Many NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) participants will be finding themselves meticulously preparing for a plan review. For some, the reality of the NDIS is all too real and they have already received their reviewed plan for the following year.
A number have been shocked to receive funding cuts of 40 to 70 percent, which means a major reduction in the supports they have had for the last year and possibly for many years before that.
Many have lost funding for community outings such as Saturday Leisure Link.
One parent with a son with a disability, was encouraged in her first planning meeting last year with the NDIS to return to work with the assurance that there would be sufficient funding for her son to have the necessary supports. She was shocked that her son’s second plan was reduced by 60%, placing her employment at risk. She has appealed this decision but has been now waiting for 17 weeks for the outcome of her appeal. In the meantime, she has taken the risky but very understandable decision to keep her sons supports at a level which allows her to continue working in the hope of a successful appeal outcome. If the appeal doesn’t restore her sons funding to the previous level, his funding will run out before the end of the planning year and he will have no NDIS supports until his next plan is due.
Woodville has a number of clients who have had similar funding cuts of around 50% in their second plan. Many struggle with how to make decisions about which supports to cut. A grandmother waiting for hip and knee replacements and facing a 50% plan cut for her granddaughter told us “Reasonable and necessary they are just words NDIA have come up with to justify taking away funding. There is no consistency in anything they do.” Another mother also faced with a 50% funding cut and struggling with whether to cut a weekend once a month social activity which had improved her daughter’s ability to communicate and to make friends or core weekday funding which provided important skills development said, “I feel the NDIS have failed her.”
A parent faced with a $50,000 plan reduction told us “my daughter will be missing out on programs that she attended last year, and they were specifically aimed at achieving and working towards her goals as outlined in her NDIS plan. She will not be able to keep working on her independent living skills, her anxiety issues and communication skills. It may mean I will have to cut down on my days at work to look after her. Will the NDIS pay for my wages?”
Woodville Alliance, like many other providers have been involved in preparing for the NDIS for a number of years and have supported service users with preparing for plan reviews and by attending reviews with families.
“We are perplexed with the inconsistent responses from some of the NDIS plan reviews”, said Woodville’s CEO, Pam Batkin. “These decisions are creating great hardship for some people who have been developing new independence skills and after a year face major reduction in their supports. We have assisted families with the review process, which takes several months, and families are often left in limbo during this period. Sadly, some families have told us that they are very weary of the NDIS process and don’t have confidence in the outcome of a review and some have said they are concerned that a review could see even further cuts to their support services.”
“A positive policy response to assist people who have significant NDIS plan funding reductions over 25% would be to ensure prioritised and speedy reviews that would not leave people in limbo for several months”, recommended Pam Batkin.
On Friday 2 March, several NDIS participants who have had significant plan reductions, spoke at a forum with Jason Clare, local member for Blaxland.
Jason Clare has had a follow up meeting at the Bankstown NDIS Office in a bid to bring to this issue to their attention and rectify specific plans with a significant amount of funding cuts compared to the previous year. An update with the outcome will be shared soon.