ACT News

NDIS transitions behind schedule NDIA quarterly report reveals

The number of Canberrans eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been dramatically underestimated, the latest progress report shows.

More than 400 people moved on to the scheme in its first six months in the ACT, but the quarterly report shows the roll-out is still running behind schedule and Canberrans made the highest proportion of complaints about the scheme.

As of December 31, 434 participants had their plans approved, 92 per cent of the 472 people expected to have transitioned to the scheme as per the "ages and stages" timetable determined by date of birth or by academic year for school-aged individuals.

But 816 people attempted to access the NDIS and 660 were deemed eligible – 188 more than expected.

The number of eligible participants was also underestimated in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia, but the ACT showed the most dramatic jump of 140 per cent.

The ACT also had the highest proportion of complaints in comparison with the number of approved plans with 21 received in the scheme's first six months in the territory and only 52 per cent of participants saying the planning progress was "very good" – the lowest of all jurisdictions.

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Minister for Disability Joy Burch said the report showed a "solid result", with the ACT on track and "close" to meeting targets established in the bilateral agreement with the federal government.

After being marred by complaints from some participants, the territory's NDIS roll-out appears to have sped up compared to the previous quarter where just 64 per cent of expected participants had their plans signed off.

Australia-wide 81 per cent of participants had their plans approved compared to what was expected.

The ACT had the third shortest waiting period of all jurisdictions with eligible participants waiting an average of 48 days for their plan to be approved –  below the national average of 72,  something welcomed by Ms Burch.

The ACT had the highest proportion of people who had chosen to "self-manage" their plans at 16 per cent, but the majority of participants (52 per cent) had delegated the responsibility to the National Disability Insurance Agency, and 31 per cent had chosen a combination of the two.

Ms Burch said it was great to see Canberrans were exercising choice and control, a fundamental principle of the NDIS.

"The support needs people are seeking most are supports that enable independence and greater social participation," she said.

Children aged up to four needing early intervention make up half of Canberra's NDIS participants so far, followed by those aged 15 to 24 (26 per cent) and people aged 45 to 64 (11 per cent).

The report showed the number of plans approved each month was growing and Ms Burch said it indicated the scheme remained within its funding envelope.

"Overall the outlook for the NDIS is positive and I look forward to seeing more people enter the scheme here in Canberra in 2015," Ms Burch said.

NDIA chairman Bruce Bonyhady acknowledged the reform had its challenges and said the most significant lay ahead as the full rollout approached.

"We have learnt a lot in the last 18 months and will continue to make improvements and take on board the feedback of the people at the heart of the scheme – Australians with disability, their families and carers," he said.

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