A couple of months ago I spoke in this place about a constituent of mine, Michael Luciano.
Michael’s 13 and he has severe global delay, epilepsy and cerebral palsy.
And like a lot of people it seems, his mum and his dad have been put through the ringer by the NDIS.
A year ago the National Disability Insurance Agency approved his NDIS plan – which included funding for a standing frame.
This is needed, according to his physiotherapist, to help Michael to walk again after a hip operation that he went through last year.
A year on and Michael’s mum and dad are still waiting for the standing frame that they need to help Michael to walk again.
In May this year the NDIA told Michael’s mum and dad that they’d decided that they weren’t going to fund the standing frame for Michael.
They made this decision, they said, because Michael was not able to use a standing frame for more than 30 minutes a day.
That seems fair enough. The only problem with that is that Michael’s mum and dad tell me that is factually wrong. They say that he can use a standing frame for a lot more than 30 minutes a day.
They’ve currently got a leased standing frame at home. It’s too small for him, it doesn’t have all the functions that he needs but I’m told by his mum and his dad that he can use it for at least an hour a day. Sometimes twice a day.
It’s a simple mistake, one that you’d think should be able to be easily fixed.
As I said I have spoken about this in this place before and I, in June wrote to the Minister responsible for the NDIS, Christian Porter and asked him to intervene to fix it up.
I have now got a letter back from the Minister. But all the letter does is repeat the claims that have been made by the NDIA before that Michael can only stand in a standing frame for a maximum of 30 minutes.
It seems like no one in the NDIA or the Minister’s office has even bothered to read the letter that I wrote.
I said in that letter what Michael’s parents have told me - that he can use a standing frame for more than an hour a day.
If the NDIA doesn’t think that’s right, wouldn’t you think that they would organise over the last few months for Michael to be independently tested?
That would seem to me to be a sensible thing to do.
But that hasn’t happened. All we’ve got is this letter saying the things that his parents tell me are factually wrong.
That’s not good enough.
Decisions like this mean that Michael could be stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
There’s more and more cases like this that are starting to come through my door. Families that are telling me that there are problems with the NDIS.
We have got to get this right.
It’s a great initiative, and it has so much promise.
We can’t afford to let people like Michael down.
So I urge the Government, I urge the Minister and I urge the NDIA – to please have a look at this again and please organise some independent testing of what Michael’s mum and dad are saying so that he gets the services he needs.
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