Tribunal blasts NDIA over 'haphazard' handling of Canberra woman's case

Doug Dingwall

An appeals tribunal has called for Social Services Minister Dan Tehan to stop "haphazard" decision-making at the National Disability Insurance Agency blamed for delays in reviews involving support for a Canberra woman.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme participant, whose name was suppressed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, asked the agency to review new plans that reduced her support compared to her first one.

Tribunal deputy president Gary Humphries last week blasted the NDIA, administering the massive social reform,  for decisions that were "slow and difficult to interpret" and found the problem was common for participants.

"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, yet this is precisely the situation many applicants to the tribunal have found themselves in recently," he said.

In a decision whether to stay the new NDIS plan for the woman, Mr Humphries said the agency had not always been transparent in taking steps to review its plans for participants.

"The tribunal urges the responsible minister to consider as a matter of urgency the circumstances which give rise to this entirely unsatisfactory state of affairs, and to assess what measures, administrative or financial, might be required to mitigate it."

The woman had asked the tribunal to review the NDIA's decisions about her support, but Mr Humphries found he lacked jurisdiction to stay the new plan.

However the tribunal is yet to rule on whether the level of support provided under the new plan is appropriate.

Mr Tehan said he met with the NDIA to discuss the AAT findings and that the agency was making improvements.

An NDIA spokesman said it was focusing on early resolution of AAT concerns with participants, and had a team to address outstanding reviews and make improvements.

Changes to its services had also lowered the number of reviews and complaints in pilot locations, he said.

The NDIA was blasted for slow decision-making in the case of a Canberra woman.

Photo: Marina Neil

Canberra barrister representing the woman, Allan Anforth, said the agency's decisions were often vague and difficult to understand.

The appeal system under NDIS legislation was too slow and let the agency avoid the tribunal's scrutiny, he said.

The woman had asked the tribunal to review the NDIA's decisions about her support, but Mr Humphries found he lacked jurisdiction to stay the new plan.

However the tribunal is yet to rule on whether the level of support provided under the new plan is appropriate.

Mr Tehan said he met with the NDIA to discuss the AAT findings and that the agency was making improvements.

An NDIA spokesman said it was focusing on early resolution of AAT concerns with participants, and had a team to address outstanding reviews and make improvements.

Changes to its services had also lowered the number of reviews and complaints in pilot locations, he said.

The NDIA was blasted for slow decision-making in the case of a Canberra woman.

Photo: Marina Neil

Canberra barrister representing the woman, Allan Anforth, said the agency's decisions were often vague and difficult to understand.

The appeal system under NDIS legislation was too slow and let the agency avoid the tribunal's scrutiny, he said.

from https://www.canberratimes.com.au/nationa...