In the Media

Diana Bleby Upper House Candidate – talking about the NDIS with Andrew Reimer

Andrew Reimer: Diana Bleby is with the Dignity Party and she is going to be their second ticket holder as a candidate for the next state election and the NDIS

Diana Bleby: The NDIS is a wonderful initiative but it’s still going through a major teething time and as an on the ground provider I can see the challenges to provide for families who for example have had a plan which has expired and they don’t get their plan renewed and they don’t know whether they can continue therapy or not until it’s renewed. There have been some provisions made around that, but certainly Kelly Vincent’s office and the Dignity Party are really looking at it very closely and get lots of calls around people who feel like they’re unable to continue their services because they may be out of pocket or the challenges to small business I can also probably talk about because I am one of those people,

Andrew Reimer: If somebody is enrolled in the NDIS they need an individual needs treatment and they haven’t got the money to pay for it out of pocket what do they got to do?

Diana Bleby: It’s one of those situations where people who have never been able to access those kind of services have had the opportunity to see what it can do for them to have it in some ways taken away, through to some of the logistics of everything that has to do with running the plan and the advice that they may get from planners. I think the planners need to be a lot better trained in order to be able to advise families. I’ve heard interesting stories about children being kind of screened for language difficulties for example by a planner who has no professional background in language issues, you also have the situation where we have children who’ve been on our books through intervention and the NDIS funding enables us to assess how they’re going to and see whether that’s worked and in many cases the early intervention does work and we’ve got kids who do not need to stay on the scheme.

That’s what’s supposed to happen, but then you’ve got children where a more serious consideration needs to be made such as a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder but the funding doesn’t allow for that very expensive assessment to take place other than the families paying for it because the time that they’ve spent in early intervention has indicated that there’s something more serious happening and so we’re dealing with families where it’s inequitable across different circumstances for different people. You get some great stories where things are going really smoothly and we’ve got families who continue to either have their plans ended because they’re not deemed to have a problem anymore because maybe the wrong language was used in a report and they don’t fit the mould from the other side of it, we as small businesses are trying to provide the best we possibly can for these families, in my case with speech pathology, and it’s very unpredictable around the income I’m probably owed about $30,000 through unresolved NDIS issues at the moment it’s not just about clients and families; the NDIS has attracted a lot of business to it with the amount of federal funding that’s there and there’s already people out there who I believe are literally seeing this as an opportunity to make money and they’re not looking after people with that. And so along with Kelly Vincent I’m very keen to make sure that we all remain responsible for the public money that we have been entrusted to.

Andrew Reimer: How long before it moves out of the teething stages?

Diana Bleby: That’s the ultimate question really, what I’m concerned about is because of the fact that it hasn’t been closely monitored and audited at a broader level, there’s a lot of money being spent which will lead to a kneejerk reaction about reduction of services for people who need it. The broader public may see the NDIS as being for people who have got visible disabilities, which it is, but from my background in speech language pathology we’ve got 60% of youth in incarceration who have a known or unknown language disability which causes them to fight with their fists rather than talk things through and it’s a huge cost to society because language disorders are quite invisible and speech pathology has probably been the service that has been used most by NDIS clients that may be the first area that they try and cut.

We’ve certainly seen people’s plans being reduced. Rather than having enough therapy to last them for a year they get 10 hours for a year and the rules change every week, there’s a lot of people, a lot of service providers, a lot of families who should be getting more than what they’re getting and have more recourse in their situation and we need a system which will allow people to have a good appeal process when their plan’s not working. We need a way for service providers to be able to easily say ‘we’re not getting our funds here’ and we need a global audit system so that the NDIS is making sure that all providers are being honest and working within the guidelines of the NDIS rather than being abusive of it and trying to make some kind of financial gain, I’m on the ground in northern Adelaide and the Riverland every week and I’m seeing those stories this is my reality.

Andrew Reimer: keep up the good work, Diana.