By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN
Problems plaguing the Geelong-based National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) are risking the lives of disabled people, a parliamentary committee has heard.
Vanda Fear told the committee her son Paul had been put “badly at risk”.
She said “argy-bargy” between Victoria’s health department and the NDIA, which administers the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), had “absolutely torn apart” his support package.
“We were told that if you had an existing ISP (individual support package) you would not be disadvantaged in any way by this scheme coming in,” Ms Fear told the committee.
“Not everybody has higher health needs as well as a disability, as our son has. The argy-bargy…between health and disability has put our son at risk so badly.”
Ms Fear said her son “had the best therapist in Geelong” but she was fighting to keep his therapy component under the NDIS.
“We have been told that they do not fund it but we have been told neither does anybody else. We did not get it funded by anybody.
“We had to try everywhere and get it from DHS because there was nobody else in Victoria who could pay for it. But now we have been told that it is not going to be paid.”
Ms Fear said the cost of an independent therapy assessment had soared from $80 to $300 an hour under the NDIS.
“Our plan has been decimated. We have a lot less supports now and it is costing a lot more.
“I do not understand it and I do not think it is viable to roll the scheme out like it is.”
The committee heard numerous other problems with the NDIS Barwon trial site.
Another parent attacked initial assurances of a smooth transition from state-based support plans to the NDIS.
“Nothing could have been further from the truth,” the parent told the committee.
“Our lives were completely turned upside down and the stress for all of us has been enormous.”
The committee’s report identified a number of “challenges” facing the Barwon trial as well various criticisms from participants, their carers and service-providers.
“The committee notes that the challenges of the Barwon trial site relate mainly to the NDIA’s processes, its culture and its communication with stakeholders,” the report said.
Many problems stemmed from the “mindset of planners and the agency itself”.
The report made 17 recommendations for improvement of the NDIA.
The report followed a series of stories in the Geelong Independent over recent months about widespread dissatisfaction with the NDIS.
Clients and their carers complained to the Independent about losing support services under the scheme and expressed frustration with negotiating its red tape.
But two weeks ago NDIA chair Bruce Bonyhady claimed the NDIS trial had achieved a “very high” satisfaction rating.