House debates

Thursday, 1 August 2019


National Disability Insurance Scheme

4:53 pm

Photo of Steve GeorganasSteve Georganas (Adelaide, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to highlight an ongoing issue that is unfolding before our eyes, and that is the government's failure to address the ever-increasing concerns with the NDIS. While the government fails to act, this Morrison government's own figures reveal that Australians are languishing in limbo, waiting for care. It is quite clear from the inquiries that I have had in my electorate office and which many other members who I speak to in this place have also had that this government is failing to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

Today I'd like to highlight one of those cases, that of one of my constituents who is experiencing grave difficulties with the scheme. A woman by the name of Pauline has spoken to my office and has written to us concerned that her own experience with the NDIS has been far from perfect. Pauline has gone on to describe that despite being permanently wheelchair-bound and facing the challenges associated with that, in her endeavour to be as independent as possible she is burdened with the unknown at this point in time because of the NDIS. We're talking about not knowing if funding will be there in the future for her for the daily care that she depends on.

Pauline is another in the long line of constituents in the seat of Adelaide, across the state and across the country who are waiting on the results of internal funding reviews. In 2008, Pauline advised the NDIA of a shortfall in the amount of funding offered to her for personal care and home supports, which was approximately two-thirds of the previously state based level of funding—a shortfall without any explanation. Today, 1 August 2019, nearly a year later, Pauline finds herself with essentially five weeks until the end of her funding for critical daily assistance. In effect, as of 7 September 2019, Pauline is facing the unknown. As a high-needs NDIS participant who is wheelchair bound, Pauline has no other forms of care and is unable to transfer without two people assisting her. If daily assistance ceases, that means at its most basic she cannot get out of bed to get on with everyday things. She will perhaps not be able to cook and do a whole range of other things. She will require immediate hospitalisation or nursing home care if she deteriorates. Any autonomy that she would otherwise have will be lost if there is no answer by 7 September.

This is an example of the government's management of the scheme, and how it is failing the Australian population. While faced with this dilemma, Pauline has nothing but praise and a high regard for the staff of the NDIA, who have always been cordial and professional but are finding blocks in front of them because of this government. This government has ripped out $1.6 billion from the system, leaving people with disability, and those who care for them, without the crucial support that they require. Pauline's request for an urgent resolution of the NDIS funding shortfall has unfortunately fallen on deaf ears. The phone calls that we have made to ministers' officers and to the departments have fallen on deaf ears. That is not on.

Another of my constituents, Caroline, a single mother with four kids, has been determined in her attempts to care for a son who has autism spectrum some disorder while trying to negotiate her way through the NDIA review process. Her son is affected by the inappropriate level of care. Her entire household, including her three other children, is impacted by the delays with this very important review. They have been waiting for an outcome for months.

We are in the midst of this government deliberately underfunding the NDIS so they can prop up their budget position. Families such as Pauline's and Caroline's are severely impacted upon. We know that the effect of the underspend on the average NDIS participant is $20,000. Caroline's son's funding was reduced by $15,000. Sadly, Caroline and her family have been reduced to a statistic by this government, with no clear steps to remedy this very, very serious problem. This is not on. Time and time again, we are all getting these enquiries in our offices. Australians and their families deserve much better than the services currently provided by the Morrison government.