Minister denies more than 1200 people died waiting for NDIS

Amanda Lyons

16/01/2020 3:50:22 PM

Minister for the NDIS Stuart Robert disputes the interpretation of the figures, reported by the agency itself during Senate estimates.

Stuart Robert
Minister for the NDIS Stuart Robert dismissed the figures as ‘not even remotely correct’. (Image AAP)

The National Disability Insurance Agency told Senate estimates earlier this week that 1279 people died between 2017 and 2019, ‘between submitting an access request and receiving supports under the National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS]’.
Of these 1279 people, 369 died in the first nine months of 2019. In addition, 65 were children, 35 of them under six years old and 30 aged between seven and 18.
The figures also revealed length of wait times around the country, with children under six experiencing an average wait of 121 days to access the NDIS, while those aged seven or above averaged 152 days.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the figures as ‘unacceptable’, but added that the Government had been working hard to reduce waiting times.
However, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Stuart Robert dismissed the figures as ‘not even remotely correct’ in an interview with radio station 2GB.
While the Minister did not dispute that the people had died, he did argue that ‘no-one passed away waiting for the NDIS’. Instead, he said those who had died were ‘getting support from the states and territories as they transitioned to the NDIS’.
Associate Professor Robert Davis, Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Disability network, agrees that the raw data seems ‘quite concerning’, but said he would like to see a further breakdown of the figures before coming to a final conclusion.
‘Yes, this is an issue,’ Associate Professor Davis told newsGP. ‘But it might be a reflection of a need to better integrate health and disability, as well as to prioritise people in a more urgent situation.
‘It might not be the delay in NDIS causing death; it might be that the condition causing the death is also causing the delay in disability services.’
However, Associate Professor Davis did agree with NDIS critics, such as Labor NDIS spokesperson Bill Shorten, that the scheme requires more staff – as long as staffing requirements are carried out appropriately.
‘Inevitably they’re going to need more staff, the numbers would dictate that, and the NDIS underspend of last year is largely due to not having employed the staff,’ he said. ‘I don’t think anyone would deny this is needed.
‘But you want properly trained staff, not untrained staff, and there’s certainly a need to provide a trained workforce to fill that space.’
While being questioned on the delays in NDIS access, Minister Robert was keen to emphasise the Government’s efforts to improve waiting times for scheme access.
‘This is evidenced by new data that shows, as at 31 December 2019, access decisions for the NDIS were taking on average four days to complete,’ Minister Robert told Yahoo Finance.
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Dr Peter James Maguire   17/01/2020 3:29:23 PM

As a GP working in a state hospital, I can confirm we despair at the time taken to obtain NDIS support for patients with a disability who need support to get home.
Presumably what the Minister means by "State providing transition" is patients waiting in acute hospitals when they don't need acute care, because they can't get home safely until the NDIS support comes through months later