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Delays to the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are more than likely.



Delays to the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are more than likely.

A Federal Government review released last month has raised doubts about the timeline currently in place to roll out the NDIS. The review found ‘significant problems’ with the Agency set up to run it.

However, John Della Bosca, Every Australian Counts Campaign Director said: “I hope this report is not used by some commentators to argue delaying the NDIS. The scheme is already taking over seven years to rollout.

“Rolling out the NDIS is a big job, but it’s hardly sending someone to the moon and it should not take a decade to deliver.

“As damning as this report is on the Agency, it is nowhere near as damning as the Productivity Commission’s report on the current disability system.

“The starting point for any conversation about the NDIS has to be focussed on the real crisis. People with disability are currently denied access to participate in our community and economy. They are treated as second class citizens. The NDIS aims to address this national injustice.

“Australians want an NDIS that works. We need to take the time to get the NDIS right.

“We must also acknowledge that every delay in rolling out the NDIS means Australians with disability and their families will struggle without the supports they desperately need.”

The Federal Government review of the Agency set up to run the NDIS, the Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), has likened it to ‘a plane that took off before it had been fully built and is being completed while it is in the air’.

The review has listed ‘a large number of significant problems’ with the NDIA, including a ‘weaker’ capability and ‘less developed’ processes caused by a decision to bring forward the scheme’s start date by a year.

“There is also a lack of clear guidance for staff on the way the scheme operates, including eligibility and reasonable and necessary support,” the review found.

It found the earlier start date meant “all effort” was on working towards the trial phase and “insufficient effort was devoted to preparation for the next phases of the rollout”.

“As a result there are some challenges emerging,” it says, adding “the biggest challenge of all is over the horizon”.

“There are also major pieces of work to be done on service provider development, workforce availability, housing, mental health, market regulation and design.”

The minister charged with the NDIS, Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield, told the Senate it makes for sobering reading.

“The review makes clear that the Agency’s foundations need significant work in order to deliver and sustain the full NDIS,” he said.

Senator Fifield's comments echo previous statements from senior Coalition figures that indicate the national start date of 2018-19 could be pushed back.

When it is fully operational the NDIS is slated to cost the Commonwealth $8 billion a year, paid in part by an increase to the Medicare levy.

It is being trialled in four areas: Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria’s Barwon region and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.

The NDIS is designed to cater for the individual needs of more than 400,000 people with significant and permanent disability.

The peak body for non-government services in the sector, National Disability Services (NDS), says the review must not be used to delay the rollout.

“The NDIS is eight months into a six-year marathon,” NDS chief executive Ken Baker said.

“We’ve exerted a lot of effort and ingenuity to get this far so quickly – it’s too early to decide that the road ahead is too steep.”