Occupational therapists Asimina Peristeri and Laura Taylor highlighted several issues in the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) during the public hearing for the scheme’s inquiry.
Among the issues raised were:
- lengthy delays in processing applications for assistive technology (AT)
- plans not reflecting the actual needs of participants
- poor communication on the part of the NDIS
- gaps in service provision for particular client groups (eg. children)
Ms Peristeri said, “At present, there are lengthy delays in processing applications for assistive technology (AT). It can take a considerable amount of time for a participant’s plan to be developed, an occupational therapy assessment to be undertaken, and an item of AT to be approved. In the meantime, participants are left without key items of equipment and are prevented from achieving their goals. And in some cases, the AT is no longer required as a participant’s circumstances or functional capacity have changed.”
Ms Taylor spoke about the shortcomings of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) in terms of communication.
“Occupational therapists are becoming increasingly frustrated by the NDIA’s lack of communication, and the resulting need to constantly follow up on emails and phone calls. There is a lack of direct contact with Planners, which limits therapists’ ability to talk through interventions required and identify the urgency of an intervention or item of AT.
“A great deal of the time that occupational therapists spend consulting with clients and writing reports is not billable. This includes time spent arranging trials for AT and writing up detailed reports justifying each purchase.” Ms Taylor said.
The ACT Budget for 2018 – 19 has also been released. Details of the budget for the NDIS and disability services include:
- $137 million towards NDIS for this year (part of the $650 million contribution to the scheme for over four years)
- $1.8 million will go towards an Integrated Service Response program
- $1.1 million support people with complex needs who are not eligible for the NDIS
- $400,000 will be provided over two years for advocacy services to help NDIS participants navigate the scheme
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