The Sunday Times

Man­age­ment key to dis­abil­ity aid

- PETER VAN ONSE­LEN Peter van Onse­len is The Sun­day Times’ po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and a pro­fes­sor at UWA. University of Western Australia · Canberra · Partido Laborista Australiano · Bill Shorten · Stuart Robert

THIS week aca­demics at my univer­sity re­leased a com­pre­hen­sive white pa­per re­port on the per­for­mance of the Na­tional Dis­abil­ity In­sur­ance Scheme.

It doesn’t paint a pretty pic­ture.

The pa­per, com­piled by foren­sic ac­coun­tants and ex­perts in pub­lic pol­icy de­liv­ery within the UWA business school, ex­am­ines more than 60 re­ports look­ing into the per­for­mance of the NDIS which have been com­mis­sioned and re­leased since its roll­out in 2013.

The in­de­pen­dent White

Pa­per con­cludes that those re­ly­ing on the scheme aren’t re­ceiv­ing any­where near best prac­tice care. These find­ings have been echoed in par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee hear­ings in Can­berra this week, where users of the NDIS have ex­pressed their frus­tra­tion.

The good news is no more money is needed to fix the prob­lems. Bet­ter man­age­ment co-or­di­na­tion and stream­lin­ing of ser­vices for dis­abled Aus­tralians would go a long way to­wards fix­ing the sham­bles re­vealed.

Lead au­thor, Pro­fes­sor David Gilchrist, told me he’d give the per­for­mance of the NDIS a D, even if the idea of of­fer­ing such sup­port for the dis­abled is A+. Grad­ing the scheme with a D is a long way from good enough.

Of course the A+ idea was orig­i­nally La­bor’s. Bill Shorten cham­pi­oned such a scheme long be­fore he was even a min­is­ter in the pre­vi­ous La­bor gov­ern­ment. At the time the great­est worry was that all the virtue in the world wouldn’t hide the fis­cal enor­mity of what he was sug­gest­ing. At a time when na­tional debt was on the rise.

Fast for­ward to today and the price tag isn’t the prob­lem. As with so much that gov­ern­ment does, the prob­lem is mis­man­age­ment of re­sources al­ready be­ing al­lo­cated.

Cyn­ics worry that the Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment is happy to un­der­spend on the NDIS be­cause do­ing so helps it meet its sur­plus goal. At the mo­ment more than $4 bil­lion bud­geted to be spent on the NDIS sim­ply isn’t be­ing used. Even the new Min­is­ter, Stu­art Robert, ad­mits the scheme is only 80 per cent of the way to­wards where it needs to be for good func­tion­al­ity.

This new White Pa­per sug­gests a self-graded 80 per cent by the Min­is­ter might be an op­ti­mistic as­sess­ment.

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