‘They see it as a threat’: People with disability warned not to challenge NDIS decisions
8 October 2019 at 4:34 pm
People with disability are afraid to challenge problems in their National Disability Insurance Scheme funding plans because they have been told they risk having other services cut if they do so, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.
Every Australian Counts campaign director Kirsten Deane said on Tuesday people with disability were “incredibly frustrated” by the slow pace of change within the NDIS, which meant people were still waiting months to get into the scheme and receive services.
Deane told a parliamentary hearing in Brisbane that people had been told by their planners or Local Area Coordinators that if they asked for a review to challenge an NDIS decision, it would put their whole plan up for review and could lead to other services being cut.
“They see it as a threat,” Deane said.
She told Pro Bono News that this “unconscionable” threat was indeed real, with people coming forward to reveal they had undergone a review for one decision only to see other parts of their plan cut.
She said people wanted the ability to make small changes to their plans without it triggering a full-blown review.
“The whole review process makes people incredibly anxious,” she said.
“There is also a major backlog of reviews, which means people are waiting anywhere between six to nine months, and sometimes even 12 months, just to be heard.”
“If you put in for a review you might have other areas of the plan cut, and people find that unconscionable”
EAC Campaign Director Kirsten Deane at the Joint Standing Committee on #NDIS Planning #NDISMakeItWork
— Every Australian Counts (@EveryAustralian) October 7, 2019
Every Australian Counts’ submission to the inquiry noted that this backlog put people with disability in a difficult decision.
“If you are seeking a review because you do not believe you have sufficient support what should you do? Spend your funds as you believe you need them and risk running out before your review is resolved?” the submission said.
“Or eek them out slowly and risk that being taken as evidence that you do not require the support? [They’re caught between the] devil and the deep blue sea.”
Deane also told the hearing that people with disability were furious at the federal government’s $4.6 billion NDIS underspend, considering the implementation problems that continued to plague the scheme.
She said she was aware of people waiting two years for a wheelchair, and six years for home modifications.
She also said she heard about a young child who died while waiting for support.
“We don’t find anything to celebrate in the underspend. In fact, quite the contrary,” she said.
“We feel that there was a real wave of anger that swept through people with disability and their families when the announcement about the underspent was made. Because that money belongs to people with disabilities.”