Border families on ‘treadmill’ wait for NDIS

Helen Wilson fears the NDIS is getting further away. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK
Helen Wilson fears the NDIS is getting further away. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

ALBURY-Wodonga residents with disabilities, their families and support service providers are worried a potential delay in the roll-out of the national disability insurance scheme will further disadvantage those living on the Border.

They fear the scheme will be watered down or that service providers will continue to struggle if the federal government adopts recommendations from the Commission of Audit to “slow down” its delivery.

Albury’s Helen Wilson, whose 26-year-old daughter has a severe intellectual disability, said the NDIS seemed to be getting further away instead of closer.

Mrs Wilson has co-organised NDIS forums on the Border for local families and said while she still believed in the scheme, she feared delays would lead to its failure.

“I’m concerned it’s going to be played around with and not delivered in the way it was promised,” she said. “We’re finding at the moment that a lot of services locally are ‘on hold’ because they don’t know what it will mean for them.

“There’s a lot of restructuring going on but nothing’s changed for my daughter.”

She said an example was her daughter’s supported accommodation unit, which was already at capacity and running on a skeleton staff.

Executive officer at Wodonga’s Disability Advocacy and Information Service Martin Butcher agreed that many Border services were unable to move forward until there was some certainty.

“Most definitely that is the case,” he said.

“The direct support staff don’t know if they have a job or not.”

The NDIS was rolled out last year in the trial areas of Barwon and the Hunter; the Border was unlikely to see the scheme before 2017.

Mr Butcher said if there was a further delay, people in the region would inevitably be further disadvantaged.

“The government is not rolling out new funds, meaning everyone’s on a treadmill waiting for the NDIS,” he said.

While he believed both major parties were committed to the program, he feared the longer the delay the more fragmented the system would be.