ABC Radio AM with Chris Uhlmann and Lexi Metherell
The timetable for delivering national disability insurance is under review after a damning assessment of the decision to launch the scheme a year early.
The Federal Disabilities Minister commissioned an assessment of the agency running the program late last year. It says Labor’s decision to fast-track the scheme has meant the focus has been on launching trials at the cost of preparing for the full roll-out.
The Disability Insurance Agency is now reviewing its ability to deliver the scheme within the current time frame. Lexi Metherell reports.
The former Labor government began trialling the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) last July, a year earlier than the Productivity Commission had recommended.
The current Disabilities Minister Mitch Fifield says it was only 12 days before the trials started that the NDIS Agency board was announced.
The Agency is like a plane that took off before it had been fully built and is being completed while it’s in the air.
The Minister’s released a review of the Agency. It’s found the early commencement of the scheme has compromised the ability of the organisation.
It says the agency’s IT system is not fit for purpose, senior management positions still haven’t been filled, internal communications are poor and staff aren’t clear about who’s responsible for what.
The Agency’s workload will soar once the full roll-out begins to up to 300,000 people with disabilities from 2017. The review says that plan should be reassessed.
What this report says is that because the Agency has had to work in compressed timeframes, they haven’t had the capacity to do the work that they want to do and should do to prepare for the full nationwide roll-out.
So does that mean that the full nationwide roll-out won’t be able to happen as it’s currently scheduled to happen, on time?
The full nationwide roll-out will happen under this Government.
But will it happen to the timetable that’s been set?
The timetables are in intergovernmental agreements and, as I’ve said, the board of the Agency, the independent board of the Agency, is going to be doing further work and advising governments as to whether there are implications from the capability review for their ability to deliver full roll-out in the current timeframe.
The disability sector is hoping the full roll-out of the scheme isn’t delayed. The chief executive of National Disability Services Ken Baker is optimistic the scheme can be delivered on time.
It’s too early in the launch to decide that the road ahead is too steep. We always knew it was going to be challenging, we always knew there was a huge amount of hard work to do, but I think it’s too early at this stage to say let’s slow down.
The Commonwealth says the next three trial sites in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT will launch as planned in July.