Challenges to success of the scheme increasing
There is much that is fundamentally flawed with the NDIS and the suppliers and providers of goods and services that the scheme has created that it would be downplaying the seriousness of the situation to look for the good, the silver lining.
There are many signs that the system is broken and seems increasingly not to be meeting the needs of people with disability for whom it was created. Assessment, application, planning, coordination, program development, funding all have serious limitations … and getting worse! But a review of news over just the past three weeks on other aspects of the scheme is simply shocking. Here are some examples.
‘The scumbag scale’: How organised crime has infiltrated the NDIS
Australia’s most senior criminal intelligence official says organised criminals involved in drug trafficking, violence and money laundering are exploiting systemic weaknesses in the National Disability Insurance Scheme to rort it on an unprecedented scale. Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief Michael Phelan estimates that as much as 15 to 20 per cent of the $30 billion it costs a year might be being misused.
Meet the people hurt most by criminals ripping off the NDIS
For seven years, Ken Gray has relied on the NDIS to help manage the challenges of living with Down syndrome. Ken’s funding package paid for carers to take him to the gym and on regular outings in which he was able to develop independence, social skills and make friends. Carers also supported Ken to work three jobs, including stacking shelves at Coles and selling cookies at a local market in Perth.
He was the embodiment of the point made by the NDIS’s fiercest champions: that despite its ballooning cost – the $30 billion program is estimated to grow to $60 billion in 2030 – the NDIS returns an estimated $2.25 in economic activity for every dollar spent on its 500,000 participants.
His father Mark says the scheme was ultimately preparing his son for a future without his parents. “Ken needs to learn to live alone because we are going to die before he does. And everything we’re doing is preparing for that moment.”
But in April last year, this NDIS funded preparation plan was “shattered”. Mark says Ken’s NDIS funding was almost halved without explanation or notice.
Within days, Ken’s world became smaller. Friends and fitness were replaced with loneliness and hours spent on a computer screen. Mark and Ken’s mother Keiko noticed their son began talking to himself, forced to imagine the world that had been ripped from him.
The cuts to his funding were combined with what Mark describes as a suddenly adversarial relationship with the organisation that manages the scheme, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). Disability support networks across Australia describe similar experiences of plans being slashed without adequate reasons. Along with these mounting anecdotal reports, official figures reveal a 400 per cent increase in complaints about NDIS plan cuts to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and the NDIA spending tens of millions of dollars fighting its disabled clients.
NDIS price freeze of support coordination for third year running sees businesses exit market
Kathy and Daniel Dwyer fear they will no longer be able to get the critical services they need for their two daughters, both on the autism spectrum, as support coordinators abandon the industry amid an ongoing pricing freeze.
West Australian NDIS participant Mitchell Pearce dies in Busselton hospital waiting for disability accommodation
The family of a disabled man who died after spending more than four months in hospital waiting for accommodation have described the National Disability Insurance Scheme and aged care system in Australia as “broken”.
Advocates say there are more than 1,000 NDIS participants “stuck” in hospital.
People living with multiple sclerosis join growing chorus for reforms to ‘clearly broken’ NDIS
A Sydney resident said her first NDIS package was “amazing” and she could not use all of the allocation.
But she said it had since been cut and she can now only see an exercise physiologist once a week.
Kelly Engelhardt said she was getting weaker and needs funding for two sessions a week.
Des Graham, the chair of MS Australia who was diagnosed with the condition 14 years ago.
“The National Disability Insurance Scheme is great architecture, but it is fractured and people are having lower qualities of life because of two things: firstly they’re not getting access to it and then, secondly, those who are getting access aren’t getting the right packages,” he said.
“It gave a lot of people a lot of hope, unfortunately it is clearly broken.”
Mr Graham has an extensive background in health as a nurse, researcher and senior bureaucrat, but in his personal experience he has found the NDIA “completely frustrating and quite honestly unbelievable”.
Documentation from the NDIA shows it declined his application for 69 hours of physiotherapy over two years because it was “not considered value for money and may in part be considered treatment of a medical condition, so more appropriately funded by health”.
He got 55 hours over two years – half the amount he said he really needs. Mr Graham wants the NDIA to recognise it is not a disease management expert.
Here are links to NDIS newsletters over the quarter:
Thursday, 16 June 2022 Home and living improvements
Thursday, 30 June 2022 Join the winter relief workforce
Friday, 12 July 2022 Update to key participant booklets
Thursday, 25 August 2022 NDIA corporate plan 2022 – 2026