Disability advocates today welcomed Labor’s 10-point plan to get the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) back on track.
The plan, announced by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney, captures changes people with disability, their families and carers have long been calling for – including the creation of an NDIS Reserve Fund, more staff to clear backlogs and more help for people and families to navigate the complex scheme.
Campaign Director of Every Australian Counts Kirsten Deane said the creation of an NDIS Reserve Fund to quarantine funds for use within the NDIS was particularly welcome, given the challenges currently facing the landmark scheme.
“We have been incredibly frustrated that unspent NDIS funds have been quietly returned to government coffers while the scheme fails to deliver the support so desperately needed by people with disability and their families,” Ms Deane said
“We have long argued that funds tagged for the NDIS must remain in the NDIS.
“People with disability and their families and carers will also be relieved to see a promise to clear current backlogs so that people can finally get the support and equipment they have been waiting too long for.”
The plan released today also includes:
- Lifting the NDIA staff cap and improving staff training;
- New timeframes for entry into the scheme, plan and equipment approvals and plan reviews;
- More help for people to navigate the scheme and get their NDIS plans into action including more support for advocacy; and
- Targeted outreach for people who require additional support such as children, people from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or Culturally or Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.
“There is no question that when the NDIS works it absolutely changes lives. We see it’s life-changing power every day. But, for too many people, the scheme is not working well. It is too complex and too bureaucratic – and as a result some people are falling through the cracks while others are missing out altogether,” Ms Deane said.
“We have heard some truly heartbreaking stories of people who are really being let down by the NDIS. There are people with disability waiting two years for a wheelchair. There are families pushed to breaking point without essential support for their child. There are people hospitalised as a direct result of the stress of trying to work their way through a bureaucratic nightmare.
“Situations such as these cannot be allowed to continue. That is why, today we are holding a National Day of Action calling on all political parties to listen to people with disability and commit to getting the NDIS working the way it should – the way it was promised.
“All across the country people with disability, their families and carers and people who work in the sector are holding events and coming together to demand urgent change.
“Canberra needs to listen to us. After all, people with disability and their families know what is and what is not working when it comes to the NDIS – and we know how best to fix it.
“We want government to join us and work collaboratively with us so we can get the scheme working well for everyone who needs it,” said Ms Deane.