NDIS putting lives at risk as disability woes roll on

COMPLAINTS: The 30 May Independent revealed the first client complaints about the NDIS trial in Geelong.


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.


  1. It must be noted that these comments were made to the public hearings of the Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee back in April 2014. The report from the Committee has only just recently been released and whilst much of what was said in April still stands there have also been significant improvements in the roll out of the NDIS since then and a conversation with Mrs Fear and other witnesses would have reflected our current thoughts more accurately. I also presented to the Parliamentary Committee and there were a number of good news stories told by participants and families. Can we please see some balanced and up to date reporting. If asked now, Mrs Fear would tell you that the rocky start with the NDIS has improved significantly in the last 6 months.

  2. NDIA has still got a long way to go, it’s now September and I am still hearing about therapies that were once funded now being cut from plans, kids missing out on participating in community activities such as sport that were once funded by DHS flexible support packages and not in NDIA packages. Those parents who accessed the DHS packages for their kids to participate in the community couldn’t afford to pay and this funding has gone over to NDIA these kids now miss out. Carers , especially those caring for children now can’t get much assistance from Carers Respite because funding has gone to NDIA. Carers used to be able to get funding for a few nights away somewhere for a break or a dinner and a movie or something that gave them a break. but now this isn’t funded either . Does this government still expect us parents to provide care at no cost to them and be broken down to the point where we can no longer do this anymore!!

  3. It is so frustrating to hear people that have someone with a disability want everything paid for….please don’t get me wrong I very much understand the difficulties
    But all children want to do sport, mine wanted to many but I had to say no many times…..I couldn’t afford it…..this is the same principle for someone with a disability…….what my understanding is that the cost above “normal” because of a disability is covered, and regards to a night out there are relief components in the plan I know of a child that does more social activities with a Carer, he’s having fun and mum is having a break
    I think so many of the complaints we see are of a system/ govt that did not monitor what and why things are funded…..let’s get some balance into a scheme that is changing lives…..

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