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Disability Advocates Call for Crucial Safeguards, Stripped through the Implementation of NDIS

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

This week we sadly see the topic of disability services politicised once again by the creation of a state and federal argument about who should fund what.

"The current argument in the political ring is about boundaries for funding. What the sector needs is a system where all agencies are working together instead of this separated approach that costs us a lot more and blows out budgets like we see through the NDIS", said Mr Night today.

"The most outrageous and shocking impact of the implementation and roll out of NDIS, is the reduction of the state community visitor programs that were the only statutory role going into disability service settings and checking on restrictive practices, checking funding was appropriate to the situation, checking on human rights abuse and access to services a person should have in place.

"The community visitor programs were our only real defence, check and balance with the power to escalate and ensure action from funding bodies and service providers for people that may not have the capacity to advocate for themselves.

"When the NDIS was rolled out the community visitor programs lost their statutory powers to escalate matters with state funding bodies because they were a state-based program and NDIS is federal. We saw a huge reduction in the place’s community visitors could visit and now they may only be visiting people that services providers report have restrictive practices.

"As we saw through the 4 Corners report, service providers being responsible for self-reporting human rights breaches they perpetrate, is an utterly stupid approach.

"I personally worked as a Community Visitor years ago through the Office of the Public Guardian and one of the biggest rolls I played was pointing out to service providers that they were using unauthorised restrictive practices. I would comfortably say the majority of adult service sites I visited where people with significant intellectual disabilities were living, unable to speak up for themselves, were using chemical and physical restraint, which was often not authorised. Without my visit and checks the service provider would continue to break the law and breach human rights through pure ignorance and a lack of education.

"While politicians’ debate, we must point out that this isn't a new idea from the NDIS review or the Royal Commission. Removing major safeguards like the community visitor programs 10 years ago and leaving the majority of people living in supported accommodation with no checks and balances is criminal in itself in my personal opinion.

"Removing our only real line of defence by independence agencies checking up, face to face with people living in supported accommodation created a perfect storm for fraud, criminal behaviour, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

"Implementing the Royal Commission recommendations will take decades. While this is done the atrocities being committed on people living with disability must stop and receive an immediate response and action.

"The current system is like telling drivers that if they are speeding to please remember to go and visit their local police station to dob themselves in because police are going to stop checking our roads.

"We call on state and federal government to immediately reintroduce the community visitor programs to all accommodation support settings as top priority. Those that face abuse, neglect, violence, and exploitation can’t wait another day.

"We ask all politicians, if it was your child would you be ok with a plan to safeguard them from abuse happening today, that will be implemented perhaps in the next decade or two?

“If one authentic action could come from the state and federal debates this week it would be to reintroduce the safeguards that were stripped away with the NDIS roll out immediately.

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