Tuesday, 22 June 2021
National Disability Insurance Scheme: Transport, Paige, Ms Scarlett
Bill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
I'd like to speak today about a constituent of mine who lives in Moonee Ponds. Scarlett Paige is her name. She has epilepsy. She's a participant in the NDIS. She's had her essential transport removed, with no warning, by the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Scarlett is not able to drive, and her approved NDIS plan includes transport. This transport was to allow Scarlett to go safely to and from hospital, to her medical appointments, and to her job and to see her family and friends. The transport in her approved NDIS plan gave Scarlett the independence to get around safely without having to rely on lifts. The funding was paid for out of Scarlett's NDIS approved package. The total package would be barely $10,000, and a portion of it is allocated to transport. She's been using the NDIS-registered providers South West Community Transport since 2019.
So, she's got the funding and it's changing her life. She's represented Australia overseas. She's got pretty significant epilepsy, but she's holding down a job. She is a poster-person for what the NDIS can do, for a very small package. So you can only imagine Scarlett's shock and horror when she received an email from the transport provider advising her that she could no longer claim the transport because the NDIA had removed this form of transport as a line item from the packages. This is the email Scarlett received from South West Community Transport on 16 April 2021: 'We'—South West Community Transport—'have recently been advised by the NDIA that the social community and civic participation temporary transport line item has now been removed from the NDIS portal, which allowed us to claim your ongoing transport services. This occurred without our knowledge on 28 February 2021. As a result, we're carrying an outstanding amount accrued by you.' South West Community Transport provided transport to over 230 approved NDIS clients, one of whom was Scarlett. Scarlett is still without transport and, instead of just reinstating her transport, her local area coordinator, who was trying to help her, suggested Scarlett find the funds to pay for it herself, and then the NDIA might reimburse her. So she needs to reapply for transport funding, all because a line item was changed and no-one was told.
While Scarlett is without transport, South West Community Transport has been left with a bill of over $100,000 that the NDIA refuses to pay. I've also been contacted by the aforesaid transport business, who are desperate to find some answers as to how they could have been left with a massive bill for clients who had approved transport services. This is core funding for people like Scarlett. The NDIS is under attack by the Morrison government. Every time a coalition MP wants to preen their feathers and say what a good job they've done, I have got an example for every minute of every day of how the NDIA is mismanaging it. Perhaps what the parliamentarians should do is stand up for the people rather than defend an agency which is making all the wrong decisions.