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Advocacy groups struggle amid growing NDIS waiting lists

20 March 2019 at 11:46 am
Luke Michael
Advocacy services are being swamped with people needing help appealing their National Disability Insurance Scheme plans, disability groups have warned in the wake of new funding to the sector.    

Luke Michael | 20 March 2019 at 11:46 am


Advocacy groups struggle amid growing NDIS waiting lists
20 March 2019 at 11:46 am

Advocacy services are being swamped with people needing help appealing their National Disability Insurance Scheme plans, disability groups have warned in the wake of new funding to the sector.      

The federal government on Tuesday announced a $5.3 million funding boost for NDIS appeals providers, who help people with disability challenge plan decisions in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).  

Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher said the government was now providing more than $10 million to over 40 NDIS appeals advocacy agencies across all states and territories.

“While the focus of NDIS appeals is advocacy support, funding for legal services is available for cases with complex legal issues, or where the applicant does not have the capacity to self-represent,” Fletcher said.  

Disability Advocacy Network Australia thanked the government for recognising the increased demand for support around NDIS plan reviews, but warned that more advocacy funding was needed to help people deal with all parts of the scheme.

DANA CEO Mary Mallett said there was a growing waiting list at advocacy organisations across Australia as more and more people received an NDIS plan that didn’t meet their needs.

She told Pro Bono News advocacy organisations would “continue to advocate for a system that worked with people with disability and not against them”.

Ross Joyce, CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), said any funding supporting disability advocacy was welcome.

But he said a major problem not addressed by the announcement was that many advocacy groups were so under resourced that they could not take on new clients.

“I spoke to someone yesterday whose advocacy organisation stopped taking on new clients because they were at capacity back in September last year,” Joyce told Pro Bono News.

“This funding should help to alleviate this to some extent. But I think there needs to be a serious look at the overall funding level that’s provided through the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP).”

Joyce also noted this funding would only support advocacy groups to help people with NDIS planning appeals, despite a 77 per cent increase in Disability Support Pension appeals.

This concerned Joyce, who pointed to recent AFDO-commissioned research from Melbourne University that showed the majority of AAT appeals – which can last six to eight months – ended with the applicant being awarded the DSP.

“The advocacy funding is too narrow. They need more funding in general so they can support DSP appeals and other matters,” he said.

“All of the advocacy agencies are doing a brilliant job but they can only do so much with the resources that they’re provided.”

The government also pledged $1.2 million for the NDAP Decision Support Pilot, which offers help to NDIS participants who have limited decision-making capacity and a lack of family support.

This will extend the pilot to 30 June 2020 and is expected to benefit another 300 to 400 people with disability.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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  • Samantha says:

    For many advocacy organisations this is a technical increase in funding that means agencies already funded to do NDIS Appeals support will continue at the same level of funding after June rather than that funding being halved, which was what was originally planned. This is good news, but is unlikely to change our capacity to do any more than we currently are.

  • John Homan says:

    The overload of Advocacy services is a symptom of the failure of the NDIS.
    The PC11 design was based on the WA system of Local Area Coordination and the British ‘inControl’ system of direct funding. Both are grounded in a culture of equal, credible and trusting relationships, where the Local Area Coordinator is the co-driver with the person to assist him to avoid potholes and bumps in the road and help him to reach his potential, and a good, inclusive life.
    The NDIS as implemented, concentrates all power in Geelong, is hierarchical. controlling and features inequality as its principal design feature. Trust has been replaced by fear and paranoia, and many layers of bureaucracy have been introduced to protect the organisation, at the cost of good outcomes for participants.
    The NDIS needs a total rebuild with ‘responsible autonomy’ as its governance model. My 4th submission to the PC11 explains what I have in mind (web link )below
    John Homan

  • TRISH says:

    NDIS is certainly not a fill in for volunteers. The extensive list of people waiting for the services is the sole fault of Govt. for not funding qualified personnel with a social science degree, to handle the waiting list. Aged & disabled expected to be serviced in a timely manner, not placed on a waiting list. Govt would be foolish to only hire people with a business background, as they lack sensitivity for the needs of a disabled person, who may lack an understanding of what NDIS is concerned with. Funding to overseas Orgs must be reviewed & scrutinize, not handed out without public knowledge

  • Tvitin says:

    Hope one day the world will take a serious look at your criminal organization and the damage done against NSW victims of crime with a disability. People can’t wait for that day.

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