Research revealed the greatest problem with the NDIS

Posted 9 months ago by David McManus
The team from Paralympics Australia, Easy Healthcare, Liesl Tesch MP, co-founders Mr River Night and Mike Clark at the 2023 Sydney Disability Connection Expo. [Source: Image courtesy of Developing Australian Communities]
The team from Paralympics Australia, Easy Healthcare, Liesl Tesch MP, co-founders Mr River Night and Mike Clark at the 2023 Sydney Disability Connection Expo. [Source: Image courtesy of Developing Australian Communities]

Key points:

  • Research participants described their experience with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) process as ‘suffering’
  • Of the nearly 5,000 people living with disability surveyed, time constraints were cited as a hurdle for both providers and recipients of the Scheme
  • The Sydney Disability Connection Expo is the largest two-day event for the sector, held May 24 – 25


NDIS Minister Bill Shorten called for a review of the Scheme in October, 2022, with advocates and stakeholders conducting research to determine existing problems which are negatively impacting participants and support providers.

New research from peak advocacy group, Developing Australian Communities, found that many throughout the sector have experienced negative impacts and delays as a result of the existing scheme. The Expo will serve as a touchstone for the review, in order to deliver improved outcomes to those who need it.

Mr River Night of Developing Australian Communities said feedback gathered for the survey painted a clear picture of existing issues in the NDIS which require attention. He said that concerns were “[…] clear, constant, repetitive and very obvious.”

“Our research survey went out to the sector as part of the 2023 Sydney Disability Connection Expo at the International Convention Centre in Sydney last month, who also released their inclusive event tool kit — coinciding with the largest two-day event in New South Wales for the disability and NDIS space,” Mr Night said.

“Respondents were often saying the same thing and were clear about what they thought is broken with the NDIS and needs urgent attention. While the NDIS has done great things, the impact on some people due to what needs fixing is too great at times and unsustainable. We don’t want to take away from the amazing work done by NDIS and its positive impact, but we also can’t tolerate the negative impact described by those affected when things go wrong.”

Despite existing, universal and troubling issues facing the Scheme, advocates of and people with disability who attended the event were appreciative of Mr Shorten’s efforts. Similarly, CEOs and providers were glad to see Liesl Tesch, Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Communities and for Disability Inclusion, at the event. Mr Night said that he encourages every Australian in the sector, as either a support provider or recipient, to contribute to the NDIS review.

“We applaud the idea that Mr Shorten raised this month to say the call centre needs to be internal, staffed by people that can access your information, provide solutions, respond and reduce the time wasted treading water, because people are and will drown,” added Mr Night.

“If the call centre only regurgitates the information from the website — that doesn’t help me when I can read it myself. When my call is to say to the NDIS that the delegate has made a huge mistake, I need this fixed urgently — ‘take a number and wait a month or four’ is unacceptable and means, for many, [a] risk of homelessness, [a] risk of service access issues, [a] risk of hospitalisation, [the] risk of abuse and neglect.”

Mr Muhammad Latif, Director, Cocoon SDA Care, said that time is the most valuable asset for both providers and participants, with documentation, regulation and communication having muddied the waters for direct and accessible care.

“As far as the NDIS is concerned, it is basically time that is very, very valuable. When we ring NDIS, for any query, it takes a long time, and most of the time, they say, look, you sent us an email, and we will respond within two-to-three weeks time. Two-to-three weeks time means it’s nothing, you know, we are nowhere, we need to address those participants because some of them — they are sitting in hospital and they are occupying the beds, and the hospital staff — they are struggling and it disturbs the whole system,” said Mr Latif.

“People basically suffer — they suffer — they don’t get anywhere. The houses are ready to move in, but we are waiting for the paperwork. They need to put some more effort into speeding up the process. The process is very slow at the moment.”