The federal seat of Macquarie is among the most complained about electorates for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), according to MP Susan Templeman.
“I’m advised that my office has the dubious honour of having more complaints about the NDIS some months than any other electorate office, and we are always in the top three. It’s a scheme that is working for some people, but not for everyone,” she said
Ms Templeman was recently joined by Labor’s disability and carers spokeswoman, Senator Carol Brown, to meet with disability service providers across the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury.
“These providers, which included Dare, Uniting, Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre, Empowerability, Thorndale, NADO and Disability Advocacy NSW, spoke about how inefficient the systems are, problems with the fee structure, a lack of complaints process, the lack of training of planners leading to inadequate and inconsistent plans, and the extraordinary length of time it takes to get a plan reviewed,” said Ms Templeman.
“There are three things the new minister for disability can do immediately. He can lift the staffing cap at the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) so they can deal with things in a timely way; he can allow NDIS participants to see a draft version of their plans and he can fix the problems with the NDIS IT system.”
Ms Templeman said the challenges facing disability enterprises was also discussed with Senator Brown, and the fact that employment programs are so often not included in NDIS participants’ plans, in spite of their desire to be employed.
“A recent visit to see the people employed by Dare in Springwood and by the experience of having a Nova supported employee in my own office, reinforces for me how important having a job is for people with a disability,” Ms Templeman said.
A spokesperson for NDIA said they acknowledge the “pace of change has been challenging for many participants, providers and the NDIA and we are committed to working collaboratively with the community to ensure that the Scheme is understood and concerns are addressed”.
“This collaboration has ensured that despite the scale of the change, the number of complaints in NSW are no greater that those in other jurisdictions with similar populations and demographics.
“Nevertheless, the NDIA is committed to ensuring that our processes are effective for all participants and in October 2017, the NDIA released details of the new NDISpathway, with improvements piloted from January 2018. This pilot will trial participants being able to see a working version of their plan before it is finalised,” said the spokesperson.
“The NDIA is also committed to delivering the scheme in the most effective manner informed by the right mix of skills and knowledge that we need during each phase of the transition. To this end, the NDIA has engaged a mix of ongoing and contracted NDIA staff, community partners as local area coordinators, as well as a small number of contracted specialist advisers and consultants. This provides the NDIA with both the flexibility and skills required to deliver the NDIS which is a significant national reform, the first of its kind.”