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BFCSA: ‘Lost’ to the NDIS: thousands with disabilities to miss out. Accuracy of data issue

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‘Lost’ to the NDIS: thousands with disabilities to miss out

The Australian 12:00am November 12, 2016

Rick Morton

 

Thousands of people with ­profound disabilities who should have gained access to the $22 billion National Disability Insur­ance Scheme have been “lost” and are uncontactable by states and territories, adding to a series of major errors that will see the program miss its end-of-year estim­ate by almost 9000 people.

State and federal governments were forced to meet earlier this year and agree to a “revised” first-quarter estim­ate in light of a payments system crash in July.

Continuing data issues, for which states are responsible, and a higher-than-expected influx of children will see the number of plans approved by year’s end fall well short of benchmarks.

The national target of 20,264 plans between July and September was halved to 10,529, comprising a 50 per cent cut in estimates for every state (but not the territor­ies), data obtained by The Weekend Australian reveals.

After an emergency “recovery plan” was agreed by all levels of government, the gap has closed, but the NDIS agency will still be 8673 plans behind on its original 38,524 estimate at year’s end.

The breakdown in numbers provides an insight into the complex task the agency has been given. The information belonging to almost 2000 people in Victoria and South Australia has not been handed over and 3691 people have gone “missing”, mostly in NSW and Queensland.

Data supplied by the states to the National Disability Insurance Agency was in some cases ­incomplete or unusable and, while it included names, addresses and phone numbers, almost 3700 people could not be reached.

When the states were told to get their act together and send the agency information that could help it contact people, they ­conceded that the data “could not be improved upon”. The Weekend Aust­ralian understands the NDIA expects to catch up on original plan approval estimates by the middle of next year where it has control but is concerned the problem of “missing” NDIS participants will continue.

“Having mediated the payment portal issues in good time, we are now focused on the ongoing task of plan approvals and the rates and number of approved plans is increasing steadily so that by December there should be an alignment between approved plans and estimates,” the Social Services Minister, Christian Porter, said.

“However, meeting estimates depends upon the accuracy of data received by the NDIA and this is an issue that all jurisdictions are working to resolve.”

Remarkably, there have been 3202 fewer new applications for the NDIS since July, explained by sources as a “trepidation” among people with disability to jump into the scheme immediately, though they are expected to ultimately sign up.

A soon-to-be-published quarterly report from the agency confirms May reports from this newspaper that NDIA chief executive David Bowen leads an internal cost-control committee, the Sustainability and Liability Review Working Group.

The report says costs are rising because of a “higher than expected number of children entering the scheme”, package costs growing and fewer people leaving the scheme than anticipated.

More than 12,000 children younger than 14 were granted ­access to the scheme in the quarter, almost 90 per cent of whom were aged between five and 14.

The most number of rejections were also made in this cohort, with 948 children being turned away from the NDIS.

 

In the 2015-16 financial year, $60 million more was committed in plans to individuals than was budgeted for ($934.3m), though participants did not use all of this money so a deficit did not arise.

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  • Louie2U
    Louie2U Saturday, 12 November 2016

    Missing - hmmm

    Having been through dealing with a plethora of daft government agencies since my daughter was born in 1989 with physical disabilities, I am not surprised at the levels of incompetence, outright ignorance nor arrogance of those who hold the "power" over others in this position.
    I question who engineered the "missing data" to begin with. Courts are notorious for not recording information correctly or simply "losing" data; why-ever would this be any different? There is always a reason behind it. It does not just "happen" as they would have us believe. There will be a construct. The greatest difficulty is uncovering that construct & who will be the whistleblower with a conscious?

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