NDIS ‘failing most in need’
THE state’s first disability advocate has warned a growing group of intellectually disabled South Australians with little or no family support are falling through the gaps of a complicated National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“They are the most vulnerable (group) struggling with this new system … and that really worries me,” Dr David Caudrey told the Sunday Mail.
Dr Caudrey, of Grange, began official duties as the first State Disability Advocate six days ago for a one-year term.
“People with cognitive dis- abilities, in particular those without good family support, are struggling to understand how the scheme works, what their needs are, how to communicate those needs and understand the decisions that are made under the scheme,” he said.
The former Disability SA executive director expects more will face similar struggles under a “complex” system impacted by “ad hoc” customer service delivery while rollout continues.
Latest data shows about 21,000 South Australians have joined the NDIS since 2013. An estimated 11,000 are expecting to transition to final implementation – possibly later this year. Dr Caudrey, pictured, said the NDIS had the potential to be a “world-class system”. But work was needed to ensure all sectors of the disabled community were fairly serviced and supported.
He said it was important for the community and all tiers of government to understand the national scheme must be supported by good state-based health, education, public housing and welfare services.
“If the national scheme fails, it will inevitably affect the state,” he said. “I really want to hear what South Australians with disabilities and their families have to say about what is and isn’t working.”
Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said Dr Caudrey was appointed by the Liberal Government last year to identify and improve systemic issues resulting from disability reform, including the introduction of the NDIS.
“Along with my federal counterpart Paul Fletcher, I will continue to advocate for the best interests for people with a disability,” she said.
An NDIA spokeswoman said NDIS clients could nominate a family member, friend, carer, legal guardian or NDISfunded co-ordinator to assist with their plan.
Mr Caudrey’s comments come as the family of an autistic boy whose carer, Nischal Ghimire, drowned at Glenelg last month while looking after him have been offered a new NDIS package that will pay for two carers. The family had used its remaining NDIS money for two carers for Kevin Maghsoodi, 10, who has severe intellectual disabilities and is non-verbal. This money ran out on Friday, when the family was contacted and told they would receive a new six-month package, after initially being refused extra funds.
Dr Caudrey has spent the past 42 years working in disability and mental health sectors across Australia and the UK. Up until June last year, he was director of the State Government’s Disability Policy Unit, which saw the State Disability Inclusion Act pass. He was executive director for the Office for Ageing and CEO of Novita Children’s Services for 16 years. The Disability Advocate is part of the independent and statutory Office of the Public Advocate.