Stressed by the NDIS

Shorne Duggan’s stomach dropped as his son’s NDIS plan appeared on the computer screen. 

He had been expecting a support budget of about $34,580 – the amount Shorne said the Department of Human Services had approved for Joshua two years ago. 

Instead, his screen showed a total sum of $14,535.

While most Bendigo families will have to wait until May 1 to participate in the scheme, an exception was made for Joshua. 

His family has been receiving emergency funding and was eager to get involved in the NDIS to better provide for his care.

Joshua, 10, has been diagnosed with disabilities including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

His plan includes respite care, assistive technology, speech pathology, dietetics, and support services. 

“It’d be lucky if it lasts us 12 months – that’s only for respite,” Shorne said, panicked, when he learnt the initial figure.

The family was preparing to appeal the plan when Shorne learned there had been a mistake.

Interchange Loddon Mallee Region called to say the NDIA had allocated a support budget of $36,360.

Hopeful, Shorne logged back into the computer system. But the sum hadn’t changed. 

The Duggans have since had it confirmed that the plan they initially saw was missing a few zeroes. 

Though grateful, Shorne was disappointed his family had to endure the distress caused by the error. 

Victorian Minister for Housing Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley, said transitioning to the NDIS had been a positive experience for some, but that he had been contacted by others who had received ‘poor engagement.’

“It’s almost like a lottery, and it shouldn’t be,” Mr Foley said. 

“We are seeing case after case of people being worse off, of the promise of plans being rolled out not being followed,” he said.

His office is contacting the 1400 “complex cases” introduced to the NDIS early to let them know the appeal process is available to them if necessary.

“My department stands ready to help the NDIA deliver a plan and a package that they are rightly entitled to,” Mr Foley said. 

“It is for the family to choose and control the package it is looking for.”

NDIS participants can also submit an application for internal review of a decision, an National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) spokesperson said. 

The NDIS is expected to service 105,000 people once rollout is complete.