Ballarat woman denied face-to-face NDIS meeting

A mother from the Ballarat suburb of Delacombe says National Disability Insurance Scheme planners refused to assess her daughter’s needs in person, citing lack of funds.

Gayle Bird, whose 23-year-old daughter Tori has the mental age of a three to five year-old-child, said planners insisted only her daughter could answer questions about her disability.

Her claims run counter to National Insurance Agency policy which entitles all clients to face-to-face meetings.

“She needs help with every part of her personal care. Because of her autism she’ll always say the word ‘yes’ without any understanding.

“They’ll say ‘do you want to do this?’ And she’ll say ‘yes’. She takes a week sometimes to comprehend what the question was and then will come up and say ‘I don’t want this and I don’t like this’.”

Tori’s NDIS plan, which has now been approved, included activities and services which were inappropriate or unnecessary, her mother said.

Mrs Bird said the plan also listed “goals” for Tori which she never stated, including accessing daily activities independently, and planners would “tell” her what she wanted.

“It isn’t about her needs. 

“We had funding for someone to teach her to go out into the community, to teach her to catch a bus. She doesn’t understand time, she doesn’t understand bus changes. She’s got no sense between a 5 cent piece and $50 note.”

Grampians disAbility Advocacy executive officer Debbie Verdon told The Courier this week people with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities were struggling to secure face-to-face meetings to discuss their needs.

Planning assessments are intended to determine what “reasonable and necessary support” a person requires under the scheme however some clients didn’t understand who was calling or the questions they were being asked, Ms Verdon said.

A spokesperson for the National Disability Insurance Agency said the agency acknowledged the family should have been given a face-to-face meeting.

They said NDIA had apologised to the family and offered an assessment in-person.