The New South Wales government has encouraged feedback on state disability legislation amid reports that more than 1000 people have died while waiting for their National Disability Insurance Scheme plan.
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the Disability Inclusion Act 2014 would be reviewed to ensure it’s relevant and fit-for-purpose under the NDIS.
The act currently requires the development of a State Disability Plan, calls on government bodies to prepare disability inclusion action plans, and helps the state disability council advise the minister on matters affecting people with disability.
The review will look at ways to improve Disability Inclusion Action Plans, Ward said. He argued the discussion paper released on Thursday highlights the changing landscape of disability services in Australia.
“Under the NDIS, more than 40,000 people in NSW are receiving disability supports for the first time, but the reality is that the state’s roles and responsibilities when it comes to service delivery have changed significantly,” he said.
“I want to see a greater focus on employment for people with disabilities and wider promotion of Disability Inclusion Action Plans in both the government and non-government sectors.”
The discussion paper comes following revelations that 1279 people died between submitting an access request and receiving supports under the NDIS.
NDIS minister Stuart Robert has slammed the reports, despite the figures coming from the National Disability Insurance Agency.
“The reporting today that people have tragically passed away, the fact that they’ve passed away of course is correct, but no one has passed away waiting for the NDIS,” he told 2GB on Wednesday.
“Those figures are from July 2016 through to mid-2019. From three and half years old to six months old.”
A spokesperson for Robert said the minister does not deny the figures, he merely “disputes how they were framed in today’s media”.
“The minister was referring to the fact that the NDIS was designed to ensure people with disability transitioning to the new scheme from state or Commonwealth programs over the last three years continued to receive their existing disability-related supports until participants received an approved NDIS plan,” they told The Guardian.
The public can have their say on the discussion paper online via a survey or during face-to-face workshops, which will be held in February and March. There will be two workshops in Sydney, two in regional NSW and a consultation session with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Dubbo.
All feedback must be submitted by March 30. For more information about the review and participation, contact [email protected] or 02 9716 3429.