Merg­ing to sur­vive 2-year NDIS de­lays

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - MARTINA SIMOS

“I ad­vo­cated for it very strongly but I be­lieve there are lots of peo­ple out there who don’t have the nec­es­sary ad­vo­cacy skills who are in a worse po­si­tion,’’ she said.

Even though new debt is ac­cu­mu­lated ev­ery week and it is “tempt­ing” to dereg­is­ter as a NDIS ser­vice provider, Ms Bleby says her busi­ness of­fers much-needed ser­vices and dereg­is­ter­ing is not an op­tion.

One ma­jor not-for-profit ser­vice provider re­ports it has $10 mil­lion less rev­enue than two years ago and has been forced to cut back staff.

Novita Chil­dren’s Ser­vices chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Greg Ward says it has laid off 60 peo­ple in the past six months.

He says while it’s not di­rectly re­lated to NDIA latepay­ment is­sues, Novita has had to change its op­er­at­ing struc­ture. “It’s largely in re­sponse to the fact that the NDIS has changed, Mr Ward said. “We’ve had to change our op­er­at­ing mod­els – so we have to change our over­head costs and that’s largely what’s driven that re­struc­tur­ing.

“The other driver is as the costs of try­ing to trans­act with the NDIS go up, we have to try to make other sav­ings else­where, so it has a di­verse ef­fect of in­creas­ing some of our em­ploy­ment costs to deal with ad­min­is­tra­tive bids. We have to try to re­duce our costs else­where. CORA Bar­clay Cen­tre has ex­pe­ri­enced NDIS pay­ment de­lays of up to two years – at a cost of $1.6 mil­lion – forc­ing the cen­tre to look for other ways to sur­vive, its gen­eral man­ager Amanda Haskard says.

One of South Aus­tralia’s old­est ser­vice providers for chil­dren who are deaf or hear­ing-im­paired, it is now in the process of merg­ing with a na­tional chil­dren’s char­ity Can:Do 4Kids.

The Cora Bar­clay Cen­tre board made the move al­most a year ago, cit­ing late pay­ment by the Na­tional Dis­abil­ity In­sur­ance Agency for ser­vices pro­vided, es­pe­cially for early in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices for chil­dren.

Ms Haskard says that in 2017 the board cal­cu­lated the cen­tre would likely run out of money by Oc­to­ber 2019 if a sus­tain­able plan was not de­vel­oped. It be­gan talks with like-minded part­ners be­fore agree­ing to work with Can:Do 4Kids.

“We re­fused to drop ser­vices to chil­dren be­cause we

“Our rev­enue has been re­duced. We are get­ting $10 mil­lion less than we were two years ago.’’

Angli­care SA’s head of dis­abil­ity and men­tal health ser­vices Kate Rush, says the not­for-profit group says de­layed NDIS pay­ments and plan re­newals are af­fect­ing only about 10 of their 400 clients at any given time.

An NDIA spokesper­son says the ma­jor­ity of ac­cu­rate and com­plete pay­ment claims weren’t get­ting the fund­ing re­quired through NDIS,’’ Ms Haskard said.

“We’ve suf­fered and chil­dren who have hear­ing losses suf­fered from poor fund­ing ar­range­ments and some poor re­fer­ral ar­range­ment ser­vices and it has sig­nif­i­cantly im­pacted our sec­tor.’’

Ms Haskard says de­lays in NDIA pay­ments have af­fected a gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren with hear­ing loss.

“It’s been five years we had to wear this,” she said.

She says NDIA has re­cently fixed prob­lems with its pay­ment sys­tem but it had come too late for the Cora Bar­clay Cen­tre.

The pro­posed merger, ex­pected by the end of the year, will still pro­vide the com­mu­nity a breadth of choice of ser­vices, Ms Haskard says.

Naomi Jenk­ins, mum to Macken­zie, 1, and In­di­anna, 3, brings her chil­dren to Cora Bar­clay Cen­tre once a week and wel­comes the merger: She said: “I’m happy with it as it is clear that the Cora Bar­clay Cen­tre will con­tinue to do what is in the best in­ter­est of chil­dren and their fam­i­lies.’’ made through the por­tal are “suc­cess­fully pro­cessed within five work­ing days’’.

“NDIA has also es­tab­lished a ded­i­cated Na­tional Provider Pay­ment Team (NPPT) as a sin­gle point of con­tact for providers, to an­a­lyse and re­me­di­ate pay­ment is­sues,’’ the spokesper­son said.

Pic­ture: MIKE BUR­TON

IM­PACT: Naomi Jenk­ins with her daugh­ters In­di­anna and Macken­zie and Cora Bar­clay Cen­tre boss Amanda Haskard.

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