Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Questions without Notice
Danher, Mr Liam
My question is for the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Senator Reynolds. I refer to reports of the tragic death of 23-year-old Liam Danher, who died waiting for a seizure mat. The NDIS repeatedly rejected Liam's request for a seizure mat over the course of an 18-month long AAT battle. His family say a $445 seizure mat would have saved his life. Why was Liam's seizure mat rejected? How many thousands of taxpayer dollars did the Morrison government spend on legal advice and lawyers to deny Liam his $445 seizure mat?
I thank the senator for that question. That is a very tragic case, and I have been in contact with Liam's father, who I will be meeting at his convenience. I am still seeking further information on his case. It is complex. The trustee is also involved. So I'm in the process of getting further information. In the first instance I can discuss the matter with his father and then provide more information, as it is appropriate to do in individual cases.
Could you answer the question about what you spent in legal costs? The seizure mat Liam Danher died waiting for was recommended by three different allied health professionals, a neurologist and an independent assessor, as I'm sure you're aware if you've spoken with Liam's father. Why then did the National Disability Insurance Agency still deny Liam the support he needed?
I'll have to take on notice the legal costs, but I will get back to you as soon as I can. If I could, can I reiterate my condolences to Mr Danher's family. Any death of a child is always tragic. As I've said, I've offered to meet, and I've been in touch with, his father, and I'm seeking some more information for him, which I will meet in person to pass on to him. I understand that Liam did receive support from the NDIS from 9 May 2019 until 5 February 2021, but at this stage I'm unable to provide any further advice.
As you say, Minister, the death of any child is tragic. This was an avoidable death if he had received the support. Why did the National Disability Insurance Agency contact the grieving Danher family requesting urgent quotes for the very seizure mat that would have saved their son Liam's life a week after his death? You've contacted the father, Mr Danher. Did you apologise when you contacted him? If yes, when did you do that—in that phone call? If not, why haven't you apologised?
I did just apologise. Just to be clear, my office has contacted—of course, absolutely I apologised. Any death of any child is—
Senator Kitching interjecting—
If you let me finish, I'd be happy to answer the question.
I'd like to know, because it was unclear, whether Senator Reynolds is apologising now to the Danher family or, as my question stated, was it in the phone call with Mr—
Senator Kitching, the minister's been speaking for 10 seconds. I can't allow you to re-ask part of the question. You can raise a point of order on direct relevance. At this point I think the minister was being directly relevant. There's an opportunity to debate it after question time. Senator Reynolds.
As I said, I'm not able to discuss the details of this case any further. The NDIA chief legal counsel is currently reviewing the case and will be providing a report on that. My office has been in touch with Mr Danher, who is currently relocating, and I will be meeting with him at his convenience.