UnitingCare West (UCW) is supporting a National Day of Action on Friday 3 May

 

2 May 2019

UnitingCare West (UCW) is supporting a National Day of Action on Friday 3 May, as part of an ongoing, informed discussion to achieve a successful outcome for West Australians under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The Day of Action is part of the National Disability Services’ (NDS)  Deliver the Promise campaign.

In today’s copy of The West Australian, you can find an opinion piece (see below) by UCW’s Head of Service Operations, Michael Chester, calling on all sides of politics to prioritise the delivery of a well-functioning and cohesive NDIS for West Australians with disability.

Time to put the NDIS roll-out back on track

Regardless of which political party holds the balance of power after the Federal Election, urgent action must be taken to put the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) back on track.

UnitingCare West (UCW) strongly supports the NDIS and is committed to providing services under a well-functioning and cohesive scheme that delivers successful outcomes for people with disability. However, we see the enormous promise of the NDIS being undermined by inefficiencies, lack of resources and poor coordination.

Our experience at UCW tells us that existing participants and those who are potentially eligible for the NDIS are also deeply concerned about getting the NDIS back on track.

As such, we support open and frank discussion about the issues we face as a society in the vitally important goal of making the NDIS a success.   

When coupled with informed public debate, the campaign being spearheaded by the NDS to ‘Deliver the Promise’ of the NDIS can offer a constructive step towards finding solutions to the difficult problems we face.

In Western Australia, the slow progress of the roll-out has already caused significant distress for current and potential participants and their families. It is taking longer than expected for people to enter the scheme and longer again for them to receive the support they need.

The roll-out of the NDIS is well and truly behind schedule in WA and has not met the expectations outlined in the bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the State.

At 31 December 2018, only 55 per cent of WA NDIS participants had been enrolled in the scheme, well short of the 100 per cent target. This roughly equates to 4,000 Western Australians with disability failing to be enrolled on schedule, with no clear indication of when the target will be met.

Furthermore, while the rest of Australia is now in transition, many parts of WA will not even begin the process until 1 July 2019 – one year behind schedule.

In addition, the implementation of Local Area Coordinator roles is months behind schedule, due to the late awarding of Partners in the Community (PITC) contracts.

Despite our best efforts to support people to interpret and access services under their NDIS plan, the issues thwarting the roll-out mean that in many cases, people with disability remain in a state of limbo.

This is especially the case for people with very complex needs, particularly in the psychosocial space.

While some people with psychosocial needs are already accessing programs and services that will support their application to access the NDIS, there is another group of people who remain voiceless, unseen and unheard.

UCW walks alongside some of the most vulnerable people in our community - people experiencing homelessness, or exiting the justice system - many of whom are living with mental health issues or permanent cognitive impairment.

For this group of people, eligibility for NDIS funding is not a given. Building a case can be a long-term process that can only begin once trust has been established and relationships developed.

Our team is currently running a pilot project in Fremantle, identifying people with psychosocial issues who are disconnected from mainstream services and may be eligible for the NDIS. Tom (not his real name) has been living in social isolation for 20 years with an acquired brain injury, after suffering a stroke.

Our team is working with Tom to develop a body of evidence to support an NDIS application, taking him to medical appointments and seeking specialist advice. Unfortunately, our team hit a road block recently after a neurologist refused to provide an assessment because it had been 20 years since his injury occurred and rehabilitation was no longer an option. The potential for Tom to slip through the cracks is very real.

We believe it is not enough to achieve NDIS targets with those people who are already in the ‘system’. It is the voiceless, the people sleeping rough, or those living in temporary accommodation who we cannot afford to overlook if we want a fair and just NDIS.

To tackle the significant challenges we face in achieving a successful NDIS, we must continue a robust and constructive dialogue without fear, as the consequences of failure are too great.

Michael Chester

Head of Service Operations

UnitingCare West