10521 – Individual submission
My major concern regarding the NDIS is the division between the actual public service bureaucrats, the “delegates”, who decide what I can have in my plan and the Local Area Coordinators (LAC), employed through the St Vincents DePaul Society.
To put it simply, the person I can talk to has no power to make any meaningful decisions whereas the person who makes the decisions hides behind a restricted phone number so they can’t be contacted and doesn’t even have the common courtesy to use their own name in correspondence, again hiding by using only the first initial of their surname.
As result, any issues arising in the plan, even things that could have been sorted out easily in a face to face situation take months of bureaucratic processes to address. I want the person responsible for deciding my plan to be directly involved, face to face, in my planning meeting.
I would also like the review process to consider how this division between delegate and LAC has enabled the creation of a culture of cover up whereby delegates, hiding behind their anonymity, can evade responsibility for poor decisions and even acts of incompetence.
Specifically, I would bring to your attention my own experience. I will only outline it here, but I have all the relevant paperwork should this inquiry decide to look further into the matter.
The incident concerns the Regional Town Office. Provisions for bathroom modifications had been in my plans since my initial plan. A lack of NDIS registered builders meant that the modifications were carried over to successive plans. Finally in April this year a builder was found and the necessary paperwork submitted. In May the modifications were rejected on the grounds that they were not provided for in my current, although they clearly were. It appeared that the Delegate responsible for rejecting had not bothered to look properly at my plan – ie it appeared to be an act of incompetence on the delegates part. I tried, through the LAC, to get an explanation for this decision but was never given one. instead I was informed that the problem could be solved if I was to put in a change of circumstances form. As there had been no change in my circumstances this would only act to validate the original rejection – ie it would cover up what appeared to be an act of incompetence.
Consequently I submitted two complaints by email, both of which received computer generated acknowledgements of receipt but were otherwise ignored. Finally in August I sent a written complaint to the Canberra head office of the NDIA. As this was sent by registered mail so I know that it was received. However I am yet to receive a response.
Fortunately I also contacted the office of my local member, who sorted out the problem in a day and my modifications have now been approved. However, given the disruption to the builders schedules, work that should have been finished months ago will not be commenced until mid November. And of course my complaint against the delegate concerned has still not been addressed.
I would like the Inquiry to consider whether there is a culture of covering up incompetence, not only in the Regional Town Office, but within the NDIA in general. If so I would like to know what action will be taken to hold those responsible to account.