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The NDIS issues will be resolved by mid-2020 according to the Coalition.
MOST of the outstanding issues over the operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme should be ironed out by the middle of next year, federal minister for the program Stuart Robert says.
He says by that time all the states, bar Western Australia, will be fully involved in the scheme.
“So rather than this fight to get everyone from the states into the NDIS, it’s now on to how we get the NDIS on a normal, natural footing,” Mr Robert told Sky News on Sunday.
“And of course, you run the flag up the pole once WA is into full scheme by 2023.”
However, he conceded the government still has some issues over NDIS’s digital capacity that links providers with participants, which the Productivity Commission has said is crucial to the scheme’s success.
“‘I”m not satisfied that our ICT is where it needs to be in terms of delivering it,” he said.
“It will take us a while to get that into fruition.”
But he said the government would be announcing its full NDIS plan in the next few weeks to lay out what he described as “the new normal” for business as usual.
What is the NDIS?

There are around 4.3 million Australians who have a disability. When it is fully rolled out, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will provide about 460,000 Australians aged under 65, who have permanent and significant disability with funding for supports and services. For many people, it will be the first time they receive the disability support they need.

The NDIS can provide all people with disability with information and connections to services in their communities such as doctors, sporting clubs, support groups, libraries and schools, as well as information about what support is provided by each state and territory government.

To check your eligibility go to – https://www.ndis.gov.au/applying-access-ndis/am-i-eligible

Chris Spicer

AUSTRALIANS with a disability are being asked to share their experiences with a new review aimed at cutting wait times under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Former finance department secretary David Tune will review the scheme’s legislation and rules, with a view to streamlining processes.

NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said the inquiry will help the federal government deliver on its promise to address issues with timeframes around setting up or altering plans for NDIS participants.

The coalition has vowed to introduce the new standards by mid-2020.

‘We are listening, and will be consulting with people with disability and their families, the disability services sector, ministers and officials from Commonwealth and state governments and the National Disability Insurance Agency as part of this review,” Mr Roberts said on Monday.

Consultations will begin later this month with an online survey, discussion paper and face-to-face workshops across the country.

Mr Tune retired from the public service in 2014 and has since led reviews into MPs’ parliamentary entitlements and the aged care system.

“Mr Tune has a great deal of experience in reviewing important policy and is a great choice to lead this next phase of making the NDIS even better,’ Mr Robert said.

The NDIS will support up to 500,000 people over the next five years.

Mr Robert has already said he wants wait times for children accessing support to be cut in half by October, using a new waiting “cap” of 50 days.

The average wait time for children to receive NDIS plans at the moment is 127 days.

Australian Associated Press

NDIS waiting times are set to be halved by mid 2020 according to Disabilities Minister Stuart Robson

AUSTRALIANS with a disability are being asked to share their experiences with a new review aimed at cutting wait times under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Former finance department secretary David Tune will review the scheme’s legislation and rules, with a view to streamlining processes.

NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said the inquiry will help the federal government deliver on its promise to address issues with timeframes around setting up or altering plans for NDIS participants.

The coalition has vowed to introduce the new standards by mid-2020.

‘We are listening, and will be consulting with people with disability and their families, the disability services sector, ministers and officials from Commonwealth and state governments and the National Disability Insurance Agency as part of this review,” Mr Roberts said on Monday.

Consultations will begin later this month with an online survey, discussion paper and face-to-face workshops across the country.

Mr Tune retired from the public service in 2014 and has since led reviews into MPs’ parliamentary entitlements and the aged care system.

“Mr Tune has a great deal of experience in reviewing important policy and is a great choice to lead this next phase of making the NDIS even better,’ Mr Robert said.

The NDIS will support up to 500,000 people over the next five years.

Mr Robert has already said he wants wait times for children accessing support to be cut in half by October, using a new waiting “cap” of 50 days.

The average wait time for children to receive NDIS plans at the moment is 127 days.

Australian Associated Press

Trilbie Bermingham, Amanda Clifton and Shane Spicer at Parkes CDS HQ

A NEW report has highlighted the discrimination and hardship people with disability face, with over 60 percent of survey respondents unable to afford to get access to the disability support they require.

Disability Rights Now 2019: Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has been a collaborative effort by Disabled People’s Organisations, disability representatives and advocacy organisations from around Australia.

The report, which has been endorsed by over 80 organisations from around the country, includes the findings from a survey of almost 900 Australians with disability and reviews the country’s progress in implementing the CRPD, which focuses on upholding the rights of people with disability.

Executive Director of Women With Disabilities Australia, Carolyn Frohmader, says the report was an opportunity for people with disability across Australia to tell the United Nations about the widespread hardship, discrimination, violence and poverty they face every day.

“As part of the national consultation, nearly 900 people with disability from every State and Territory filled out a survey.

“The results showed how far we still have to go in making sure we have the same rights as everyone else.

“Australia is breaching our human rights commitments to people with disability, including in the areas of violence, restrictive practices and forced sterilisation, education and the over-representation of people with disability in the criminal justice system,” Ms Frohmader says.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of First People’s Disability Network, Damian Griffis, says the report also shows Indigenous people with disability routinely have their rights ignored, particularly in the criminal justice system.

“Indigenous people with disability are 14 times more likely to be imprisoned than the rest of the population,” Mr Griffis explains.

“50 percent of the total prison population report a history of psychosocial disability, almost one-third report disability, and 25 percent to 30 percent of prisoners have an intellectual disability.”

Mr Griffis says survey respondents reported major concerns over the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“People with disability emphasised how hard it is to access the NDIS, how difficult the NDIS is to us and about long waits for advocacy to help with the process.

“In addition, a majority of people with disability (61 percent) reported not being able to afford or get access to the disability support they need.

“Many people with disability die decades younger than their non-disabled peers.”

Ms Frohmader added that the report shows how far Australia has to go before people with disability have the same freedoms and rights as non-disabled people.

“We know Australia has made significant progress over the last five years with the implementation of the NDIS and the establishment of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability, but many of the issues that we reported on before are still the same in 2019, and that has to change.”

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will review Australia’s progress in September in Geneva and a delegation of people with disability will be in attendance to present this report to the CRPD Committee and discuss the findings.

The groups who contributed to the report include:

  • Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia)
  • Council for Intellectual Disability NSW (CID)
  • Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI)
  • Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI)
  • Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA)
  • Australian Centre for Disability Law (ACDL)
  • Queensland Voice for Mental Health (QVMH)
  • Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA)
  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO)

The Disability Rights Now 2019 report was made possible by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department and PwC Australia.

You can read the report here.

Charles Hamer (seated) with Donna Little of CDS.
Charles Hamer (seated) with Donna Little of CDS.
CHARLES LIVING PRINCELY LIFE AFTER GETTING NEW JOB
 
CHARLES Hamer is a great example of dedication and resilience. From having no job, living in shared accommodation and no license, the CDS client is now ticking all the boxes and it is not only because of his drive but the tremendous support from his carers.
 
“I have some great people in my life who have helped me get to where I am today,” said Charles.
 
“From Donna and Jodie through to direct carers such as Ian, Rodney and Martin – they have all played a part.
 
“I am now in my first month at McDonalds, living independently and have a full license,” he said.
 
“It has been a real boost to my confidence and I can say I have never been happier!”
 
Charles also credits his new found happiness to the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the Central West stating that the new model is one of the big reasons he is in the position he is in today.
 
“The NDIS allows me to choose what I want to do, when, how and who with,” he said.
 
“Currajong has been extremely helpful and supportive.
 
“I have really turned a corner and am now planning ahead with confidence,” he said.
 
“I am actually contemplating doing some TAFE courses and study to further my hospitality skills and add to my existing skill set.”
 
Despite all the positive news Charles remains focused and grounded.
 
“I just take one day at a time and keep doing the best that I can,” he said.
 
“That mindset has brought me this far.
 
“And I hope it continues to serve me well.”
 
(CAPTION: Charles Hamer seated with Donna Little of CDS)
Do you qualify for the NDIS?
Do you qualify for the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the new way of providing individualised support for people with disability, their families and carers – it’s the insurance that is designed to give us all peace of mind.

“Disability could affect anyone and having the right support makes a big difference,” a spokesperson said. “The NDIS provides eligible people a flexible, whole-of-life approach to the support needed to pursue their goals and aspirations and participate in daily life.

“The NDIS is a big change and will be progressively rolled out across NSW and should be operating statewide by July 2018.”

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is working closely with the relevant Commonwealth and NSW government departments to ensure there is a smooth transition to the NDIS for people with disability, their families, carers and providers.

If you currently access services you will be contacted to discuss the process of entering the NDIS but if your region has already transitioned, don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Some people aren’t sure if they qualify so here are the rules. To access the NDIS you must:

  1. Live in Australia and be: an Australian citizen OR a permanent resident OR hold a Protected Special Category Visa.
  2. To receive the NDIS you must be aged under 65 years. In some locations, you need to be a certain age to access the NDIS during the trial period. Other supports may be available if you don’t qualify.
  3. To access the NDIS right now, you must live in an NDIS area on a designated date. In some of these areas, you also need to be a certain age to use the scheme.
  4. To meet the NDIS disability rules you need to have an impairment or condition that is likely to be permanent (lifelong) and that stops you from doing everyday things by yourself.

The following questions may help you decide if your answer is ‘yes’.

Do you usually need support from a person or assistive equipment so you can:

  • Understand and be understood by other people?
  • Make and keep friends and cope with feelings and emotions?
  • Understand, remember and learn new things?
  • Get out of bed and move around the home and outside the home?
  • Take a bath or shower, dress and eat?
  • Do daily jobs, handle money and make decisions?

Early intervention rules

To meet the NDIS early intervention rules, you need to have an impairment or condition that is likely to be permanent (lifelong), or be a child under six years of age with a developmental delay and the delay means you usually need more help with your self-care, communication, learning or motor skills than another child of the same age.

Early intervention supports provided by the NDIS are those not provided by any other services such as health and education.

The following questions may help you decide if your answer is ‘yes’. Would early intervention:

  • Reduce the impact of your impairment or condition or developmental delay?
  • Stop the impact of your impairment or condition from getting worse?
  • Strengthen your informal supports, such as helping a carer to keep supporting you?

Call the NDIA on 1800 800 110 if you have any questions or to ask for an access request form.

Patrick Trout of CDS Parkes
Patrick Trout of CDS Parkes

IT might be hoped the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will provide all necessary services, but councillor Stephen Nugent says keeping advocacy organisations afloat will be crucial to ensure no one slips through the cracks.

Cr Nugent will move a motion at Tuesday night’s Orange City Council meeting to note the importance of groups advocating for people with disabilities and support a campaign by the NSW Disability Advocacy Alliance to have advocacy continue to be funded, writing to Disability Services Minister Ray Williams and Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Cr Nugent said up to half of the state’s 50 advocacy services faced closure when $13 million in funding ran out on June 30 due to a shift towards the NDIS.

He said they provided independent support to people with disabilities and campaigned across issues including making public transport more accessible and ending the high rate of preventable deaths in healthcare for people with an intellectual disability.

“This in turn would put the onus back on local government or the community sector to fund such services, or see them disappear,” he said.

“Neither of these outcomes is desirable or beneficial for people with disability.”

Asked whether he thought lobby groups would be necessary after the NDIS rollout was complete, Cr Nugent said they would not “in an ideal world”.

“But I don’t think we live in an ideal world,” he said.

“The NDIS is a brilliant concept and it’s really history in the making.

“If there is an issue with the NDIS, that a particular group aren’t receiving the services they require, or there’s no funding for a type of service that’s needed, what group is going to stand up?”

PHOTO: Pia Casalaz says the Horans' help has made a huge difference. (ABC News: Norman Hermant)
PHOTO: Pia Casalaz says the Horans' help has made a huge difference. (ABC News: Norman Hermant)

By ABC Social Affairs correspondent Norman Hermant

When Chiara Casalaz arrives at Kathleen Horan’s house, she feels right at home. That’s because the 18-year old, who lives with Down Syndrome, spends one day a month with the Horan family.

“It’s been an extraordinary thing for us, really,” said Kathleen Horan, who volunteered to be matched with Chiara 11 years ago.

“She’s a part of our family story now.”

Chiara will often stay over on a Saturday night. She comes to family events like birthday parties, and the Horans attended her first communion and her presentation ball at school.

She’s become like a sister to the family’s three children.

Chiara’s stays with her volunteer family are also a huge help for her mother, Pia Casalaz.

Her husband died earlier this year.

The time Chiara spends with the Horans gives her a few valuable hours when she doesn’t need to focus entirely on Chiara.

Need for volunteers growing

But volunteers like the Horan family are getting harder to find.

The not-for-profit organisation that matched them with Chiara, Interchange Incorporated, says growth in volunteer numbers has stalled, even as the need for volunteers grows.

“Interchange have been running these volunteer programs for 37 years now. And this is a definite change in the number of people applying to volunteer,” Interchange executive officer Kerry Uren said.

“What we’re finding is the number of people in the community who are inquiring about volunteering has plateaued.

Demand outstrips number of helpers

Determining just how many people volunteer to assist people with disability requires some guess work.

In Victoria alone, a recent survey of service providers suggested there may be as many as 30,000 people helping through volunteer programs.

But that’s not nearly enough to meet demand.

And during the week that marked International Volunteer Day, Interchange is putting out a call for help.

“At the moment, we have 1,000 families on our waiting lists,” Ms Uren said.

Long wait for help

Sarah Chapman, and her two children, are one of those families.

Her six-year old daughter Ayla lives with an intellectual and physical disability, and is non-verbal.

Her son Deegan is eight and lives with mild autism.

“For us, it would mean so much,” Ms Chapman said.

The single mother moved from country Victoria to Melbourne in the hopes it would be easier to get help for her children.

She’s been waiting for a volunteer to help with Ayla for three years.

“I would really like it. Not just for myself but for my kids,” she said.

She worries that without a volunteer to help with Ayla, Deegan is missing out.

“Ayla’s needs pretty much take up a lot of my time, and Deegan also needs time for him as well, so we struggle,” she said.

No special training required

Contrary to what many people may think, says Kathleen Horan, volunteer families like hers didn’t need any special training.

“People think it’s a lot bigger and a lot harder than it is,” she said.

It may be just one day a month. That’s enough, says Chiara’s mother, Pia Casalaz.

“It’s made a huge difference. It gives her a sense of special friends, and she does things with them that she may not necessarily do with us,” she said.

The connection Chiara feels to the Horan family runs deep. Not long after her father passed away this year, she had to pick a relative to take to the Father’s Day breakfast at school.

Chiara chose the Horan’s 21-year old son, Seamus.

“How do you put a price on that? She had someone special to go with … so that was just beautiful,” Ms Casalaz said.

“I’d say to anyone who’s thinking about it, go for it. Try it. Step outside your comfort zone. Make a difference in somebody else’s life.

“You’re leaving some sort of a legacy. They remember you.”

If you wish to volunteer or to find out about employment opportunities please contact us at Currajong Disability Services via email at mail@currajong.org, phone 02 6863 4713 or pop into 30 Welcome Street, Parkes.

Robert De Luca
Robert De Luca

Parts of the implementation of this NDIS have been flawed. The official leading of the rollout of this NDIS saying he has heard the community concerns “quite loudly”.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) recently announced a significant overhaul of the way it interacts with people with a disability and develops their support packages. The NDIA will move to end its much-criticised reliance on phone interviews to make complex decisions about a person’s unique support needs. Face-to-face planning will now become the standard.

Advocates have welcomed the change. But People with Disability Australia has warned it may not be feasible without an injection of staff and funding. “PWDA remains concerned about how these goals will be met without an increase in human resources or budget,” the organisation said.

The overhaul of the NDIS “pathway” has been made after months of consultations with more than 300 people with a disability, their carers and families, and providers.

The NDIA was told the scheme was “not meeting expected standards”.

NDIA chief executive Robert De Luca said the agency was moving quickly to address shortcomings. The consultation process had told him “quite loudly” what was working, and what wasn’t.

“What we’ve heard through the process is that the phone conversation hasn’t always been as engaging as it could have been in a face-to-face environment,” De Luca said. 

The agency has faced persistent criticism over its implementation of the NDIS, the biggest reform to the disability sector in decades. Participants and advocacy groups have repeatedly warned that inadequate and inconsistent decisions are being made on support packages.

Many of the problems have been linked to the pace of the rollout, lack of expertise and knowledge about disability within parts of the NDIA, and a lack of proper resourcing.

A public advocate’s office said that to meet the NDIS rollout deadlines, planners would need to develop support packages for 3600 people a week. But De Luca said many of the problems being experienced did not relate to the speed of the rollout.

NDIS records suggest 70 per cent of planning conversations were occurring over the phone, which critics say leaves planners with an inadequate idea of a person’s home environment and unique support needs.

Phone calls are also not an accessible means of communication for many participants. The changes announced recently would seek to address that problem, and ensure “all NDIS plan development” occurs face-to-face. That is designed to address concerns that the NDIS is faceless and rigid, and bounces participants between offices and staff with frequency.

Communications with participants will be changed to ensure information is clear and consistent, and available in accessible formats. The NDIS online portal and tools will also be improved, to reduce the costs for providers and simplify their use. The new system will be piloted, before being rolled out across the country. PWDA said it was pleased to see the focus on face-to-face planning and the creation of consistent points of contact.

The changes showed the NDIA had listened to concerns that people with disability have consistently raised, the advocacy group said. The NDIA also announced it would place a stronger focus on connecting people with supports in the health, education and transport systems.

PWDA welcomed that approach. “Tailored reponses for children with disability, participants with psychosocial disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants and other diverse groups should include all aspects of a support pathway, and be integrated with other systems, as the NDIS in isolation will not enable them to get the most out of available supports,” it said.

“Lack of clarification in funding responsibility is currently leaving people confused about which system their supports are funded under, and gaps are occurring.”

Owen James, Grampians Disability Advocacy

This story Big overhaul for NDIS pathway first appeared on The Wimmera Mail-Times.