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Disability, Medical Health Aged Care

NDIS Administration a Disrespect to All Good Providers; Risking the Lives, Services and Stress of Homelessness for Participants

Australian Communities and Mr River Night 6 mins read
Mr River Night - National Disability Sector Advocate

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Mr River Night 

 

Leading National Disability Sector Advocate

Co-founder at Developing Australian Communities 

 

Public Officer at the National Disability Leadership Organisation

Mr Night is physically located in Brisbane this week and is available to travel.

 

Mr Night is an adult Living with Disability, a National Disability Sector Advocate, carer, father and outspoken supporter for reform and improvements in the Disability and NDIS sector with a 30+ year career working across Disability, Youth Justice, Guardianship, Child Safety, Education, TAFE, Aged Care, Forensics Disability and Mental Health sectors.

 

While we hear ongoing discussions about legislative change and cost blowouts, an over emphasis on the small number of providers that are rorting the system, Ms Fran Cloney, Operations Manager of leading provider Australian Communities, today has called for an urgent over-hall of simple processes that are putting participants and providers at risk for no reason other than what looks like simple systemic errors by NDIS.

 

“Today marks over 2.5 weeks since one participant we support could access the funds in their new and ‘approved’ plan to receive supports. The participant, their mother and guardian and us as a  provider, have been escalating this for weeks now after NDIS simply didn’t bother with an actual NDIS plan review and ‘automatically’ created a new plan without any communication and ‘forgot’ to switch on the funding for a man that is receiving 24 hour support with complex needs. Today still as we struggle to manage payroll, pay rent on the house, meet our obligations and continue supporting the participant, the NDIS response to this urgent issue is to say ‘someone will get in contact’, said Ms Cloney. 

 

“100 percent of the participants we support have experienced NDIS administration mistakes that have put their services at risk more than once. 

 

“This isn't political. We love what Mr Shorten is doing and we hear so much is happening, but the basics are what is causing harm to participants and good providers and we aren't seeing this actioned with the urgency it needs. Surely they can't address rorting when the administration seems so disorganised. If Labor continues to fix this or another party comes to power, administration processes are an internal agency issue and one that the agency has to urgently address regardless of politics, commissions, reviews and legislation. 

 

“In situations where a small error in the plan process results in weeks of delay in funds for someone in 24 hour support, with complex needs, we are always told that the NDIS Planner is the only one that can fix their mistake, but as usual in this new, dehumanised version of the scheme, we are not allowed to simply have the planners email or number. We have to sit and pray we are able to afford to continue supporting a participant with no funding. This is not a case of running out of funds and needing more. This is a case of NDIS simply making an error and forgetting to set up a new plan correctly to prevent any disruption.

 

“Parents I work with were today explaining that without good providers they would be lost”. 

 

“Using providers as a bank because NDIS now takes months to process simple funding errors is not ok”.

 

“Too often we keep seeing participants that have received funded supports for years, where there is no argument about what funding they get and NDIS has no issue or interest in cutting funds, be thrown into the stress of losing services because this time around NDIS just forgets to switch the plan on properly. It seems to be happening more now and I suspect it is because we don’t see the human touch of checks and balances. 

 

“Last year we had to cease services for a participant we had supported for years, who we had established great staff for and an amazing and dedicated 24 hour team, after NDIS made another mistake and did not process the annual plan on time. Once we got to the level of delivering $45 000 in supports that NDIS could not process, because they made a mistake and could only say ‘we will get back to you eventually’, we had to place this participant in a terrible situation and stop sending staff because we couldn't afford to float NDIS $45 000 in payroll expenses with no response from the agency. We told them and emailed the Minister directly many times saying that unless they fixed their simple administration error this poor person would end up without supports, potentially in hospital for no reason, but still no urgency or care it seems after months from NDIS. 

 

Leading National Disability Sector Advocate Mr River Night today said, that “it is a kick in the teeth for good providers when NDIS cannot fix simple errors they make in a timely way that place providers in massive financial risk and cause participants to face homelessness and a break down of supports”. 

 

"We cant keep going to the Minister each time the NDIS delegates make administration errors and cause a participant unnecessary grief and put them at risk of homelessness. The Minister has too much to do and is busy enough. 

 

“I saw a case last year where man that received 24/7 funded supported could not access funds for 8 weeks due to a NDIS administration error. The provider continued supporting the man and floated the payroll expense for NDIS but then NDIS said they would not pay that bill. Even though it was for usual services that were approved and the issue had nothing to do with approved funds and was simply an admin error. The provider was placed under inappropriate stress. Again, after escalating the matter the NDIS apologised and processed the funds that were reasonable and necessary. This sort of behaviour places participants at risk as some providers simply wont take the risk and will just pull out immediately leaving the participant high and dry because they are loosing faith in NDIS and their ability to process things in a timely way”, said Mr Night.

 

“Another participant we support had a new plan created 9th of May, almost 2 month ago and NDIS  just ‘rolled it over’ but they forgot to tell anyone and forgot to put the funds in the plan so the participant was put at risk of losing access to established and usual, funded 24/7 supports for complex care that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, because they couldn’t fix the error quickly”, said Mr Cloney

 

“New plans should now be done through the new PACE system but for some reason theirs were not, and the last 2 months we have had to raise complaints, escalate payment requests and act as the NDIS’s bank while we ensured the participant didn’t suffer. This, all for participants that are on budget, where there are no contentious issues or matters regarding funds, no over spending and everything is perfectly fine. I can only imagine what it would be like to have this experience for 50 participants all at once or where there are arguments about funds. 

 

“If NDIS can’t get it right when there is no controversy or argument, how on earth are they managing fraud, rorting or real cases that require timely attention”.

 

“What make this so frustrating is that it wastes provider time and resources to fix something that should not need sorting. It means wasted time and pressure on Guardian's and participants and it means I have to consider what to do if it takes too long to fix and we have to cease services to participants that cannot live without staff support and they end up facing a social work administration in hospital for no reason other than NDIS administration mistakes and fixes that take too long”. 

 

“It would be nice if I could just call someone that knew what they were talking about that I could simply connect with at NDIS, as each time it is a different person and they know next to nothing. They seem to have a huge back log and little capacity for technical support when NDIS make errors that could be fixed in 5 minutes and would be under the old way we did things just a few years ago”.  

 

“We recently had a third participant that had a new plan magically appear without communication with anyone and again NDIS forgot to ‘switch it on’ but this time it was through the new PACE system and again required us to contact NDIS for weeks, raise issues, make complaints and escalate things with the payments team again because we simply could just pick up the phone and talk to the planner and ask them to fix their small mistake that could result in massive trauma and life upheaval. 

 

“While we constantly see examples of the NDIS not being able to manage basic administration, it is a testament to good providers that try to act as the bank of NDIS, maintain services to vulnerable participants that could cost $10 000 a week or more at times. These issues can draw on for months now because of the faceless approach NDIS is taking and the reality is many providers cant carry tens of thousands of dollars regularly for the NDIS and should never have to”, said Mr Night. 

 

“If I could ask Bill Shorten and our leaders to fix one simple thing to support the 600 000 plus people accessing NDIS and their providers, it would be would be to streamline processes but ultimately we need to be able to pick up the phone and talk to the planner, not multiple levels of escalation with unmanageable time frames. It is ridiculous how long it takes NDIS to get back to me on urgent issues like this and it is hurting our most vulnerable”, said Ms Cloney today. 

 


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