‘On verge of breakdown’ over NDIS support
ALMOST half the applicants to the NDIS had to wait three months or more just to have their first meeting with the agency - even after the had been approved, a shocking report found.
One Queenslander told the Tune Review they were "on the verge of mental and emotional breakdown" from the stress of dealing with the National Disability Insurance Agency.
In another example, a carer for an NDIS participant from regional Queensland still hadn't had a case worker assigned to them five and a half months after being approved to access the scheme.
The Tune report handed down 29 recommendations, including that a 10-week time frame be set for participants to get their first plan and an NDIS Service Guarantee be created to cut waiting times for plan reviews.
NDIS Minister Stuart Robert has yet to outline what the government's full response will be, but committed to having the service guarantee enshrined in law by July 1.
Sunshine Coast-based Paralympian Marayke Jonkers, who requires a custom wheelchair, has been stuck in bed in Brisbane for almost a month after her chair broke despite her requesting a new one from the NDIS in February.
The NDIS did not respond to her until last week after she went public with her story, but it could be months more before a new chair can be built due to complex customisation required.
Ms Jonkers said if the report's recommendations had been in place in February her situation would have been avoided.
"Needing a wheelchair is not a tragedy. Needing a wheelchair and not being able to access one because of a bureaucratic system is," she said.
She said plans set out by the NDIS for people with disabilities were so convoluted that most participants struggled to understand them.
"I have two university degrees and an honorary degree, I've run my own small business and consulted with the Queensland Government … you would think I would be able to navigate this system," Ms Jonkers said.
She urged the government to involved people with disabilities in implementing the recommendations and to address the market gap for customised equipment.
Single Mum Toni Mitchell said she had been fighting for three years to access adequate help from the National Disability Insurance Scheme for her son Joshy, 19, who has multiple disabilities, including Down Syndrome.
"It's exhausting, absolutely exhausting," she said.
"I think it's great that the NDIS exists. I think it has enormous potential but it's still very, very flawed."
She said the Tune review did not go far enough and called for more work to be done to improve the quality of the NDIS staff.