Disability advocate shares concerns with problematic NDIS
DISABILITY advocate Des Ryan and other Capricornia residents living with disabilities had high hopes for the National Disability Insurance Scheme but are frustrated with its underlying issues.
Mr Ryan, Community Solutions' community relations ambassador, believes the NDIS was "essentially a great package" with "some good outcomes" but for some people, this hasn't been the case.
He pointed to lengthy delays in claims being processed, people not getting the help they need and $1.1 billion which had been underspent.
"They've been held up for terrible amounts of time, needlessly exacerbated by this underspend," Mr Ryan said.
Another pressing issue they discussed at their stakeholder meeting with Labor's Families and Social Services spokeswoman Linda Burney and Labor's candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson was the issue of subsidising taxi fares.
Originally the NDIS was slated to cover the service, but the federal and state governments are currently arguing over funding and the Queensland Government is poised to cut the service off.
From past experience, Mr Ryan believed there would be a lot of angst in the community if this were to occur. "Every sort of disability is using a maxi-taxi at present.
Carers and parents are really concerned, one of them would have to give up work to look after their child during the day when they were previously occupied with different activities," he said.
Ms Burney said because of the delays, the caps and the lack of services, more than 77,000 Australians with disability are missing out on the NDIS, and the average recipient is being short-changed by $13,000 a year.
On a per capita basis Queensland is the worst, with 23,661 people with a disability not receiving the support they deserve, according to the NDIS December quarterly report.
Ms Burney said Labor's National Disability Insurance Scheme Future Fund would guarantee that every dollar budgeted for the NDIS goes to the NDIS, and that Australians with a disability in regional areas such as Central Queensland are not short-changed.
Flagged changes include lifting the staffing cap at the NDIA to reduce waiting times and help more eligible Australians get into the scheme faster, and improving the planning process with better trained planners and a new culture that puts people with disability back at the centre of the NDIS.
Labor also planned to improve services, particularly in regional and remote areas, and build a skilled, high quality disability workforce that can meet the growing demand of the NDIS while focusing on people with complex needs, including children, culturally and linguistically diverse adolescents (CALD) and indigenous Australians.
Mr Robertson said that too often he heard stories of unnecessary hardship from people in the Capricornia region who were waiting for much-needed support.
"The NDIS was designed to help Australians with a disability," Mr Robertson said.
"Labor will ensure the NDIS has the resources it needs to improve the lives of people with a disability in the Capricornia region now and into the future."
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry recently acknowledged the NDIS had issues which needed addressing.
"The NDIS is one of Australia's great policy initiatives in recent years and I am proud to be part of a government that is growing our economy so we can properly pay for the scheme," Ms Landry said.
"As with any new government program, there have been undeniable shortcomings at different times but the resounding message I get from Central Queenslanders, particularly those parents whose children are able to receive services to aid their development, is that the NDIS is a godsend for local families.
"By maintaining a strong economy we will be able to ensure it remains well funded."