Mercury (Hobart)

NDIS wait times a step in the right direction

- CLAIRE BICKERS Federal Bureau Chief

TASMANIA’S wait times for children with a disability to get NDIS supports have almost halved in six months.

Children older than seven were waiting more than 100 days to get their first National Disability Insurance Scheme plan approved in 2018-19.

But the latest figures, over six months to December 31, show wait times have dropped to about 57 days for that age group.

However, wait times for newborns to six-year-olds with a disability in Tasmania dropped only slightly to 92 days from 102 days over the same period.

That’s about a month longer than the national average for younger children, which dropped to 63 days.

The average national wait times for children older than seven was three months.

People with Disability Australia chief executive Jeff Smith welcomed the drop in wait times across the country, but said the community was still raising concerns that the NDIS system was confusing, complex and wait times were too long.

“It’s fair to say the wait times are going in the right direction,” he said.

“But we really do need to supercharg­e the resources within the National Disability Insurance Agency and provide extra training for staff.”

NDIS Minister Stuart Robert praised the hard work by the NDIA to reduce wait times over the past six months, saying it was “reassuring to see this sustained progress”.

He said more work needed to be done, but the current national average wait times for children were already lower than those recommende­d in a major review released last month.

The report recommende­d that NDIS participan­ts across all ages should wait no longer than 70 days from having their access confirmed to having their first plan approved from July 1, and no more than 56 days from July 1 next year.

Opposition NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten said wait times were still too long across the country.

“After six years of neglecting the NDIS, it’s a bit rich for this government to crow that a severely disabled seven-yearold now has to wait more than 10 weeks to get on the NDIS,” he said.

“That child would then have to wait more time to get a plan approved, then face further delays to access goods or services under the Liberals’ management of the NDIS.”

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