8th February 2019
This opinion piece by Arthur Rogers, Disability Services Commissioner, was published in the Sunraysia Daily in January, and the Gippsland Times and Maffra Spectator in Febuary 2019.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rollout has begun in Goulburn / Mallee / Outer Gippsland.
The NDIS is a fundamental shift in the way disability services are funded and accessed in Australia. For many people, it will be the first time they receive the disability services and supports that they need and deserve.
Yet it is clear that for a number of people, more needs to be done to improve the disability services they receive.
In the last financial year, my office received a 287 per cent increase in the number of enquiries and complaints relating to the NDIS and NDIS-funded disability services.
While some of these were outside the scope of our work, the complaints that we could handle highlighted that though the source of funding may have changed, the quality of the disability service had not.
In one case handled by my office, Edward made a complaint about the behaviour and actions of a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) who was responsible for helping his daughter Lisa with creating her first NDIS plan.
Edward felt that the LAC hadn’t understood Lisa’s needs as an individual, hadn’t considered all the paperwork and assessments provided, and had already pre-determined Lisa’s plan before the meeting even started as they turned down all the suggestions made by Lisa about her goals and what she wanted to achieve with her plan.
My office was able to handle Edward’s complaint, and arranged for Lisa to have a planning meeting with another LAC before the plan was submitted for finalisation.
Victorian LACs are all registered disability service providers – in Goulburn / Mallee / Outer Gippsland, the LAC is either Intereach or Latrobe Community Health Service. If you are unhappy with your LAC or your disability service provider, you can make a complaint to my office.
In another case handled by my office, Jodie made a complaint as she felt her NDIS-funded registered disability service provider wasn’t supporting her appropriately or listening to her requests.
While she lived independently, she received some support to help her do her grocery shopping every week, yet her support workers would ignore her requests and select things she didn’t want or like. Her weekly shopping trips had become so stressful that it would impact the rest of her day. On one occasion, this stress caused her to forget to take her medication, severely impacting her health.
My office was able to handle Jodie’s complaint, and facilitated a meeting with her service provider who agreed on a number of actions they would take to improve their services and staff communication.
Victorians with disability should know that the NDIS is their opportunity to exercise choice and control. In a consumer-driven disability services market, you have the power to speak up and demand better quality of services.
Making a complaint to my office is one way to do that. Complaints can help to improve services, not just for yourself, but for everyone who uses that service.
Speaking up can lead to positive change.
Disability Services Commissioner
To make a complaint about a Victorian disability service provider, contact Disability Services Commissioner on 1800 677 342 or www.odsc.vic.gov.au.