Last year I labelled the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) a “bureaucratic nightmare”, citing my family’s own personal experience with our 11-year old autistic son.
Despite being diagnosed in the “severe range” of autism spectrum disorder, unable to converse or read, and attending a special school, my son was initially denied funding for disability services that he previously accessed without a hitch.
After engaging an advocate and spending many hours going through the appeals process, my son has had some funding restored, but all in all the process was a nightmare.
My wife’s advocacy efforts were like having a part-time job, only unpaid and far more demoralising.
Our overall experience speaking to families with disabilities is that the decision making processes around NDIS funding is arbitrary and based on pot luck.
Several children we know have been rejected from the NDIS altogether, despite having severe disabilities. Whereas others with less severe disabilities than my son received literally tens-of-thousands of dollars of funding.
With this sordid background in mind, it’s interesting to read today that the NDIS “risks collapse” due to its absurd pricing model and mountain of red tape. From The Canberra Times:
The NDS is calling for a new independent pricing body by July 2019, less bureaucratic red tape, more flexibility, better planning, sector safeguard, a focus on employment, and a fit-for-purpose pricing model, especially for people with complex needs and in rural and remote areas…
More than half of Australian disability providers said they would have to reduce the quality of services under the current pricing model, an independent survey commissioned by NDS showed.
One in 10 disability service providers have discussed closing and 28 per cent recorded a loss of deficit, according to the survey.
“This is just tragic … the whole point of the scheme was to provide support to people with the greatest need,” Ms McKenna Kerr said.
“If we don’t have urgent attention on this we are going to find more and more providers are not going to be able to provide support.”
Meanwhile, The ABC reports that the NDIS denied a deaf man $10,000 for a hearing aid upgrade, while granting him $15,000 for social outings:
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is being criticised by participants after it refused to fund $10,000 for a hearing aid upgrade for a profoundly deaf man and instead gave him $15,000 for social outings.
In a letter to Lawrie Dobson, the NDIS said this funding was to be used for core supports to assist with daily living and participation, and the funds would be paid directly to the support provider.
Veronica Dobson, who advocates for her son Lawrie, has accused the NDIS of ignoring the advice of specialists, not listening and wasting money.
“The NDIS needs to look at the needs of the individual — that is what the money should be spent on — not what they think will be good,” Mrs Dobson said.
“We have not used a cent of that”…
Mr Dobson’s audiologist recommended the upgrade, and private health insurance upgraded one speech processor, but funding could not extend to upgrading the second processor…
Mrs Dobson appealed the decision, but it was rejected again. She was told that she could appeal it, but the process was too exhausting.
“It’s review after review,” Mrs Dobson said. “How far can we go? “We’re only parents who have been trying so hard for our children to get the right thing for them, but you come across this brick wall and it can be very, very difficult, particularly when you have a sensory neural deafness.”
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.
For many, access to services has been cut, whereas time wasted on bureaucratic processes has ballooned.
The NDIS has been great for middle-men with their fingers in the honeypot, but a disaster for many families of the disabled.