NDIS ‘fail­ing most in need’

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - RE­BECCA DIGIROLAMO

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.

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