are already taking until 2018/19 to get fully underway, so you could also liken it to a ship.
“It’s possible to do maintenance and refuel at sea without turning it around or foundering it. We already have launch sites in operation and cannot sail along with parallel service systems for decades.
“Medicare came into operation on 1 February 1984, following the passage in September 1983 of the Health Legislation Amendment Act 1983. That’s around six months, so we know that Australia is equal to the task of delivering a sustainable nation building reform in tight timeframes if we want to.
“I welcome the release of the review and we need to address the issues in it around ICT, staffing, governance and the Geelong move. We can walk and chew gum at the same time and do this in the lead up to rollout to get it right. We need robust oversight and to invest time, skills and resources to make it happen while sticking to the already generous rollout timeframes for the NDIS.”
National Disability Services (NDS) Chief Executive Dr Ken Baker said the purpose of the trial sites is to learn and continually improve the NDIS.
“The NDIS is not just for people in the trial sites; it’s for the 400,000 people who are yet to enter the Scheme and are eagerly awaiting its arrival,” he said.
Dr Baker said while the review could be used to call for a delay to the full implementation of the NDIS, that would be premature.
“The NDIS is eight months into a six-year marathon. We’ve exerted a lot of effort and ingenuity to get this far so quickly; it’s too early to decide that the road ahead is too steep,” he said.
“The review has identified serious problems within the Agency but they are not insurmountable and they should not be allowed to jeopardise the integrity or the delivery of the full Scheme.”