rejecting autistic children - NDIS response is especially unhelpful

Subject: Re: NDIS rejecting autistic children
Date: Sat, 9 Jan 2021 11:25:08 +1100
From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <convenor@a4.org.au>
To: The Hon Stuart Robert MP <stuart.robert.mp@aph.gov.au>, MINISTERIAL <MINISTERIAL@ndis.gov.au>
CC: Hughes, Hollie (Senator) <senator.hughes@aph.gov.au>, senator.griff@aph.gov.au, The Hon. Mr. Shorten MP <Bill.Shorten.MP@aph.gov.au>, Milton.Dick.MP@aph.gov.au, Senator Jordon Steele-John <senator.steele-john@aph.gov.au>, Committee, Autism (SEN) <autism.sen@aph.gov.au>, Senator Carol Brown <senator.carol.brown@aph.gov.au>, Committee, NDIS (SEN) <ndis.sen@aph.gov.au>, senator.siewert@aph.gov.au

Dear Minister

I received the attached response from the NDIS (MC20-002360) on 8/1/2021. The response, from the NDIS on your behalf, refuses to answer legitimate questions (see below) on, or to provide essential information about, the NDIS recognising formal diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder made by state agencies.

The response says:

After reviewing the four questions that you have articulated in your correspondence I recommend that you direct your inquiries on qualifications to the ACT CDS and that you contact state or territory jurisdictions for understanding which of their agencies are responsible for the provision of diagnostic services for children with ASD.

While it is reasonable for the NDIS to respond that Question 1 might be better directed to ACT CDS (which we already did), the other three questions are clearly legitimate questions for the NDIS. The NDIS's refusal to address these questions:

  1. bring the lack of response into the scope of A4 unanswered questions policy (as noted in our original email to you); and
  2. is yet another failure of "the Morrison Government’s commitment to demonstrate full transparency of the NDIS" (see https://ministers.dss.gov.au/media-releases/5016).

It is completely unreasonable for the NDIS to suggest on your behalf that the ACT CDS should answer for NDIS policy and know the details of services provided in other states.

The NDIS's response suggests we look in the NDIS Quarterly Reports for "information (including statistics) about participants in each jurisdiction and the funding or provision of supports by the NDIA in each jurisdiction".

First, that is not what we asked about. We would prefer that responses to our questions actually addressed the issues we asked about.

Second, we are familiar with these reports. These reports do not contain the information we asked for; referring us to them is unhelpful, it is complete misinformation. We are also quite familiar with data published by the NDIS. Again, these data do not answer the question s we asked; if it did we would not have asked the questions. We are not in the habit of burdening Government with tasks we can do ourselves. 

The response also suggests "You may also like to register for additional data and insights in a range of formats including downloadable reports and spreadsheets, analysis and presentations". When we tried to register, as suggested, it says "convenor@a4.org.au is already subscribed to list Public Data Share". The author of the response could have checked this before making this pointless suggestion.

Clearly, the response the NDIS provided is especially unhelpful.

Bob Buckley
Convenor, Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4)
website: https://a4.org.au/

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, known as A4, is the national grassroots organisation advocating for autistic people, their families, carers and associates. A4 is internet based so that Australians anywhere can participate.
Note for politicians and bureaucrats – Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia's policy on unanswered questions is available at https://a4.org.au/node/1419.

“The first step in solving any problem is recognising there is one.” Jeff Daniels as Will McEvoy in The Newsroom.

On 10/12/2020 8:59 am, Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) wrote:

Dear Minister

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia has received reports of the NDIA rejecting children seeking NDIS supports who were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by the ACT Child Development Service (CDS). These NDIS applicants were told their application failed because the NDIS does not accept the qualifications of the staff at the ACT's CDS service.

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia has several questions for you.

  1. Are staff at the ACT ACT Child Development Service qualified to diagnose autism spectrum disorder? If not, why does the ACT CDS not employ properly qualified staff?
  2. Which states and territories fund diagnostic services for autistic children whose diagnoses the NDIS rejects?
  3. How many NDIS applications were rejected because a staff at a state-funded diagnostic service are not sufficiently qualified staff? If this relates to more than one state or territory or disability type, then please provide the break down by state and by disability type.
  4. Even if the staff are not qualified to diagnose ASD, are they able to diagnose "developmental delay" as defined in Section 9 of the NDIS Act 2013? Why would an ASD diagnosis from ACT CDS not mean a child aged 0-6 years has Developmental Delay or Global Developmental Delay (described in  the DSM-5) hence meets eligibility criteria for the NDIS?

Please note A4's policy on unanswered questions (see link below). This matter is urgent: we need answers to the above questions within 2 weeks.

--

Bob Buckley
Convenor, Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4)
website: https://a4.org.au/

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, known as A4, is the national grassroots organisation advocating for autistic people, their families, carers and associates. A4 is internet based so that Australians anywhere can participate.
Note for politicians and bureaucrats – Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia's policy on unanswered questions is available at https://a4.org.au/node/1419.

“The first step in solving any problem is recognising there is one.” Jeff Daniels as Will McEvoy in The Newsroom.

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