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Confusion over how to spend NDIS cash

March, 2019

March, 2019

THE number of South Australians with NDIS packages has reached almost 25,000 – but only just over half are spending their money on services.The 59 per cent utilisation rate of approved funding lags behind the national rate of 69 per cent. Experts say the system is so confusing for many, they simply don’t know where to spend the money.

Confusion over how to spend NDIS cash

BRAD CROUCH HEALTH REPORTER

THE number of South Australians with NDIS packages has reached almost 25,000 – but only just over half are spending their money on services.

The 59 per cent utilisation rate of approved funding lags behind the national rate of 69 per cent. Experts say the system is so confusing for many, they simply don’t know where to spend the money.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is now fully operational and available across SA. More than onethird of the 24,826 participants are aged between seven and 14.

Federal Families and Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher said the NDIS was “dramatically changing the lives of people with disability”.

“The fact that as of the end of 2018, some 73,956 participants entering the scheme (nationally) had never received disability supports before demonstrates the NDIS is simply a better way of providing support for Australians with a disability, their families and carers,” he said.

He also noted the average phone call answer speed was now 28 seconds, versus 4 minutes 16 seconds previously.

However, the utilisation rate has prompted one approved provider, HenderCare, to boost its Disability Support team with additional specialists trained to help participants “unpack” NDIS plans.

HenderCare chief executive Amanda Blight said many participants were getting a plan but did not know what to do next.

“Funding is vital for these participants so, as providers, we all must do more to make sure they’re accessing the services they need,” she said.

The NDIS website notes the lower proportion of utilisation reflects the increased amount of participants who received their first plans; participants tend to use less of their first plan, compared with their second and subsequent plans, as it takes time to familiarise with the process.

Aberfoyle Park resident Michele King’s daughter, Molly, 17, who has an intellectual disability, has received NDIS funding for the past three years but lived without any support for the first six months because she didn’t fully understand the plan or the choices.

“I had no idea where to go or what to do next,” Ms King said. “I contacted a few NDISregistered disability services providers and worked with one provider for a few months, but it was only after being referred to HenderCare that we properly understood Molly’s NDIS Plan and how the funding could be used.”

Molly is now preparing to resume voluntary work with the Salvos and is getting support for her Year 12 Vocational Education and Training course.