NDIS Failing to Meet Enrolment Targets
14 November 2016 at 1:05 pm
A disability advocacy group and the federal opposition claim the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is failing to meet its enrolment targets despite reporting a high participant satisfaction rate with the scheme.
The latest quarterly report on the NDIS shows the scheme failed to meet its projected target with just 7,440 participants having an approved plan – far fewer than the first target of 20,264 set for the quarter starting 1 July 2016.
The report showed that the NDIS rollout also failed to meet its revised goal of 10,529 new participants.
“There is a huge gap between the number of people approved and the most recent target,” CEO of Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) Mary Mallett told Pro Bono Australia News.
“That number of 7,440 is significantly lower than what we would have expected in the last financial year.
“When they had the original problem with the NDIS IT portal they had an emergency meeting that halved the target down to 10,500 people. So they have only met three-quarters of their original target.
“They say in the report that they will catch up by Christmas. It seems very unlikely that they can catch up to the target [by then].”
“The backlog has an impact because there are many people who are just waiting for the scheme to come in so that they can get the right support – people who have never had support through their state-based disabilities system.
“If they can’t run the scheme efficiently it will make it harder for those people who are, say in South Australia, [trying to get] assistance for children where they are way behind in bringing children in at the right stage.”
Mallett said the NDIS report shows the next target is to assist 250,000 participants by 2019 but the full rollout is expected to be 430,000 participants.
“The scheme just has to work,” she said.
“When or how are they going to get to the 430,000?
“Forty per cent of people got a plan within 60 to 90 days of being made eligible another 25 per cent took more than 90 days so more than three months to get a plan. But they don’t mention the other 35 per cent, so it is not clear whether they were getting a plan or not.
“The problem is there is likely to be an ongoing battle for people to get what they need and it would be a shame if the scheme doesn’t meet that.”
Mallett said DANA was not surprised by the backlog following “significant” IT issues that meant there were several months where the platform wasn’t working.
“It will be hard for them to recover from it and catch up again,” she said.
The shadow minister for families and social services, Jenny Macklin, said the situation was “totally unacceptable”.
“It is clear the rollout of the NDIS is now far behind schedule, because of the serious mismanagement of the rollout of the NDIS,” Macklin said.
“The report also revealed that large numbers of participant plans are taking more than three months to approve.
“The Turnbull government has failed to adequately resource the NDIA – the agency responsible for the rollout of the scheme. In September Christian Porter was slammed by state and territory ministers for failing to resource the NDIA sufficiently.
“They have botched the development of the IT system, resulting in delays to the assessment of participants and significant periods in which providers went unpaid.
“Last month at Senate Estimate it was revealed that live testing of the NDIS IT system could have prevented the widespread problems with the system.”
However NDIA chief executive David Bowen defended the progress of the scheme so far and said by the end of 2016 the number of people in the scheme was expected to almost double to 60,000.
“We are carefully transitioning the biggest social reform in this country since Medicare with new areas and age groups joining the scheme all the time,” Bowen said.
“This is a unique period as we move approximately 430,000 Australians to the NDIS in the next three years.”
Bowen said the transition to the NDIS was the first time there has been a nationally consistent approach for those living with a disability.
“Eighty five per cent of participants with a plan approved in the latest quarter rated
their satisfaction with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the planning process as either good or very good,” he said.
“Australians are rightly proud to be properly assisting those with a disability.”