Kelly Vincent – ABC interview on National Disability Insurance Scheme rollout in South Australia

Sarah Tomlinson: Kelly Vincent has flagged the availability of services to regional and remote areas. With the responsibility now on the client, or us, to choose our own providers she’s worried that there won’t be enough service providers to fully assist those with their needs. She spoke here with the ABC’s Annabelle Reagan.


Kelly Vincent: Certainly there is a lack of disability support services available, particularly in regional areas, so for many people they may have funding available and they may be eligible for those services but unfortunately there are no service providers actually available to provide whatever that service might be. It might be a support worker to get someone out of bed or speech pathology services for example. There’s a big shortage of lots of services in regional areas in particular and that’s exactly why the Dignity party has been lobbying Government to find innovative ways in encouraging people to take up these jobs because we know that at the moment we only have about half the staff including support workers but things like physiotherapists, speech pathologists and so on that we will need under a fully rolled out NDIS, so while there are problems this is a big growth area and we need to encourage people to take up these jobs to fill those gaps.


Sarah Tomlinson: Obviously, the NDIS has started to roll out, how do you think that is going? Is there any concern about the services in this roll over change over period?


Kelly Vincent: I think the NDIS roll out has certainly not been without its challenges. It’s important to remember that this is really a once in a generation reform in the same way that Medicare was a huge sweeping once in a generation reform and there are of course going to be teething problems with that. The problems have included some issues with the portal, the website where people log on to make claims against their funding, to pay for services that they’re accessing because that portal didn’t load properly when it transitioned over to the new one. A lot of people went many weeks in some cases months without that funding and weren’t able to pay for and therefore weren’t able to access services which has a particular impact, I think on regional areas where people are already geographically isolated and they can’t necessarily look at getting services elsewhere or perhaps might even be socio-economically disadvantaged and not able to pay for their supports out of their own budget in the meantime while the problems have been rectified. So we’ve been very pleased to play a big role in rectifying some of those portal issues. They are still ongoing but I think we are gradually getting over the worst of them. I’m really glad to see the scheme working better as a result.


Sarah Tomlinson: Do you think people are going to be better off once the NDIS has finished rolling out across the country?


Kelly Vincent: Although the NDIS is a hugely expensive reform, it’s a $22 billion per year nationwide reform, I certainly know it’s a scheme that we cannot afford not to have because so many people with disabilities and our family carers have been affected so long by going without those supports that we need to do everything from getting out of bed to have a shower to have speech pathology services, physiotherapy services and so on and it’s really important that we look at these services as an investment because the more we invest in people to become more independent and healthy the less support they may need further on down the track, so I think this is a really positive investment in both society and people having better quality life but also saving money in the economy in the long term as well.


Sarah Tomlinson: What services are needed most right now?


Kelly Vincent: There’s certainly a lack of general disability support workers, so people who are able to help people with things like getting out of bed, getting dressed, having a shower and so on or in the community participating in particular activities or even just doing their grocery shopping. There’s a big dearth particularly I think in regional areas of those types of workers but there’s also a lack of more targeted supports as well like speech pathology and physiotherapy and therefore people particularly in the case of children and young people are maybe not getting the support and the skills that they could have to be more independent and healthier down the track and that’s a big concern. But as I said, this is a big area of growth and certainly if anyone is considering getting into working in disability be that as a support worker or something specialised, now is a great time to think about that.


Sarah Tomlinson: There’s obviously some unhappy sentiment in Moonta in regional South Australia do you think the people in regional South Australia are worse off than they would be in a more metro area?


Kelly Vincent: I think they certainly are particularly because of the geographical isolation and the lack of services in regional and remote areas that causes some gaps that people really probably wouldn’t experience to the same extent in metropolitan South Australia so there certainly is a need to target getting people into those jobs, into those areas, not only because people with disabilities and their families need those services but regional areas are particularly hit by unemployment as well so this is a great opportunity and one we’d like to see the Government take a lot more leadership in promoting.


Sarah Tomlinson: If people are struggling at the moment in regional South Australia, is there anywhere they can go or services you could recommend to them?


Kelly Vincent: If they are already under and NDIS plan they can make a complaint to the National Disability Insurance Agency which is the agency responsible for rolling out the scheme and they can request a review. So if they feel they’re not getting the right services or not getting enough funding they can request a review to have the funding reviewed and potentially look at getting more supports and funding wrapped around themselves or their child. Also of course they are able to contact advocacy services or request an advocate or support person to come to those planning meetings with them. I would always obviously encourage networking with people who have similar experiences or needs to your own to learn about how other people are managing their funding, getting the services that they need, because that may give them ideas that people may not have thought of as well. Young people, aged 15-17, have started rolling onto the NDIS in the last six months. Adults will start rolling out in northern Adelaide from 1st July this year. Then regional areas will start having adults roll on later in the year from October 1st, 2017, and that includes the mid north and Yorke Peninsula, etc, so certainly we appreciate that not everyone is on the scheme yet and missing out as a result. We certainly hope that will be rectified very soon come October and in the meantime contact your current service provider or the agency to get advice and support. You can contact the agency even if you haven’t rolled on yet and feel free to contact the agency and of course my office is always available to advocate for anyone who is concerned also.


Sarah Tomlinson: MLC Kelly Vincent, the concerns around Moonta that were mentioned, it was quite a powerful image of a sign on a car parked near a major road there on the Yorke Peninsula that said they wanted more assurance for the NDIS system coming to country areas.