By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN
GEELONG hosted a conference to monitor the progress of the National Disability Insurance Scheme this week as mental health advocates warned people were still being left out.
Barwon Disability Advocacy Network organised the conference after monitoring the local NDIS pilot since its rollout in July 2013.
BDAN spokesperson Len Jaffit said the conference examined the NDIS’s performance for its 3200-plus clients in the region.
“It’s a good time for those who have been involved to explore how well it’s meeting its goals of a better life for people with a disability,” Mr Jaffit said.
“We looked at who’s eligible so far and who’s missing out and whether people with a disability have a strong enough voice in designing their care plans to make a real difference to their lives. As this is a pilot program there are inevitably still grey areas about which supports are covered and how the NDIS is reaching decisions when designing an individual plan.
“There have also been concerns about how people who have missed out on an NDIS package are being supported.”
Mr Jaffit said the NDIS’s involvement of clients in shaping service plans was “great in theory” but could be difficult for people with communication or cognitive impairments.
Mental Health Australia chief Frank Quinlan said uncertainty around the scheme was threatening services to the mentally ill.
Feedback from trial sites consistently showed the mentally ill were left “confused and disheartened”, Mr Quinlan said.
“The NDIS is too important to be rushed without proper planning and design. Good intentions are not enough.
“Eligibility remains a major point of confusion. Indeed, we’ve heard that some apparently eligible people are still being rejected for support.
“We’re very concerned programs are being absorbed into the NDIS and people currently using these services will no longer be able to access them.”