David Tune singing from departmental songsheet on NDIS timeframes, says QAI

23 January 2020

For immediate release

 

Leading disability advocacy organisation Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI) has slammed the report of David Tune’s review into the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act.

“The recommended timeframes are incredibly disappointing,” says QAI director Michelle O’Flynn.

“The major problem that many people with disabilities have with the current NDIS Act is that it doesn’t contain any meaningful timeframes that force the National Disability Insurance Agency to act in a timely manner,” says O’Flynn.

The NDIA sensationally admitted this month that 1200 Australians have died while enduring lengthy waits for NDIS packages. In its submission to the Tune review, QAI suggested that 28 days – with an option to extend – was long enough for most Agency decisions.

“David Tune’s report recommends timeframes for the NDIA to make particular decisions that are as long as 70 and 90 days in some cases. In our experience at QAI, those timeframes are much longer than current practice, where we generally see these decisions being made within four to six weeks.

“The risk is that the NDIA would interpret timeframes as long as 70 and 90 days as new, even lower standards. That would be a complete failure of the whole review process.”

O’Flynn says that the combined effect of these timeframse could mean that accessing the NDIS and having your first NDIS Plan approved could take up to 216 days – and that’s assuming no need for any internal reviews, external appeals or meetings to discuss the plan.

“That’s far, far too long for people who are wading through a bureaucratic nightmare to simply access much-needed disability supports,” O’Flynn says.

While O’Flynn acknowledges the federal government’s commitment to a “participant service guarantee” that would include timeframes, she says it’s still unclear as to whether the guarantee would be part of the legislation.

Other disappointing omissions from the Tune report are the lack of any recommendations to improve access to the NDIS scheme for non-citizens (including New Zealand citizens) and people over the age of 65, whose only choice in many cases is to access very minimal aged care supports.

“QAI held high hopes that this review would mean significant improvements in the operation of the NDIS, which is very, very important for people living with disabilities,” O’Flynn says. “When it responds to the review, we urge the government to really think about what these timeframes mean for people who just need support. After all, that’s the reason the NDIS exists.”

QAI is an independent, community-based system and individual advocacy organisation for people with disability in Queensland with over 30 years’ experience advocating for systems change, through campaigns directed at attitudinal, law and policy reform.

Contact: Michelle O’Flynn, Director, QAI

Phone: 0481 381 528; (07) 3844 4200