Tuesday, 16 January 2018
Plea for help as gaps, delays plague NDIS
Tory Shepard | Advertiser
A CRISIS looms in the disability sector amid warnings that South Australians will be left without crucial services as the National Disability Insurance Scheme rolls out.
There are delays in approving participants’ plans, and some services are closing before people with disabilities have access to new services through the NDIS.
Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent says parents had already contacted her office to say they felt they had no choice but to take children out of therapy because they are afraid they won’t be able to afford to pay for it themselves because of funding delays.
“Often, once their NDIS funding is back in place, the child then has to be put on their therapist’s waiting list all over again,” she said. She told The Advertiser people were going without vital equipment and support waiting for funding to be approved.
Agencies yesterday said entire regions were without Local Area Co-ordinators to help. Autism SA President Jenny Karavolos told The Advertiser everybody wanted the NDIS to work but that without “bridges” to get people onto it, people would miss out.
She said the experience for people with autism was mixed because of their variety of needs. “If you’ve met one person with autism … you’ve met one person with autism,” she said.
“Some are delighted (with the NDIS) because they didn’t have any financial support before. For others, it’s the worst thing because they didn’t realise how much it costs and now those mainstream services have gone.”
“A lot of services are being transferred before there’s any kind of bridge. Who’s going to fall between the gaps?” The State Government and a range of advocates spoke out yesterday to support the NDIS but to also voice concerns about the state’s transition at the end of June.
The radical overhaul of the system will see services close or transform but there is no guarantee that people will be able to move seamlessly from one to the other.
SA has only two LACs who cover Northern Adelaide and the Barossa, Light and Lower North. Disabilities Minister Katrine Hildyard said the Federal Government needed to fix the planning process, appoint more LACs, ensure enough resources and guarantee it would fund “last resort” help.
“People with disabilities have waiting long enough for the life-changing benefits of the NDIS,” she said. National Disability Services state manager Peter Hoppo said SA lagged behind other states because LACs should have been in place by now.
An NDIA spokesman said it had tendered for the LAC positions but it “has not resulted in any preferred applicants”, so the authority was using “innovative models” to deliver the scheme.
Assistant Minister for Disability Services Jane Prentice was disappointed by the State Government’s approach. “A number of the matters raised today were discussed at the Disability Reform Council meeting … where all jurisdictions including SA committed to work together,” she said.