In my role as the Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, I am acutely aware as to how the COVID pandemic has been disproportionality affecting those Australians with a disability, as well as those doing the hard work in the disability sector.
The Morrison Government’s budget claims to be investing $3.9 billion into the NDIS, but this doesn’t make up for its $4.6 billion underspend last year. Australians with a disability deserve to have their NDIS plans fully funded to their needs, especially within the context of a pandemic.
The Government’s mismanagement of the NDIS has culminated with the revelation that Stuart Robert’s much-vaunted disability watchdog - is simply not doing its job and Australians with disability are dying as a result.
It is the job of the NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission to make sure NDIS providers are doing the right thing.
This $35m a year organisation has a 300-strong workforce, spends $1.5m jetsetting around and has an executive team paid $2m.
Under the Morrison Government’s watch it has received 8,168 complaints about the abuse, neglect and even fatalities of Australians with disability.
How many fines has it issued in that time?
Only one solitary fine, only one provider banned and only 22 individuals banned in two years despite thousands and thousands of tip offs.
It was also revealed that only one fine has been issued despite providers on more than 200 occasions failing to notify the watchdog of the death of a person with disability within five days of the fatality.
Mr Robert has presided over a toothless and sleepy disability watchdog that in reality is more like a very expensive purse poodle.
Australians with disability are such an afterthought to the Morrison Government the national COVID emergency response plan did not mention them once.
People with disability, NDIS participants like the late Ann Marie Smith and David Harris deserve a proper watchdog to protect them from abuse, neglect and premature mortality.
It is time for real action from Mr Robert not just more neglect.
I’ll be working hard to ensure that the Government stops simply neglecting the NDIS, ensuring Australians with a disability receive the proper funding and care they deserve.