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1,200 Australians die waiting for NDIS payments

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 25: Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert (L) speak to media during a press conference at Parliament House on November 25, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. Australian spy agency ASIO is investigating reports China tried to plant an operative as an MP in a seat in Federal Parliament. Fairfax Media and Channel Nine's 60 Minutes reported over the weekend that Chinese intelligence agents offered a million dollars to pay for the political campaign of Liberal Party member Bo “Nick” Zhao, to run for a Melbourne seat. Nick Zhao was found dead in a Melbourne hotel room shortly after approaching ASIO about the offer, with his cause of death still unknown. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)
1,200 Australians die waiting for NDIS payments. Source: Getty

Over 1,200 Australians have died waiting to receive a National Disability Insurance Scheme package between July 2016 and September 2019, with wait times ranging between four and seven months, new reports show.

According to the Newscorp figures, 270 Queenslanders and 170 South Australians were among the 1,279 people who died waiting for support over the three-year period, and 65 were children.

South Australians had the longest wait in the nation, with wait times sitting at an average of 210 days - months longer than the national average of 121 days for children under six and 152 days for Australians aged seven or above.

Labor’s NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten called the wait times “disgraceful”, saying there needed to be more staff and more accountability.

In response to the figures, Minister for the NDIS told Yahoo Finance: “The Government has been focussing on improving access decision times for the NDIS - this is evidenced by new data that shows, as at 31 December 2019, access decisions for the NDIS were taking on average 4 days to complete.

“The NDIS was also 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 state supports until participants received an approved NDIS plan.”

NDIS overhaul

In November last year Robert announced the controversial payments scheme would be overhauled, after conceding Australians weren’t satisfied.

In announcing the restructure, Robert said the key areas where the NDIS was failing were long wait times, poor access and financial stability.

With new data showing the NDIS scheme now has over 310,000 participants (up from 30,000 in 2016), Robert estimated the sector would require at least 90,000 more workers in the next five years to deal with the influx of participants.

At the time, Robert did not mention the staggering number of deaths that had occurred as a result of the long wait times.

Robert said the scheme was to be a “demand driven system” and “uncapped”, but Australians weren’t convinced.

“There is no way the #NDIS could ever be considered a demand driven system,” social group Every Australian Counts stated.

“There are too many gaps, hoops, loopholes, potholes, booby traps, dead-end mazes and endless miles of red tape for it ever to be considered to be demand driven.”

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