Speech: National Disability Insurance Scheme

Speech: National Disability Insurance Scheme Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (11:31):  Thank you to the Member for Maribyrnong for moving this important motion. The National Disability Insurance Scheme has been plagued by mismanagement and maladministration for too long. But is it any wonder, with an arbitrary cap of staffing at the agency, no coherent strategy and, worst of all, $4.6 billion in cuts? In the absence of proper support, people living with disability, and their carers, are forced to fight for their rights and for adequate funding to let them live a full and engaged life in our community. I have heard their stories and I have been appalled.

Krystal is a young mum with vision impairment, but she doesn't let that stop her from achieving anything. She has numerous qualifications in community services and she uses them to help and support others in our community. She is a mum and she is determined, capable and can achieve anything she sets her mind to. I had the pleasure of meeting Krystal recently and I was blown away by all that she has achieved, but I was heartbroken to hear about Krystal's experience with the National Disability Insurance Agency. Under the scheme, Krystal has received support for both work and home.

Her workplace support workers have helped her minimise risk by conducting site orientations at the many and varied places she travels to for work. She also received help with her children and for things like grocery shopping. Nothing too out of the ordinary there. But one day the NDIS reviewed her plan and decided that she was receiving too much support—that she didn't need this additional help. It wasn't necessary. She had, after all, decided to have children. And, outrageously, she has a guide dog, so why should she need a transport allowance?

This started Krystal down a long and extremely upsetting path, fighting to have the support she needs and should be entitled to under a system that has been botched by those opposite. Because Krystal has taken the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, she has been told that they won't give her the normal yearly review. She will have to cope with the money left in her plan, which just won't be enough. Krystal's hearing has continually been pushed back. She has had to get lawyers and seek help from advocates, all because she wants to maintain her current levels of support. This is just not good enough and should not be happening. But I guess that is what happens with a $1.6 billion underspend that even their Liberal colleagues in New South Wales are calling out.

Tyson is a young man with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which means he requires the use of a wheelchair. Tyson is studying at TAFE and his hobbies are information technology, such as web design and blogging.

Tyson's main form of transport is a sedan that requires him to be lifted into the car by his father—lifted! The wheelchair is then pulled in a trailer. Tyson has applied for funding under his NDIS plan for a wheelchair-accessible van. However, he has been told that the scheme can only fund modifications to cars under two years old. At $40,000 Tyson just cannot afford this. I'm sure that is the case for so many; it is a huge ask. In Tyson's own words, the restrictions on his movements have left him unable to feel as though he is included in civic and community events and his capacity building moving forward is very limited. Heartbreaking. Cruel. Unnecessary. I wrote to the Minister and was assured that the NDIA were working with Tyson on this issue, but Tyson has said this is simply not the case.

The whole situation has been a terrible stress for Tyson and his father, who cares for him. And why? Why, when this government has cut so much, when we know there is money left over, are people like Tyson and Krystal having to fight a system that should be there to help them? The government wanted this review of the legislation and now they have it. They need to act quickly to lift the staffing cap on the NDIA. They need to properly fund the scheme and make sure it is working for those who need it. We need a kinder, caring system, or people like Krystal and Tyson will continue to be left behind and we will all lose the amazing contribution they can make in our communities. The cost of inaction is simply too high.