Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has welcomed today’s community rally in support of the NDIS, saying there have been ‘dire problems’ with the implementation of the program.
“It’s great to see clients, service providers and employers unite to draw attention to some of the serious problems with the NDIS,” Ms Claydon said.
“The NDIS is one of the greatest social reforms in this country in decades, but it is currently being starved of resources by this callous Government.
“240,500 Australians should have been benefiting from the NDIS by the end of 2017-18, but we now know the actual number is closer to 200,000 – equivalent to more than 40,000 people missing out.”
Ms Claydon said the NDIS was quickly becoming one of the top issues that Novocastrians contact her about.
“Almost every day, constituents contact my office looking for help with NDIS problems,” Ms Claydon said.
“Reviews are being delayed, items are being cut from plans and people are finding it hard to get the support they need.”
Ms Claydon said one of the key problems was a staffing cap imposed by the Abbott Government in 2014 and has remained in place through the Turnbull and Morrison Governments.
“This arbitrary, senseless cap means staff are stretched beyond their limits, the rollout is falling behind schedule and people with disability aren’t getting the service they need and deserve,” Ms Claydon said.
“The Morrison Government needs to match Labor’s commitment to follow the Productivity Commission’s recommendation and scrap the staffing cap.”
Ms Claydon said the staffing cap has had the perverse incentive of driving millions of dollars of spending on consultants and contractors.
“In recent times, the NDIA has committed over $145 million for contract and temporary staff, spent $61 million on consultants in 2016-17 and 2017-18 alone, and outsourced its call centre to multinational megacorporation Serco,” Ms Claydon said.
“It’s outrageous for the NDIA to be spending vast amounts of money on consultants and outsourcing to multinational companies instead of investing in permanent ongoing staff.
“If the NDIS is to deliver on its promises, it will need a stable workforce of skilled professional staff – not contractors and consultants.”