By ASHLEIGH PISANI
Misleading criticism of the nation’s landmark National Disability Insurance Scheme came to light on Monday with claims of South Australia’s trial being “botched”, being a year behind schedule and having double the number of eligible clients than was expected.
The Minister responsible for overseeing the scheme is alleged to have called South Australia’s program “the worst in the nation” and there are claims that children under the age of six are the only ones receiving services under the NDIS.
However, according to a spokesperson from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) the trial of the NDIS in South Australia is on track to reach the targets set by the Commonwealth and South Australian governments ahead of schedule.
“For those people currently waiting to access the trial in the state, the agreement between the South Australian and Federal governments is that existing supports remain in place until they transition across,” the spokesperson said.
Therefore it is only those children above the age of six that have existing supports in place that are not yet covered by the NDIS. All children aged up to 13 with no existing supports have an NDIA plan in place.
The number of eligible children was overwhelming underrepresented in the bilateral agreement between the State and the Commonwealth Government because the number was based on the existing participants within the South Australian system at the time.
This was a system that was woefully underfunded and inequitable with former Prime Minister Julia Gillard comparing it to “a cruel lottery” and which did not provide anywhere near the level of assistance needed to South Australians with disability, their families and carers.
Therefore, it is a grossly unfair to call the NDIS trial in South Australia “botched” when it is the inadequacies of the previous system that made it impossible to predict the higher number of eligible participants.
If anything it highlights the necessity of the NDIS given the number of South Australians with disabilities that were previously receiving no care at all.
You would have thought that Social Services Minister Scott Morrison would have explained this in light of the criticisms of the South Australian pilot program rather than pile on another attack.
To use the greatest social reform since Medicare, which is changing the lives of South Australians with disability to disparage the State Labor Government and advance his political interests, and not for the first time and not even accurately, raises doubts about his commitment to the scheme.
Some things should be above partisan politics and the National Disability Insurance Scheme is definitely one of them.