NDIA ‘Concerned’ About Record Level of Complaints
29 May 2018 at 4:46 pm
The National Disability Insurance Agency has admitted it is “concerned” about the record level of complaints it is receiving, after new figures revealed the agency received more than 4,000 complaints in the past three months.
The NDIA released its latest quarterly report on Tuesday, which noted that 162,223 Australians were now accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme, including 44,945 people who had not previously received government support.
But the report also revealed the NDIA has received 4,146 complaints in the latest quarter, the highest number of complaints recorded for a single quarter and well above the 3,880 complaints received last quarter.
The NDIA admitted it was “concerned” by the latest figures.
“The NDIA is concerned about the level of complaints it has received. The challenges experienced in implementing the scheme are recognised and work is proceeding on the participant and provider pathway review to address the issues that underlie the complaints,” the report said.
“In addition, the NDIA’s complaints management approach is under review.”
Highlights from report include: Of the 162,223 Australians now benefiting from the #NDIS 44,945 had not received State, Territory or Commonwealth support prior to entering the Scheme. and 72% of participants over 25 report the NDIS had helped then with daily living activities. https://t.co/iJhqtmAtK0
— Ross Joyce (@AFDO_CEO) May 28, 2018
In total, 6.2 per cent of all people who have sought access to the NDIS made a complaint during the quarter, and 3,689 of the 4,146 complaints were about the NDIA itself.
Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia, Therese Sands, told Pro Bono News she was not surprised by the latest findings.
“People with disability are reporting to us that they are frustrated with plans that aren’t right, delays in getting reviews and with the NDIA getting the basics wrong,” Sands said.
“We are also really concerned about the increasingly bureaucratic nature of the NDIS, and how difficult people with disability are finding it to get small errors fixed.
“People with disability want the NDIS to support them in living an ordinary life, not to put up more barriers to participation in the community. The NDIA needs to listen to people with disability and put our needs first.”
These latest figures come on the back of a recent Commonwealth ombudsman report, which noted that since mid-2016, 32 per cent of all NDIA complaints to the ombudsman related to the agency’s review process, particularly around delays.
Sands said while she was pleased the NDIA had committed to a participant and provider pathway review, the agency needed to do more to address these systemic issues.
“We welcome the NDIA recognising that they need to improve, but we think they need to go much further than this review,” she said.
“People with disability need to be able to look at and change their plans before they are implemented, instead of being forced to go straight to a full review.
“We also need the NDIA’s communications to be much more focused on the needs of people with disability, with consistent contact points and making information available in easy english for example.”
Labor’s shadow social services minister, Jenny Macklin, said the rise in NDIS complaints highlighted a need for the NDIA staffing cap to be removed immediately.
“The Turnbull government must lift the staffing cap on the NDIA,” Macklin said.
“It’s clear that the agency doesn’t have enough staff to rollout the scheme on time [and] if we are going to sort out the problems with poor-quality NDIS plans the staffing cap on the NDIA needs to be lifted.”
Despite the concerns raised, the latest figures also showed the number of Australians with an approved NDIS plan had grown by 61,344 people in the last nine months – a 68 per cent increase.
The NDIS market has grown by 64 per cent in the same period, with 14,271 service providers now approved to deliver disability supports.
45,000 Australians with disability getting support for the first time under the NDIS.
New figures released today, show that more than one quarter of the 160,000 Australians now benefiting from the NDIS are receiving support for the first time. https://t.co/YTBdfjm3SN pic.twitter.com/9dAsr3JVwu
— NDIS (@NDIS) May 28, 2018
NDIA CEO Robert De Luca said this showed the NDIS was tracking well.
“These figures show that under the NDIS, more and more Australians with disability are receiving better and more effective support and assistance than ever have before,” De Luca said.
A participants survey by the NDIA also showed that 90 per cent of parents or carers of children aged under six years reported that the NDIS had helped with their child’s development and access to school services.
Added to this, 72 per cent of participants aged 25 and over reported that the scheme had helped them with their daily living activities.
De Luca said these results were testament to the beneficial nature of the scheme.
“These strong outcomes demonstrate the NDIS is already delivering on its goals to increase Australians with [disabilities’] independence and participation in the community,” he said.
Sands said she was pleased that more people were accessing the NDIS, but lamented that the NDIA was not being adequately resourced.
“We’re pleased to see that more people with disability, who’ve never received the support they need, are starting to come into the NDIS,” she said.
“[But] people with disability are also frustrated and concerned that money is being spent on outsourcing work to for-profit consultants and businesses, instead of resourcing the agency to deliver an NDIS that provides genuine choice and control.
“We want to see the NDIA with enough resources to be able to implement the NDIS in a way that works for people with disability.”