In the Media

Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on the NDIS Portal and Surveillance Devices in Residential Settings

On Wednesday 27 July, Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent was interviewed on Vision Australia radio station to discuss the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) debacle and also the installation of surveillance devices in residential settings where people with high care needs live. Here is the transcript and audio from the interview.

Hans Reimer: And we’re joined again this evening by Kelly Vincent, Dignity for Disability MLC. Good evening Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: Hello Hans, how are you?

Hans Reimer: Very well, thank you. Now we’ve spoken before about the problems the new National Disability Insurance Scheme portal, or website, is causing for participants and providers alike. Can you tell us a little bit about this issue, how long it’s been going on for and when will it be solved?

Kelly Vincent: Well the issue has now been going for some six weeks, Hans. The last day of the old IT system was the 16 June 2016, so six weeks ago. That was also the last day that a participant could access their plan with any, and it was also the last day a service provider could access a participants plan so they could know if a participant had any money to spend on services and what services they were eligible for. June 16 was also the last time that a National Insurance Agency employed planner could approve a new plan for the NDIS or review an existing plan. Participants and particularly service providers have not been able to make a claim against funding since the 16 of June. Some providers have received emergency payments but they have to apply time and time again to get that emergency funding renewed. So it’s really just added another level of bureaucracy even though the agency is trying to help. And admin staff have spent all their time every day working through the IT problems but people are still unable to claim their National Disability Insurance Scheme funding. So for six weeks, in a nutshell, people with disabilities have been able to access services and service providers haven’t been able to be paid for the services that they have provide and so now we’re seeing people walk away from providing those services.

Hans Reimer: And now you’ve discovered there’s another huge challenge for them – not even the NDIS staff can use the new system. In fact, as you said no plans have been reviewed or approved in the past 6 weeks so the NDIS rollout has come to a screaming stop. Is this causing issues for the disability community?

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely. It’s understandably causing a significant level of anxiety in the community. You’re right the rollout of the NDIS has effectively been halted or frozen by the computer system meltdown and this is a nationwide problem for the scheme. Both for participants, service providers, disability advocates and the disability community at large. We understand that all NDIA staff are doing their best under very trying conditions but the NDIS may well collapse under the weight of its own administrative burden if the Minister for Social Services, the honourable Christian Porter MP, who is effectively in charge of the scheme doesn’t urgently step up, intervene and inject the support and resources to solve this problem. In some cases some small businesses, as I said have had to stop providing services for their clients and not because they want to or because they feel good about that but because it’s unfair to ask small businesses to go six weeks without being paid without any end in sight. So we really need urgent intervention and support from the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter.

Hans Reimer: And finally Kelly Vincent, we’ve all seen or heard about the horrific abuse of an elderly man with dementia in a Mitcham aged care facility, at the hands of an aged care worker. Effectively, the man’s daughter had to break the law to install covert surveillance devices in his room so she could catch the abuser in the act. What do you think about the installation of cameras or CCTV in residential facilities where people with very high care needs?

Kelly Vincent: Well, it’s certainly a nuanced issue and one that I think will need an individualistic approach, every person is different and will be wanting different things. But we certainly can’t deny that statistically people with disabilities, especially those who may have an intellectual disability or complex communication needs can be at very high risk of abuse and neglect compared with the general population. And especially abuse and neglect at the hands of those very people who are supposed to support us, be they family carers or paid personal support staff like support workers. So I think there has to be a choice and this should be something that is available and encouraged if people might choose to get a camera installed in their home or in their bedroom for example, if they live in a share house or a group home with other people with disabilities. But we do think that choice, at this stage my thinking is that choice does need to be at the centre of the decision because you certainly do need to respect people’s autonomy and privacy as well. But given that we often do see abuse uncovered only through covert filming. As in this case it may well be something that we need to look at seriously in parliament and we think in Dignity for Disability of course that if we are going to look at it for people who may be vulnerable because of their age – we should also logically look at it for people who may be susceptible to abuse because of their disability.

Hans Reimer: Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent – thanks once again for joining us on question time.

Kelly Vincent: Thank you very much Hans.