Interview on 5AA, Mornings regarding NDIS review to cut red tape and wait times

E&OE

LEON BYNER: But I want to talk about NDIS. We have somebody who's been appointed, his name is - you probably haven't heard of him - his name is David Tune. He's been appointed to conduct a review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme legislation and rules, which we are told will inform the development of the Morrison Government's promised NDIS Participant Service Guarantee. Now what I can tell you - and I'm sure the Minister has not, not heard this before - we have a lot of people who call in who have been evaluated and they're waiting and waiting and waiting, or they've been given a package at the level well below what they believed they are entitled to. Yes, I know there's been some rorts and that's a worry. But we can never use that as an excuse to slow down the justice of people who are entitled to help. And this has been bipartisan, hasn't it? And that's good. But just have to wait a long time and are under significant duress whilst they get what they've been promised.

Now let's talk to the Minister for NDIS, Stuart Robert. Stuart, nice to talk to you.

MINISTER: Leon, how are you sir?

LEON BYNER: Good. So what is it you're trying to do by having this review? What do you want out of it?

MINISTER: We went to the election, Leon, promising a Participant Service Guarantee which is - KPI's if you like - a guarantee to Australians that if they're eligible for NDIS assistance that they will know exactly the timeframe that they're working under to access the scheme, to get a plan and to have that plan reviewed.

LEON BYNER: What is your understanding of why things appear for many, to be totally convoluted? In other words, first of all, the wait time has been enormous to get an evaluation. They've had the evaluation and then there's more of a wait to get what they were promised in the evaluation and in some evaluations the level of care is well below what they'd hoped. Can this be addressed?

MINISTER: There's no question it can be addressed. It's a world leading scheme, no one's done this before. We're moving from a state-based - what's called block grant system - where the states told their citizens, here's the service you're getting, to an entirely new construct where we're going to have half a million individual plans to meet individual needs. So as we've been transitioning, all of the participants from the states have been coming in, in bulk, thousands and thousands and thousands per week into the NDIS. So the sheer volume of people coming through, I think has necessitated [indistinct], well it's led to a bunch of bottlenecks.

We've dealt with that with early childhood at the end of June - I set a KPI of 50 days. I wasn't waiting for David Tune to do his review; I felt I needed to act quickly. But the whole point of what David Tune is doing for me in getting a report by the end of the year, is that by mid next year I can legislate - this is the KPI and ensure the resources map the KPI's, which is Participant Services Guaranteed.

LEON BYNER: Tell me, what kind of demand in number is there from South Australia for an NDIS package of any level? Do we know?

MINISTER: Yeah, good question. There's tens of thousands of people of course. South Australia has transitioned into full scheme and is up and running but there is still a range of provider shortages in South Australia, the markets are actually quite thin down there.

LEON BYNER: Why would that be?

MINISTER: I think historically there hasn't been a great demand in terms of the provision of service. Every state had different block funding approaches of how they funded disability. Some states were very good, some states were not as thorough or not as detailed and so it sort of varied, a fair bit of history in all of that. I think also it depends on population numbers, the larger population, the greater density the providers. And it also depends upon what the universities are teaching. For example, we lack some therapists like occupational therapy in Tasmania, and that I think is a direct result of Tasmanian universities not training in those disciplines. Because we know that people when they study, generally like to stay in the community they grew up in.

LEON BYNER: Sure.

MINISTER: So they're some of the challenges we've got to work through and we'll do that, we'll do that tentatively. It'll take us a while but we'll get there.

LEON BYNER: Alright. Now your predecessor, Ken Wyatt, who I got to know reasonably well, we had a great arrangement with him and his department where if people rang us and they appeared to have fallen through the cracks with regards to NDIS, that we would pass on their details and they would get a fair hearing. And I've got to say through the second in charge at NDIA, we've been able to get some good results. I'm hoping that we can do the same with you, Minister.

MINISTER: Yeah, absolutely. Any issues that the constituents or listeners raise, send them through to my office and we'll be straight onto them.

LEON BYNER: Alright.

MINISTER: Because it's such an individualised service, we want people to have individual plans that meet their goals and [indistinct] meet their aspirations. There's always going to be a few little challenges but if you send them through, we will expedite it and get them solved.

LEON BYNER: Alright, thank you. That's Stuart Robert, the Minister responsible for NDIS.