National disability insurance scheme complaints reach record level | Australia news
Delays with the national disability insurance scheme are continuing to drive record numbers of complaints about the reform, new figures show.
The latest report on the NDIS, released on Tuesday, shows 4,146 complaints were made to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) in the three months to the end of March.
the 3,880 complaints received last quarter when numbers were artificially inflated by the manual entry of earlier data. The number of complaints in the two quarters prior was 2,961 and 1,669 respectively.
By far the most common frustration was with timeliness. Delays accounted for 37% of participant complaints about the NDIA, well above previous levels (28%).
Since its inception, 17,352 complaints have been made about the NDIS, the equivalent of roughly one complaint for every 10 participants with approved plans.
“The NDIA is concerned about the level of complaints it has received,” the report said. “The challenges experienced in implementing the scheme are recognised and work is proceeding on the participant and provider pathway review to address the issues that underlie the complaints.”
The nature of the complaints is likely to enliven criticism of the government’s staffing cap on the NDIA. Critics say the cap has hampered the agency’s ability to effectively and efficiently implement the scheme.
Earlier this month, a damning ombudsman’s report found people were waiting up to nine months for a review after complaining of errors or inadequacies with their support plan. Some were waiting months for a simple callback from the NDIA, the ombudsman found.
Tuesday’s report also shows alarming gaps affecting those who are already receiving state and territory disability support services. About 2,430 of those already receiving support did not meet NDIS access criteria. Another 13,625 could either not be reached, rejected an opportunity to enter the scheme, or withdrew their request for NDIS support.
Advocacy groups have long warned that such individuals could be left without support, as state and territory governments withdraw services in the expectation they will be replaced by the NDIS.
In a statement the NDIA chief executive, Robert De Luca, said: “The NDIA will continue to proactively work with the states and territory governments to bring eligible people into the NDIS in future quarters.”
More broadly, the report shows about 160,000 people are receiving support through the NDIS, including 151,970 people with approved plans and 10,253 children receiving early intervention services.
About 45,000 had not previously received any government-funded support.
“These figures show that under the NDIS, more and more Australians with disability are receiving better and more effective support and assistance than ever have before,” De Luca said.
Satisfaction with the planning process – when an individual’s support needs are determined and funded – remained steady, with 84% rating it as good or very good.
De Luca said the scheme was having a positive impact. About 90% of parents or carers with young children said the scheme had helped with their child’s development and access to school services. About three-quarters of those aged 25 and over said the NDIS had helped them with daily living activities.
“These strong outcomes demonstrate the NDIS is already delivering on its goals to increase Australians with disability’s independence and participation in the community,” De Luca said.