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Dominique McGovern discussing NDIS

Dominique McGovern providing Q & A on the 2GB Chris Smith Afternoon Show discussing NDIS – 16 April 2019

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CS – Chris Smith /DM –Dominique McGovern/C1,2,3, etc – Callers 

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CS       Our young people with disabilities are still languishing in nursing homes alongside residents up to 5 times their age despite the NDIS costing taxpayers 22 billion dollars a year.  Now during a recent senate estimates hearing the NDIS revealed that there was still nearly 3500 people under the age of 65 with a disability residing in a nursing home that was as of December last year. It seems like the problems with the NDIS continue. Okay it’s only in its early stages but there are significant teething problems and that’s being kind. So in today’s legal matters segment we are going to try to unpack the NDIS and look at what the government needs to do to improve the scheme for participants and their families. We are also going to discuss what you can do if you are unhappy with the decision made by the NDIS and how the review process works. We will learn about that. As always I’ve got a $100 Westfield voucher to give away. Turner Freeman Lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services including compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, employment law, wills and estates and property law, Dominique McGovern is a specialist in personal law including workers compensation and work injury damages, motor vehicle accident, public liability claims, medical negligence, superannuation and insurance law as well as NDIS appeals which is why she is here and she joins me in the studio right now. Dominique thank you very much for coming in.

DM     Good morning. Thanks for having me.

CS       Why is there so many legal issues associated with the NDIS? Am I right in saying that we are still after all at the beginning of a process that hasn’t quite been perfected yet? 

DM     That’s right. So when the NDIS you know started, obviously we wanted the role out to be clean cut and the communication to be open with experts in the field, disability advocates etc.  The role out was quite quick and fast and in turn there has been a lot of problems associated with that. There are also a lot of discrepancies in participants plans and there is people with disabilities who aren’t getting out of the NDIS what they should be so the individualised packages of support aren’t appropriate.

CS       They are not up to scratch in other words.

DM     That’s right.

CS       Okay. If you are in that boat and I know I’ve got a lot of listeners in this boat because we have raised this subject before and come up with the same answer but maybe you can get a little bit of clarification about what your next step might be with the help of Dominique but you’ve got to get in quick, don’t leave it to later because you simply won’t get answered. 131873. Just before the federal budget there was a lot of talk about the NDIS being under budget and of course that lead to the budget looking more favourable to the government then what it would have because we literally haven’t spent the money that was allocated in that first year right.

DM     That’s correct. There’s a lot of teething problems with the NDIS and they need to be corrected promptly.

CS       Should we be thankful for that for the fact that money hasn’t been handed out willy nilly, there is a predilection to hanging onto the money and making sure that we are giving it to the right people.

DM     Well there’s quite a few participants that have had to go all the way to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to prove their eligibility for certain support under the scheme.

CS       That sounds like a long process.

DM     It’s a horrendous process and particularly for people with disabilities or parents or carers for children with disabilities to be able to have to go through that long winded process of just proving that they require certain support under the scheme, particularly when you know, I have clients that have had to get so many different types of reports just to prove what sort of disability they have and the support that they require.

CS       So it’s not a single report on issues of disability?

DM     No.

CS       They have to require, they require multiple reports.

DM     That’s correct so for example say if you have a child with a dual diagnosis they might have intellectual disability autism speech and language delay, that child might require say speech pathology, physiotherapy, applied behavioural analysis therapy for their autism and a number of other therapies to support them in their early intervention and as they grow into an adult.  Now the problem is they will request for certain support under the scheme, some people, obviously are provided with what they need and others are not. The ones that are not then have to go through an internal review process by lodging an internal review application and then if that’s turned down they then have to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have their request externally reviewed. It’s a long winded process and to be honest in my experience, some people that have been denied with regards to certain supports that they have requested, it’s very litigious so it’s a complex area of law and the agency are a government department so therefore they have very experienced solicitors that are working for them and they also have in house lawyers as well.

CS       Sometimes fighting an immovable object. I’m hearing you. 131873 is the telephone number, Dominique McGovern will take your calls right after this break. Tracey, Dominique is listening. Go right ahead.

C1       Hi Dominique 

DM     Good afternoon.

C1       My question is I actually have a grandson that is on the NDIS and one of his carers has actually said that he needs to have this high chair to actually reach one of his goals and it’s a special high chair and it’s quite a bit of money. It’s probably about $800 or something like that and he has been denied that and I was wondering why would they deny that? 

DM     Sure so when you requested the high chair was that during your initial consultation with an NDIS planner? 

C1       No. 

DM     Okay so when did you request the high chair?

C1       Well that was requested actually after they had done that and then the carer had been coming to see him for a while and suggested that he needs one of those.

DM     So when you put your request in, did you put it in as a change of circumstances application? Or how long after, after you received the plan, how long did it take you to notify the NDIA about you need for the high chair?

C1       It was probably about 8 months later.  

DM     Okay so the situation here is that, is it an annual plan? 

C1       Yes it is. 

DM     Okay so if it’s a 12 months plan, if you’ve received the plan and you don’t notify the agency of the fact that you are unhappy with the NDIS plan within 3 months then the only way that you could ask the agency to change the plan with regards to that participant support being the high chair, you would basically have to submit a Section 48 change of circumstances so you would have to say that you know, I support the nature of your, was it your grandson did you say? 

C1       Yes. 

DM     Your grandson’s disability probably hasn’t changed as such but you need to be able to prove that there is some form of change. Now if you can’t then I would wait till the following annual plan review and then what you’ll need to do, you’ll need to prove to the NDIA so the scheme, why your grandson requires that special chair so you’ll need a particular report. Now it sounds to me that you will probably need an occupational therapist report to identify why your grandson needs that special chair. 

C1       Okay so he is already seeing an occupation therapist and she was the one that suggested that he needs to have one of those, and get that from her? 

DM     That’s right, yes so you just need to get a written report from that occupational therapist and then you need to provide that to the agency at your next annual plan review.   

CS       Okay Tracey, good advice. Thank you Dominique. Chris very quickly go ahead. 

C2       Hello. 

DM     Hello. 

C2       My name is Chris. My sister is severely disabled, my mum will be 61 years old this year and she is her full time carer. So the last few years I think my mum has had the NDIS scheme and every time she goes in with her planner to get what she needs, it’s much under budget for the care that she needs. She is like a high needs sort of disability so my mum is always stressed out, every time she has to do this she has to prove all these things and she never gets what she wants. The last two times she has gone on the radio and Ben Fordham has actually helped her but her disability is not going to get any better, she is severely disabled, why does she keep needing to prove every year that like, why should the plan change, why should the money go lower every year. 

CS       Can I interrupt there, this seems to be something you might want to deal with off air.   

DM     I could give her quick advice here. Look it is complex your question but one thing I would say is that you need evidence for those supports, now I agree with you having to define somebody’s disability every year, that shouldn’t be the case I mean the agency should have the reports about that permanent disability however. 

CS       I have got to leave it there. Chris can you stay on line and we will get Dominique to talk to you off line but this is a really interesting discussion. Dominique McGovern thank you very much for your time.   

DM     That’s okay, that’s fine.