Sarah Martin, Political Reporter
Jedd (3) with behaviour therapist Stephanie Miller at the AEIOU Foundation, Huntfield Heights Centre.Source: News Corp Australia
SEVERELY autistic children are receiving less funding in trials of the National Disability Insurance Scheme than they were under previous funding arrangements.
Early intervention service provider the AEIOU Foundation, which set up in South Australia to test its viability under trials of the new national disability funding model, says it cannot operate effectively under the scheme.
AEIOU chief executive Alan Smith said it was able to provide only five days a fortnight of intensive therapy under the NDIS, compared with 10 days where the scheme was not yet in effect, in Queensland.
Programs for the 0.1 per cent of children with autism disorder require about $45,000 for each child, but the NDIS has set a benchmark payment of $16,000.
“The whole intention of the NDIS was an insurance scheme; you invest upfront for a return at a later date, and the level of funding that they are currently offering is quite contrary to what an insurance scheme should be,” Mr Smith said.
“That (the $16,000) doesn’t go near covering the costs of intensive, early intervention care — which is the proven, evidence-based approach for these children.”
Under the funding model that still applies in Queensland, where another AEIOU centre operates, state and federal government funding for autistic children totals about $21,000. The balance is covered by donations.
Funding for early intervention is about $40 million a year, less than a quarter of 1 per cent of the entire $14 billion NDIS budget.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon said he was helping autistic support groups to lobby Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield to fund early intervention services.
The dilution of funds to more people captured under the scheme was “spreading the jam too thin”, Senator Xenophon said.
“This is not what we signed up for. It is a perverse outcome for a scheme that was intended to give autism funding a shot in the arm.
“At the moment it is a bureaucratic morass and we need a breakthrough.”
Senator Fifield said the NDIS operated on an individual funding model and recognised the importance of early intervention.
“I cannot emphasise enough that the NDIS is individually oriented, with agency decisions on funding based on individual need,” he said.
Senator Fifield's comments confirm that the Government chooses to ignore stakeholders with ASD. He and his advisers refuse to recognise or respond to major deficiencies in how the NDIA treats people with autism/ASD. See also: