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The wait is over – disability funding break-through

8 Oct 2019

Disability advocates say funding changes that come into force today will be a game-changer for people living with disabilities.

Figures released today by Legal Aid NSW show that people with disabilities have had to wait up to almost two years in their fight to have their needs met under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Specialist lawyers at Legal Aid NSW have assisted almost all their clients to settle their matters before they reached a hearing at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

However, one client had to wait 646 days – almost two years – before they could access funding for their essential needs.

The average wait for clients was almost a year, or 332 days. For those seeking funding for disability-related health supports those days may now be over.

In June, the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments endorsed major reforms to improve the delivery of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Following the announcement, the NDIS will fund a range of disability-related health supports subject to certain conditions.

Legal Aid NSW lawyer Jackie Finlay, who heads the specialist NDIS team, said the new measures were a major win for her clients.

“We welcome these reforms for disability-related health supports, which will make the pathway for clients both clearer and faster,” she said.

“So for example, we spent nine months representing a client with multiple sclerosis to have registered nurses change their catheter. We eventually won the case, but this resulted in delays and stress for the client that were simply unnecessary.

“We hope that under the new rules, clients will be able to access life-changing services without the need to engage a lawyer.”

Disability Advocacy NSW CEO Mark Grierson has also welcomed the changes.

“Waiting one or two years for a decision isn’t acceptable in anyone’s language. Let’s hope these changes are the first steps in the right direction.”

“It’s vital the Commonwealth and State Governments work together on this and other areas to ensure fair outcomes for people with a disability and an improved NDIS experience in the future.”

Media Contact: William Verity (02) 9219 5669 or 0436 610 649

Clients represented by Legal Aid NSW lawyers in 2018/19

Whole of NSW

Matters settled: 29

Matters decided: 3

Average time taken to settle: 386 days

Average time taken to be decided: 332 days

Longest time taken to settle: 646 days

Longest time taken to be decided: 450 days

Regional breakdown

Sydney and Blue Mountains: 40

Hunter and Central Coast: 25

Illawarra & South East NSW: 4

New England: 4

North Coast & Mid North Coast: 5

Western NSW: 6