NDIS – “Big Bang Theory”

To all the new NDIS participants

From the 1st of July 2017, people in new areas across Australia will be eligible to access the NDIS, including existing and new participants in the South Eastern Sydney area. Because it’s a big change for everyone, especially for the participants, the nominee or child representative and service providers, the NDIS is being introduced in stages. There has been so much fear and trepidation expressed by participants and service providers about this massive change driven by the NDIA and the media.

The advertising by the NDIS also created, and continues to give unrealistic expectations of what will be funded. Participants are told that they will be funded for what is reasonable and necessary and that they would have choice and control over their NDIS Plan. In reality, many existing and new participants are finding that the new funding system is more restrictive, has too much red tape, is too difficult to navigate and get little or no support from the Local Area Coordinators (LAC’s). At the end of the day, the participant and the family are reliant on a proactive service provider to understand the plan and how to activate the portal and budget.

Service providers such as Windgap have invested a huge amount of time in meeting with the participant and the family to prepare them for their meeting with the LAC’s. The concerns and stress that participants and their families have been feeling reduced significantly as a result of planning meetings. The feedback has been that the meetings with the LAC’s were not as tough as expected and all of the pre-planning was worthwhile. The expectation was that July 1st, 2017 would be like the “Big Bang Theory” with the world changing drastically. The date has passed, with very little obvious change or excitement. Windgap, like many other service providers, are still here and are working hard with those participants and their families to deal with the outcomes of the FIRST PLAN received from the NDIA.

The biggest criticism of the NDIS has been the poor communication with both participants and service providers. This includes many inconsistencies in information and advice provided between the various offices of the NDIA. Service providers and participants learn quickly that if the first person from the NDIA can’t assist you or give you the answer you want, you just hang up and try again. For a significant section of the community, English is not a participant’s first language. NDIA has provided limited or no support to understand the process including what is the next step when a plan has been approved. When the plan is approved, and a copy of the plan is received in the mail that is the time for action. But if instructions are not given or the person does not have the capacity to understand them, then nothing will happen. This includes, Step 1: knowing that everyone must have a myGov account, and an email address to receive the Activation Code.

Once the participant, or their nominee or a child representative has activated the myplace portal then decisions need to be made about the following: (1) Managing the NDIS funds; (2) finding and engaging providers; (3) making a service agreement; (4) using the myplace portal; (5) and monitoring the supports and funding. To many participants, this can be overwhelming, especially if funding is not provided for support coordination, or for plan management. The best advice is to engage with an experienced service provider, such as Windgap, to get up to date and accurate advice. The Windgap Customer Care team will be able to assist or provide advice on the next course of action. The NDIS journey will have bumps along the way but the goal remains that the person with disability will improve their lifestyle and independence.