The managers of Australia’s $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) have been slammed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for being “slow”, lacking transparency and being “bloody-minded”. From The Australian:
In an extraordinary decision, Administrative Appeals Tribunal deputy president Gary Humphries has attacked the National Disability Insurance Agency for tearing through legal resources simply because it has such a “haphazard” approach to making decisions.
“It seems to the tribunal entirely inappropriate that a participant, working with finite resources and coping with the added burden of a disability, should need to be left in doubt as to the status of decisions made affecting his or her entitlement to the benefits conferred by the legislation,” the decision says.
“Yet this is precisely the situation many applicants to the tribunal have found themselves in recently.”
… The Australian can reveal the NDIA spent almost $6 million on internal and external legal teams last year…
It is losing more cases, however, with data from the March quarterly update showing the NDIA has lost 42 per cent of the 375 resolved cases taken to the AAT. To March, a total 757 matters had been referred to the tribunal.
I have a mid-level autistic son. He is 10 years old. He cannot have a conversation, cannot read, and goes to a special school. My wife spent countless hours doing NDIS paperwork, attending meetings, phone calls, medical appointments, etc, only to have my son’s access cut to services that we previously accessed without a hitch.
Our personal experience is that the NDIS is a disaster, whereby funding has flowed to bureaucrats and middle-men, rather than to those in need with disabilites.
The way I see it, there are several key issues with the NDIS.
First, its funding comes from Budget appropriations, rather than through legislation. This means that Parliament has to approve a fixed amount of funding each year that cannot be exceeded. By contrast, services like Medicare are enshrined in legislation, meaning there is no fixed amount of services that cannot be exceeded.
Second, and related to the above, the NDIS’ gradual roll-out meant that those placed at the beginning of the roll-out received significant funding, whereas those positioned later on, like my son, have been shafted, purely because the well of funding has run dry.
Moreover, the bureaucrats administering the scheme have had to spend more resources (e.g. on lawyers) fighting appeals against their funding cuts, which has burned more funding.
Third, the enormous pot of money on offer under the NDIS has spawned a whole range of middle-men and providers seeking to cash in, leading to significant waste. We’ve seen this before with the rorting of the private VET sector, rorting of childcare subsidies, and rorting of the Pink Batts Scheme.
When the NDIS was first announced, families of the disabled were given assurances they would be no worse-off. I can say from personal experience, and from talking extensively with others in the community, that this certainly has not been the case.
Access to services has been cut, whereas time wasted on bureaucratic processes has ballooned.
The NDIS is great for the middle-men, but not so great for those with disabilities.