Kelly in the Media

Kelly Vincent – 891 ABC Interview on the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Ali Clarke: Good morning Kelly, you’ve just heard Regan’s story trying to get some much-needed equipment through the NDIS. Basically it was there and ready but they just couldn’t find anyone that had the time to tick the little box that needed to get it to Taz. How common is something like this?

Kelly Vincent: My office is getting daily phone calls and emails from people about the NDIS and there are certainly no shortage of issues and we’re also in daily contact with the NDIA to talk about these issues and to pass on those stories that people are living through to make sure that they get the necessary help they need to improve the situation. As Regan said the solutions need to be systematic, these can’t be solutions on a case by case basis but exactly what the NDIS was supposed to get us away from was before they had to get into crisis to get support and services they need.

Ali Clarke: So what are the biggest issues at the moment because the Government put in about $400,000 to look into where the system’s falling down, I was lead to believe it was supposed to be on the up and up and people were clearing a lot of the workload. What are you hearing?

Kelly Vincent: Back in July the Government transitioned the scheme onto a new portal, basically a new website where you can just log in to make claims to services or support but they need to pay for them, or if they’re a service provider you can make a claim to get paid against your client funding under the NDIS. Long story short that transition did not go well, it collapsed, people did not get the correct information they need, people couldn’t even see if there was any money left in their plans, different information loaded onto different clients portal and so on. That was a big issue for a long time people with disabilities were at risk of going without services, in fact many people did and services providers couldn’t get paid properly for the services that they were providing, that is still an ongoing issue, the portal still isn’t completely functional. The NDIA are working very hard to rectify that and the other issue in the past has been staffing and that’s largely due to the fact that when South Australia first became a trial site in the NDIS it was recognised that about 5,000 children and young people would be eligible and the number was about 10,000, the backlog has been quite significant. Those two issues together have created significant delays that are really not acceptable and that’s why we’re in such regular contact with the agency to make sure they put in place procedures and processes to deal with this.

Ali Clarke: Hi Jennifer. You’re having an issue at the moment with your six-year-old son who has autism?

Caller Jennifer: That’s correct. We’ve had a wonderful time on the NDIS for a couple of years it seemed superb. But now you’re getting to the point of requiring your annual planning meetings to discuss funding and you’re not able to get a planning meeting. I’ve got friends who have been rolled over for 12 months who are now looking at having another planning meeting and having their funding cut off. We’ve seen such improvements in our fund with the therapies he’s been able to have which has been fantastic through the funding. If we can’t get a planning meeting, we can’t get more funding and we just can’t afford to pay for those services on our own.

Ali Clarke: Kelly, this is exactly what the NDIS was supposed to setup to be able to give people the individual choice if the money is being rolled over or then stopped, what do people do then?

Kelly Vincent: I think what Jennifer is referring to is the planning review which several thousand South Australian participants have plans that have expired or are about to expire without a review and we need to solve this and make sure there are ongoing services. My office has advocated successfully for plans to be extended for three to four, six or twelve months depending on the age of the young person and the type of plan. Those automatic plan extensions are underway at the moment and we are working very hard to ensure that plans do get extended so that families and young people don’t have to worry that they’re going to lose their funding and the support that that funding provides.

Ali Clarke: We heard from Regan saying that she sent numerous emails, numerous phone calls and they weren’t even responded to. Where do people go for help at the moment?

Kelly Vincent: My office is in very regular contact with the agency and very happy to hear from anyone so that we can pass those stories on and advocate on peoples behalf especially with the planning review issues, getting some changes happening and also helping people to try and make contact with the agency. We’ve had some very strong words with the agency representatives about their need to be more responsive. Also of course people should be aware that they can employ the services and support of an advocate, either be that a paid advocate or a friend or family member, so don’t be shy about getting advocacy if you need that. It’s very important to remember that the NDIS is a massive cultural shift and people will now get the choice and control over what services they get and how and when they receive those services while that is a welcomed change, we can’t always expect people to understand all of their rights and responsibilities overnight. Advocacy is very important and making sure that people are aware of what they are eligible for, have a right to and how to get it.

Ali Clarke: Thank you. Sarah’s son has autism and they’ve been waiting two years just to get an interview with the NDIS and has had no funding for two years.