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Ensure people with disability receive continu. . .

Ensure people with disability receive continued support

By Carly Nowell.
Published on the VCOSS Voice on 14 January 2016.

VCOSS recently published its 2016-17 State Budget Submission: Putting people back in the picture. A series of blogs will examine some of the proposals in the submission.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will provide increased choice and control, improved services and greater security for thousands of people with disability. However, there is concern among VCOSS members that some people may miss out on support as a result of the changes, or may receive reduced levels of service. The VCOSS State Budget Submission 2016-17 calls on the Victorian government to ensure all people with disability and their carers receive continuity of support[1] regardless of whether they qualify for the NDIS, and people who transition to the NDIS are not disadvantaged[2].

There are concerns about the intersection between the disability, health and aged care systems with all three systems undergoing transformational change. With such profound changes occurring there is concern that in the transition to the NDIS, some people may fall between the cracks or not receive equivalent levels of care. For example, from 1 July 2016, funding and management of the Home and Community Care (HACC) Program will be divided between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments.[3] Services for older people will be funded and managed by the Commonwealth Government, through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), and services for people aged under 65, and under 50 for Aboriginal people, will be funded solely by the Victorian Government, until the NDIS is fully rolled out. While governments have committed to providing continuity of services, there is concern about the level of support that will be provided to younger people who may not qualify for the NDIS, to help them remain living at home.  VCOSS members have raised concerns that people with disability over 65, particularly those with complex or severe disability, may not receive adequate or equivalent levels of care through the aged care system. Everyone with disability should be able to access the support they need, regardless of their age or the severity of their disability.

Around seven per cent of people (equivalent to 1,795 people) who have applied for individualised support in the NDIS trial sites have not qualified for the scheme.[4] Of these, 359 people were in Victoria. [5] It is not clear what level of support is being provided to these people. If people are deemed ineligible or if they are not satisfied with their NDIS plans they can request an internal review, which can be escalated to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), but this process can take many months.

Feedback from organisations working in the Barwon trial site also suggest that the appeals process is not well promoted or clear for people with disability and their carers. For example, the process for requesting a review of decisions relating to eligibility or supports is completely separate to the general complaints process.[6] This can make it difficult and confusing for people to challenge decisions, particularly for those who may not be able advocate for themselves due to their disability or face other barriers to challenging decisions. People with disability and their carers need to be provided with clear guidance and advocacy support to appeal decisions and raise complaints.

Members also raised concerns that some people who qualify for support may be worse off under the scheme. While many Victorians have received improved levels of support under the NDIS, there is evidence of inconsistent planning[7], leading to some people missing out on the supports they need.

Case Study

Kylie transitioned from an Individual Support Package to the NDIS in the Barwon trial site. “…when I got my new package under the NDIS, it didn’t include any physical therapies, including chiropractic support… When I asked why, they told me the NDIS doesn’t fund physical therapies, and I would have to fund them myself if I wanted them[8]. Despite receiving chiropractic support under her ISP this was not deemed ‘reasonable and necessary support’ by the NDIA. As a result of losing access to this treatment Kylie’s mobility decreased markedly. Kylie took her case to the AAT where she successfully had this decision overturned[9] however, this required considerable time and effort from Kylie. 

The Victorian government can provide continuity of support to people receiving disability support services by ensuring they continue to receive the same or improved levels of service, in the transition to the NDIS. This is particularly important in regional and remote locations where services may already by patchy and it can be more difficult to recruit and retain qualified workers.

In addition to continued access to disability support in the lead up to, and following, the full roll out of the NDIS, as outlined in the VCOSS State Budget Submission 2016-17, the Victorian government can improve the lives of people with disability and carers by:

  • Investing in a high quality NDIS workforce to meet demand and deliver high quality services to people with disability
  • Supporting the health and well-being of carers by ensuring they receive continued access to respite and other carer supports
  • Helping people with disability live independently by providing at least 1,000 additional ISPs to help reduce the waiting lists while the NDIS is being rolled out
  • Helping people with disability to advocate for their rights by investing in independent disability advocacy.


[1] Bilateral agreement between the commonwealth and Victoria, transition to a National Disability Insurance Scheme, Schedule D, Continuity of Support arrangements in Victoria, https://www.coag.gov.au/sites/default/files/VIC_NDIS_transition_agreement-final_signed_compiled.pdf

[2] National Disability Insurance Scheme, Principle of “no disadvantage and the NDIS”, http://www.ndis.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Fact%20sheet%20-%20Principle%20of%20No%20Disadvantage.pdf

[3] Victorian state government, HACC in Transition, http://www.health.vic.gov.au/hacc/transition/index.htm

[4] National Disability Insurance Agency,  Quarterly Report to COAG Disability Reform Council, 30 Sept 2015, 44 http://www.ndis.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Quarterly-Reports/9th-Quarterly-Report.pdf

[5] National Disability Insurance Agency,  Quarterly Report to COAG Disability Reform Council, 30 Sept 2015, 44 http://www.ndis.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Quarterly-Reports/9th-Quarterly-Report.pdf

[6] NDIS, Feedback, complains and reviews, http://www.ndis.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/feedback_complaints_reviews_brochure.pdf

[7] National Disability Insurance Scheme Citizens’ Jury Scorecard for the National Disability Insurance Agency and People with Disability Australia, People with Disability Australia Inc, Redfern, NSW, 2015, p.25

[8] Victorian Council of Social Service, Insight Issue 14, Putting People Back in the Picture, VCOSS, p. 36, December 2015.

[9] Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia, McCutcheon and National Disability Insurance Agency [2015] AATA 624 (21 August 2015), 24 August 2015.

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