Getting access to NDIS funding has become complicated and drawn out.  Speaking to visitors and suppliers at the recent ATSA Expos, F2L was told, not surprisingly, that there seems to be a funding backlog across the assistive technology sector that stretches from wheelchairs through to vehicle modifications. While most who spoke to F2L acknowledged that the NDIS is trying to make the system more seamless and easier to access, the scheme is proving to be a bigger challenge to deal with than what was originally thought.  A general comment was that that more transparency was needed about waiting times. “The end user is who we are trying to look after and the last thing we want is someone to be injured while on a waiting list for equipment that should have been sorted months ago,” is how one supplier described the situation. “The NDIS needs to get the balance right. A plan is not going to need assessment every year with a vehicle maybe every seven years, a wheelchair say three years, home modifications probably 15 years while carers change as people’s needs change.”  

Asked about funding issues as the NDIS rolls out in Queensland,  Minister for Disability Services, Coralee O’Rourke (pictured), who officially opened the Brisbane expo, told F2L that with such a big reform there will be challenges along the way “which we are experiencing and having discussions about what some of those challenges are. The one thing I am very confident about, from both a Queensland and Commonwealth perspective, is that we are very committed to making sure it works well and these issues are addressed, sooner rather than later. I am are working closely with the Federal Minister, Christian Porter, and making sure that issues that do arise can be dealt with promptly. The bi-lateral agreement was signed to deliver from July 1, 2016 and the plan is to have everyone rolled in by the end of June, 2019.”  

An advanced rollout for existing service users has just begun in Ipswich and goes to Bundaberg on September 1 and Rockhampton from November 1. National Disability Services Queensland manager, Richard Nelson said there are several issues of interest for Queensland disability service providers, namely the time it takes to register as a provider.  Also, the current NDIS price preview, the plan review process and the lack of co-design regarding how participants with complex needs, or who live in regional or remote areas can best be assisted to travel. Nelson said details of these issues and recommendations for the way forward are available in the NDS publication, ‘How to get the NDIS on track’.