Tuesday, 15 October 2019
Thank you Speaker.
Well just recently I was very pleased to host a NDIS forum in my electorate of Kingston along with the Shadow Federal Minister and Shadow State Minister and at this forum we allowed community members to express their concerns they have with the operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We had over 100 participants, families, carers and advocates attend to bravely share their concerns and experiences and indeed we had a wait-list as the venue was not big enough to hold everyone.
Now the NDIS came with such a promise to those living with a disability, their families and carers. It has been extremely difficult to watch this Liberal Government’s mismanagement of the scheme that was designed to improve the lives of people with a disability and their families. I have heard so many heartbreaking stories of people with a disability and their families being let down by the system. I have had almost 550 people contact me about the NDIS in the last few years alone.
Many of these people have been families with children with a disability or delay. They tell me that their kids are being left behind. Families are telling me their children are unable to access adequate support or early intervention crucial to their development.
Hayley and Chris from Aberfoyle Park have a son with a learning disability who is in the bottom 2% of his class. They say that even though he has a severe learning disability they have been told it is not severe enough for him to receive support from the NDIS.
Others are telling me that when their children do receive support their plans are inconsistent with their needs, and at times supports and therapy simply aren’t available.
Sonia from Huntfield Heights has a 10 year old son with level 3 austism she says his plan included allocated funds where they were not needed. She said they’d been waiting 12 months to see a psychologist, leaving her son without proper access to the therapy he actually needed because it’s psychological intervention that he actually needs.
She said, “As a single parent with a son who has major episodes which is hard to control we need more services to fulfil the plan. I live in poverty and my son is bullied at school. We need more support.”
We are missing crucial opportunities to improve the lives of children with these needs.
Michelle from Hallett Cove has a 3 year old son with global developmental delay. She is currently waiting to have a planning meeting to get him support and feel completely unsupported herself.
She said, “I’ve never been given any information or worksheets to help me navigate the process I need to go through. I feel totally unsupported, I’m just trying child the early intervention help so that he doesn’t fall further behind.”
Sadly the distress Michelle is experiencing with the long delays is not unique. This is devastating for families who watch their child’s potential slip away between their fingers. Many parents waiting for access to early intervention express their anguish that their child has to wait for supports, they missed important opportunities and milestones for therapies and supports to have success in improving their conditions.
My first contact with Kate from Sheidow Park was in early 2018 when she contacted my office out of desperation after waiting months and months for her son to get his first planning meeting under early intervention. The system is broken when a family with the toddler with a developmental delay has to come to their Federal Member of Parliament to get access to supports that he so desperately needs.
Parents are telling me they have to fight for their children to access therapy, even those who have been deemed necessary by medical professionals. For Kate, the story doesn’t end there. Her son is now 4 and non-verbal. Kate says the family’s general practitioner said he needed a particular therapy. Despite this recommendation from the doctor, Kate says the decision whether he could access this therapy through the NDIS sat with someone who did not have any relevant qualifications.
Now, this is at the same time we are hearing that the Morrison Government’s 2018-19 Budget is banking $4.6 billion of under-spend in the NDIS with the argument being that need is being met. Well I can tell you from my experience from listening to those in our community need is not being met, that families are being denied the supports they need. They are having to wait longer and longer and just cannot understand how to navigate this system. It is time the Government fixes this system.
The NDIS has the promise to support people with disabilities and it is time the Government fulfilled this promise to families.