NDIA accepts recommendations to speed up plan review process

NDIA accepts recommendations to speed up plan review process
Posted on Mon 21 May 2018

If you are among the thousands of people who have been waiting for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to review your plan, you will be heartened by its response to a recent report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman revealed that up to 8,000 people were waiting for an outcome in relation to their National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan. It said, delays "pose a particular risk to those who may be at risk of losing services or experiencing deterioration in their capacity if their plan is not adjusted quickly.” It made 20 recommendations that have been accepted by the NDIA.

In a statement the NDIA said it “has started determining the most practical way to implement responses”. It has also established a dedicated team to manage outstanding reviews.

"The NDIS is a world-first reform, the size and scale of which means the scheme will not be without challenges," the statement said.

The CEO of Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA), Rob White, welcomes the Ombudsman’s report and the quick response by the NDIA to take action to implement the 20 recommendations.

“It is terrific that the concerns raised by people with a disability and their parents and carers have been investigated by the Ombudsman,” he says. “I’m also encouraged by the NDIA’s willingness to review and refine the processes in order to ensure the NDIS works more effectively and delivers supports and services required by people with a disability to live their best life possible.”  

Review processes lack transparency

The investigation of the NDIA review system came in response to the Ombudsman receiving 400 complaints about the NDIA review processes over the 18 months to January 2018. In its report it revealed people with disabilities are facing delays of up to nine months when they attempt to have their NDIS plans fixed.

People were seeking reviews for reasons such as when their plan included wrong or inadequate equipment and support or they had received funding for fewer hours of care than needed. The main complaints concerned:

•  The NDIA not prioritising urgent cases where, for example, people could be at risk of harm or homelessness

•  NDIA staff and contractors discouraging people from seeking a review

•  The NDIA not acknowledging requests for review or responding to enquiries.

The Ombudsman described the review processes as "unwieldy", "unapproachable" and lacking "fairness and transparency".

It proposed the problem was due to a lack of resourcing, competing priorities and pressure on the NDIA to meet its roll out targets. The office of the Ombudsman will continue to monitor the implementation of the 20 recommendations in the report.

In a blog posted on the CPA website in December, a Newcastle mother talked about the frustration she had encountered in order to have her daughter’s plan reviewed when funding had been drastically cut.

CPA assists Penny with plan review

In the blog, Penny says, “When I saw the new plan I felt like we were being screwed down.” She asked for a plan review in August 2017 and sought assistance from CPA staff. The review request paperwork was lodged and when nothing happened, Penny made a series of phone calls, escalating her situation to the office of her local member.

“Go to your local MP,” Penny says. “It worked. I went into the NDIA for another interview and we talked it through. The Cerebral Palsy Alliance staff supplied quotes on supports including a special chair Isabella needs so she can learn to dress herself and a special knife and fork to assist her to feed herself.”

Just before Christmas the NDIA allocated around $11,400 for Isabella's new plan.

"It was worthwhile protesting the original decision in order to get this increase," Penny says. "The new plan didn't allocate money for the special seat but it allowed me to buy special knives and forks so Isabella can feed herself. There is also funding for appointments with a physiotherapist, occupational therapist and psychologist. It was a drawn out and frustrating process but I feel better about the outcome."

Go here to read about Penny’s struggle to get the correct plan for her daughter.

Go here to read the ABC news article on the Ombudsman’s report.

Go here for a statement from the Ombudsman and a link to the full report. 

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CPA has collaborated with NCCD to produce a podcast about classroom adjustments for students with cerebral palsy, including discussions with experts, parents and students.