NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NDIS News : 1. Aboriginal people with disabilities and their families need our support and 2. the Ombudsman releases report into the National Disability Insurance Agency’s handling of reviews

 ” In 2014 the Australian government commenced rolling out the NDIS. But Aboriginal participation in the new scheme remains unacceptably low.

This means that despite increases in the funding available, there is a real danger that without culturally appropriate services, supports and pathways the Aboriginal community will not get access to all of the opportunities that the NDIS represents.

Daily our mob lives with the impacts of disability more than any other section of the Australian population: almost half of our Indigenous population aged 15 years and over live with disability or a restrictive long-term health condition and experience disability at more than twice the rate of the general Australian population which increases further with the inclusion of psychosocial disability (mental health).

We need solutions to ensure that all Aboriginal people and their families have access to quality disability services that respect their culture and meet their needs.”

Joseph Archibald is a Gamilario man living on Birpai country mid-north NSW coast. He is manager of Windaan Aboriginal Services. Joseph has worked in the disability sector across areas including sector capacity building for Aboriginal engagement and Aboriginal employment and workforce strategy with industry peak National Disability Services (NDS) and NDIS service development with Galambila Aboriginal Health Service

Read over 20 recent NACCHO Aboriginal Health and NDIS articles HERE

Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe today released a report into the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) handling of reviews of decisions under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 highlighting complaints and stakeholder feedback including significant backlogs, delays in decision making and poor communication practices.”

In releasing the report, Mr Manthorpe acknowledged the considerable pressure the NDIA has been under to meet bilateral targets since the national rollout of the NDIS, which began in July 2016.

Download a copy of report Here

Report-on-NDIA-administration-of-reviews-under-the-Act_1

However, the Ombudsman stressed this must not be used as a reason to deprioritise or delay other work, including reviews.

“It is clear from this report there are a number of areas in which the NDIA can, and should improve its administration of participant-initiated reviews. Without significant efforts to improve the timeliness of its approach and its communication with participants, there remains a risk that participants’ rights to review will be challenged and the review process will continue to be unwieldy, unapproachable and the driver of complaint volumes” Mr Manthorpe said.

Since mid-2016, complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman about the NDIA’s review process have represented around 32 per cent of all NDIA complaints.

The report makes 20 recommendations aimed at improving the NDIA’s administration of reviews, all of which were accepted by the NDIA. The Ombudsman’s Office will continue to monitor the implementation of the recommendations in the report, which is available at:

Media Part 2

People with disabilities are facing delays of up to nine months when they attempt to have their bungled National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plans fixed, an investigation has found.

From the ABC Report

Key points:

  • NDIS participants seek reviews when their plan does not fit with their needs, for example if they receive funding for fewer hours of care than needed
  • Ombudsman’s report found up to 8,000 people are still waiting for an outcome on their reviews
  • Agency accepted finding that it was not prioritising urgent cases, where people could be at risk of harm or homelessness

People seek reviews for many reasons, including when their plan includes wrong or inadequate equipment and support, for example if they receive funding for fewer hours of care than needed.

“[Delays] pose a particular risk to those who may be at risk of losing services or experiencing deterioration in their capacity if their plan is not adjusted quickly,” the report said.

The Ombudsman said it received 400 complaints about the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) review processes over the 18 months to January.Reports to the watchdog included:

“In one case, a participant did not know why her plan was changed because the NDIA had not told her it had accepted (and given effect to) her request for a plan review,” the report said.

“Some participants have told us they have been waiting for up to eight or nine months for a decision on their review request, without any update on its progress or explanation of the time taken.”

The Ombudsman described the review processes as “unwieldy”, “unapproachable”, and lacking “fairness and transparency”.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report into the NDIS’s plan review system has revealed up to 8,000 people are stuck waiting for an outcome.

  • The agency not prioritising urgent cases where, for example, people could be at risk of harm or homelessness
  • NDIA staff and contractors discouraging people from seeking a review
  • The NDIA not acknowledging requests for review or responding to enquiries

The NDIA has accepted the Ombudsman’s 20 recommendations.

“The NDIA has established a dedicated team to manage outstanding reviews.

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan reinforced the message that the NDIA was dealing with the issues outlined in the report.

“Obviously when you undertake a reform of this scale there will always be issues that we need to work through … we’re doing everything we can to speed up the process.

“”These problems need to be fixed, and fixed right now,” Ms Macklin said.

“Get peoples’ plans right the first time so we just don’t need all these reviews done, and people waiting for much-needed support.”

Federal Labor’s social services spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said it was “an absolutely damning report”.

“This was something that was identified some months ago and special teams have been put in place to address this issue,” he said.

“The NDIS is a world-first reform, the size and scale of which means the scheme will not be without challenges.”

“[The agency] has started determining the most practical way to implement responses,” a spokesman said in a statement.

More than 140,000 Australians are now covered by the NDIS — a number expected to reach 475,000 by early next decade.

Example of AWABAKAL ACCHO NDIS Promotion

You are invited to our FREE information sessions to learn more about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

AWABAKAL NDIS GATHERING
14 June 2018
• 10am to 12pm at Wickham Office
• 2pm – 4pm at Cardiff Office

We will explain:
• What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme?
• Accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
• What is funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme?
• What supports are available if I am not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme?
• Your Consumer Rights when accessing Service Providers
• What is a service agreement?

Yarn to people who have been National Disability Insurance Scheme participants for several years about exercising their rights as consumers.

LOCATION: 10am to 12pm 64 Hannell st Wickham
2pm to 4pm 15 Kelton St Cardiff

For further information contact Suzy Trindall – CDAH
M: 0428 840 953 E: suzy@cdah.org.au

Part 3 Aboriginal people with disabilities and their families need our support

FROM INDIGENOUSX / THE Guardian

Before I worked in the sector, I didn’t know much about disabilities and felt it had little to no relevance to my personal life. How wrong I was. I have been a carer for immediate and extended family and have grown up around family members with disability, but as in many of our Indigenous communities across the country, care and acceptance were our cultural norm and labels were not required.

Pictured above : Editor of NACCHO Communique and Stroke Foundation Consumer Council Co chair & Board Member 2017 Colin Cowell (left ) with fellow stroke survivor Tania Lewis at an NDIS workshop in Coffs Harbour conducted by Joe Archibald (right )

Read Tania’s story HERE

The question of how much of a difference access to quality formal disability supports could have made to the lives of my family members with disability, as well as our lives as carers, is more relevant now then ever.

We need solutions to ensure that all Aboriginal people and their families have access to quality disability services that respect their culture and meet their needs.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) boasts some pretty impressive statistics, including the largest social reform since Medicare, increased funding in the sector from about $8bn per year to $22bn in 2019-20, and providing supports to about 475,000 people.

In 2014 the Australian government commenced rolling out the NDIS. But Aboriginal participation in the new scheme remains unacceptably low. This means that despite increases in the funding available, there is a real danger that without culturally appropriate services, supports and pathways the Aboriginal community will not get access to all of the opportunities that the NDIS represents.

Daily our mob lives with the impacts of disability more than any other section of the Australian population: almost half of our Indigenous population aged 15 years and over live with disability or a restrictive long-term health condition and experience disability at more than twice the rate of the general Australian population which increases further with the inclusion  of psychosocial disability (mental health).

Research and statistics demonstrate the overwhelmingly adverse intersectional impact of being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and having disability across a range of wellbeing and social indicators including health, educational attainment, employment participation, personal safety and exposure to the out of home care and criminal justice systems. Indigenous youth in juvenile detention are recorded as having very high rates of significant intellectual disabilities or mental health conditions.

Aboriginal people living with disability, their carers and families need our support.

Every day Indigenous families enter the NDIS system and service marketplace, many with little support and knowledge of what to do and where to go. This will continue as the NDIS evolves and adapts its generic approach, after having already acknowledged more culturally appropriate strategies and pathways are needed to create equity.

There are cohorts of participants for which supply shortages are high-risk due to the increased cost of service provision and limited availability of workforce, including those who: are in outer regional, remote or very remote areas; have complex needs; are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; or have acute care needs such as in crisis situations.”

For those who have knowledge of the NDIS space you don’t have to look hard to identify the significant risks in becoming a participant or service provider within an evolving scheme. Acknowledging NDIS is a tough market and costs are yet to reflect the “high risk” and specialist service delivery required to achieve effective outcomes, so it is essential to identify what you do well.

We need culturally appropriate services with sustainable models that can compete in the NDIS open market and be around for our communities for the long term.

Seek to collaborate with existing culturally appropriate services.

Our mob still requires a lot of advocacy in the disability space, and services cannot meaningfully address the needs of Aboriginal communities alone. Adopting models that work closely with Aboriginal families and local partner organisations is important, such as our partnership with Galambila Aboriginal Health Services. It complements existing strengths and services pathways to provide comprehensive care coordination across disability, primary health and allied health services. We know that isolating disabilities from our other services does not work in achieving the positive engagement and outcomes for overall health and wellbeing of our communities.

Historically culture and community supports have been excluded from formal disability service provision, but the right supports and services can empower our families to maintain community and culture in services as much as possible.

At Windaan we have made a commitment to weather the storm of NDIS service delivery and seek out partners where our values and vision align. This allows our Indigenous communities to receive services they’re entitled to and deserve.

  • Guardian Australia is proud to partner with IndigenousX to showcase the diversity of Indigenous peoples and opinions from around the country.

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