IT is a system promising choice and control but according to a Beeliar resident the WA-delivered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) requires work if it is to operate as intended.
Matt Battista, a father of two and manager at a business in Bibra Lake, has lived life as a T5 paraplegic since a motorcycle fall at Barbagallo Raceway eight years ago left him with no feeling below his chest.
He has been part of the WA NDIS trial in Cockburn and Kwinana for the last year, but said the plan, which will now be rolled out across the state after being formalised earlier this month, had only offered up roadblocks and delays in his fight for a new wheelchair and general assistance around the home.
“It’s hard work,” he said.
“It’s alright if you don’t work all day and can afford to spend hours on the phone trying to sort stuff out.
“But I’ve got a mortgage, kids; I don’t have time for that.
“Everyone’s different. That’s the problem. They see people like, ‘you’re in a wheelchair. You won’t have a job.’ They class everyone the same.”
He said the number of “middle-men” he had to speak to or visit when seeking help unnecessarily ramped up the spend that comes out of his allocated budget.
He said quick appointments were costing more than $100, while he received an invoice for $84 after seeking advice over the phone.
“When I tried to go for the wheelchair I had to force the issue of why I wanted one,” he said.
“It’s how I get around.
“Even with things like (getting someone to help with) ironing, they said ‘oh you can’t do that’.
“I’m not sure if that’s my planner not going in to bat for me. I don’t understand the system.”
Disability Service Commission director-general Ron Chalmers was hesitant to go into individual cases but said feedback during the trials in the Lower South West, Cockburn, Kwinana, Armadale, Serpentine, Jarrahdale and Murray had been “overwhelmingly positive”.
“We’ve found that most situations can be resolved,” he said.
“Our objective with the WA NDIS is to get the right level of support and funding for the individual. We want to be flexible.”
Cockburn MLA Fran Logan said he had heard criticism about the NDIS, as well as comments about it being “the best thing since sliced bread”.
“The criticism seems to be growing because of the cost of services, the administration of the services and the speed of delivery of those services,” he said.
“My argument would be, at the very early stages of WA NDIS, the government of WA should put an audit through to ensure service providers are providing at a cost that doesn’t impact on the funding of the individual.
“It’s clear the allocated funding to the individual appears to be sliced up on the cost of services and administration of those services and the actual delivery of product – what’s needed – is being slow to roll out or difficult to access.”
Dr Chalmers said a framework was in place to ensure the right services were being delivered and money was not being wasted.
“(The framework) reflects the realistic costs of purchasing services,” he said.
“It stands up to scrutiny.
“We will continue to refine that as costs shift over time.”
About 39,000 people will be part of the WA NDIS when rollout completes in July 2019.
Matt Battista and Cockburn MLA Fran Logan. Picture: Will Russell