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Disability Services - NDIS and Equipment Access

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Tags: National Disability Insurance Scheme, Disability, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, in consultation with constituents preparing for these Estimates we were in contact with Kites, which is a children's therapy unit in Bellerive, that provides very important equipment for young children with a disability, which is often in dire shortage. They've detailed a problem which is really distressing for children and their families with disabilities who have made application to the NDIS but are still waiting to have their approval granted. This has been outlined in a letter for you from this group. I seek, Chair, to table this document for the minister so she can have a look at it.

CHAIR - You can't table the document but you can put it on the table for information. You can give it to the minister.

Dr WOODRUFF - I'll hand it to the minister for her information. It's signed by Savannah Boyd, who is an occupational therapist; Mim Firth, who's a physiotherapist and a clinic lead physiotherapist; and Janelle Burns, who is the program manager and senior speech pathologist. The problem is an entirely bureaucratic one which does have a solution and is quite easily resolved.

What happens is that when children make an application to the NDIS, the process often takes between six months and a year. During that long wait time, it can be very costly for individuals to have access to equipment like wheelchairs, support seats, walkers and commodes. These are obviously not optional items - they're essential to the everyday life of children and their families. How children accessed this equipment before NDIS was through TasEquip. TasEquip, as you know, is run by the health service. It still exists. It already has, according to Kites, a warehouse full of all sorts of paediatric equipment that is now sitting idle and unused. That equipment can be loaned for $50 a year, unless you have an NDIS plan.

What they propose, minister, is that the solution would be that in the interim period, until a person's NDIS has been approved and they're allowed to get funding for it, that TasEquip could simply change its policy and enable children, for this period, to continue to be able to access TasEquip equipment as if they didn't have an NDIS plan.

Ms COURTNEY - I appreciate the question and I'm not sure whether Ingrid or Mike have anything further to add. What I'm happy to do, having just been handed this, is to commit to take this away. Considering that we're dealing with a policy of an agency I'm not responsible for, I'd need to understand that policy a little bit better and I'm not in a position to do that now. But I'm happy to commit to take this away and engage with Mr Rockliff, and perhaps provide this organisation, Kites, and you with a response once we've had an opportunity to consider that. Obviously, I'm not in a position to commit to it but I know that the Department of Health is very pragmatic about wanting to support people in a range of ways. I can't commit to what they may or may not be able to do and I don't have knowledge, or the secretary here, about the suitability of the equipment or not. I'm happy to take that away with me and provide a response.