Rick Morton, Social Affairs Reporter, The Australian, June 20, 2014
AUSTRALIA’S only politician who uses a wheelchair has written to the chairman of the national disability insurance scheme urging the board to listen more carefully to people who have a “lived experience” of disability.
South Australian Legislative Council member Kelly Vincent, who heads the Dignity for Disability Party, wrote to Bruce Bonyhady last week, highlighting the lack of people with disability involved in national forums relating to the landmark NDIS.
It comes after The Australian revealed leading disability advocates and NDIS trial users wrote to the scheme’s bosses warning that it was not delivering the transformational program that was promised.
Ms Vincent wrote “in light of increasing disquiet and publicly expressed criticisms’’ over the “implementation and administrative processes of the national disability insurance scheme” there was a need for a national conference involving speakers who were mostly people with disability and family members, not bureaucrats and other stakeholders.
She questioned whether real choice and control had been achieved, whether early intervention was simply given lip service and whether the system favoured people with physical disabilities over intellectual impairments, such as autism.
The letters come after federal Disability Minister Mitch Fifield told Senate Estimates this month the ACT had requested its phase-in to the full NDIS, which begins next month, be extended from two years to 2¼ years.
“We expect 5000 people to be eligible for the NDIS in the ACT, and obviously they cannot all move in on 1 July,” ACT Disability Minister Joy Burch told The Australian.
“We know from the experience of other trial sites that the NDIA (the agency that administers the scheme) has taken around 60 days to get individual packages in place.
“Under our phasing schedule, the NDIA and ACT governments have agreed to ensure that all 5025 participants have made contact with the NDIA within two years, and started the planning process.
“In other words, everyone will be in the front door by 1 July, 2016, but for a small number of people their packages may not be finalised until September of that year. They will continue to receive the services they currently receive until they have transitioned fully to the NDIS.”
The Australian understands a signed, updated bilateral agreement will be available publicly soon. In the new agreement, the NDIA allows for a lag of 30 days to complete packages.
National Disability Services chief executive Ken Baker said it was important to realise the NDIS was not quite a year old and, consequently, there were a “lot of design issues that need to be refined”.