In The Media | 24 April 2015

NDIS delays proving costly for SA families and disability service providers

Delays in the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) have left families and service providers in South Australia thousands of dollars out of pocket.

South Australia is the trial site for children under 13 but the State Government says the rollout is six months behind schedule and it seems not all children will get included in the trial period.

There is concern the number of eligible children has been significantly underestimated and thousands have not yet been assessed.

The initial estimate was more than 5,000 children would be eligible for the NDIS, but the Federal Government now admitted it could be closer to double that.

The rollout was divided into five age groups but many of the youngest children are yet to be assessed for support.

Among those waiting are parents Rob and Maria Reinertsen, who want their eight-year-old son Matthew included.

“Matthew was part of the Better Start scheme that was going on and now that has stopped because of the NDIS,” Mr Reinertsen said.

“He was meant to start that at the age of seven … now he’s over eight and we’re still waiting even to have just our interview.”

Matthew has therapy five days each week for his cerebral palsy and for more than a year, the family has been finding more than $300 per week to meet the cost.

“That is quite costly considering that we do have two other children,” his father said.

“Unfortunately the other siblings do miss out on things that they want to do after school, purely for the fact of us having to pay for therapy costs.”

Matthew’s mother said the NDIS delays were taking a toll.

“It does put a lot of strain on the whole family, there’s a lot of frustration amongst us. It’s just the wait and not knowing when will our turn come up,” she said.

The scheme’s delays are also costly for disability service providers.

Staff recruited but NDIS rollout delayed

Novita Children’s Services chief executive Glenn Rappensberg said the organisation had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on staff recruitment.

“Obviously we can’t recruit staff [once] the demand occurs. We have to pre-plan and costs are incurred by the organisation if the demand doesn’t occur and revenue doesn’t come in,” he said.

SA Minister for Disabilities Tony Piccolo said the NDIS trial was six months behind and the problem was escalating.

“That time lag seems to be growing, every month it seems to get bigger and bigger,” he said.

“We are concerned that by the end of the trial period it could be potentially up to between nine and 12 months behind schedule, which also potentially delays the full rollout of the scheme for the adult population as well.”

The Federal Government said it had put an extra $72 million into the trial to help meet disability planning costs for more children.

Mr Piccolo said SA wanted its federal colleagues to put in even more money.

“The bilateral agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth was quite clear that, during the trial period, any monies required in addition to what was signed to make sure that the agreement is met has to be met by the Commonwealth,” he said

South Australia’s Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent said more staff were needed to help clear the scheme’s waiting list.

“We need the state and federal governments to sit down and fast-track that funding and have a mature discussion about how that is to be done,” she said.

“We also need to see more planners allocated to work with families and individuals to roll out the plans.”

The NDIS trial is scheduled to run until the middle of next year.

Source: ABC News