NDIS WAIT: Beverley Rubenach’s visiting her son Tim Rubenach’s grave who died while on the wait list for help from the NDIS. Picture: Wolfgang Glowacki
NDIS WAIT: Beverley Rubenach’s visiting her son Tim Rubenach’s grave who died while on the wait list for help from the NDIS. Picture: Wolfgang Glowacki

Rocky MP ‘sickened’ by shocking NDIS wait list death rate

SHOCKING new figures revealing more than 1200 Australians have died in just three years while waiting for National Disability Insurance Scheme support, including an average of almost two Queenslanders a week, have Barry O'Rourke "feeling sick".

The Rockhampton MP has hit out at the Federal Government over its "absolutely disgusting" handling of the NDIS rollout where 270 Queenslanders were revealed to be among the 1279 people who died waiting an average of four months for support from July 2016 to September 2019.

SADLY MISSED: Severe epilepsy sufferer Tim Rubenach died in May 2018 aged 32 of pneumonia while still on the wait list for help from the NDIS and his mother Beverley Rubenach wants greater government action to fix the problem. Picture: Wolfgang Glowacki
SADLY MISSED: Severe epilepsy sufferer Tim Rubenach died in May 2018 aged 32 of pneumonia while still on the wait list for help from the NDIS and his mother Beverley Rubenach wants greater government action to fix the problem. Picture: Wolfgang Glowacki

While wait times in Queensland were shorter than the national average, they were still an average of three months or 90 days for children under six, and four months or 122 days for those aged seven and older in 2018-19.

While Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has provided a defence of her government's handling of the NDIS, Mr O'Rourke was angry Minister for the NDIS Stuart Robert had not responded.

Minister for the NDIS Stuart Robert Photo: Mick Tsikas
Minister for the NDIS Stuart Robert Photo: Mick Tsikas

"It is absolutely unacceptable for the minister to be dodging questions about this," Mr O'Rourke said.

"He needs to not only face the public but the families of the people who have died waiting for care."

Mr O'Rourke described the NDIS as a "complete mess" which had been managed ­terribly and underfunded by $4.6 billion.

"Now we find out kids, including some less than six years old, are dying while they wait for crucial support," he said.

"This is absolutely disgusting. The NDIS was set up to help our most vulnerable. They deserve better than this.

"I can't tell you how many people have complained to me about the endless hoops they have had to jump through to try and get the support they need for themselves or a loved one."

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said he’d like to see the Federal Government streamline the NDIS to make it easier to receive support.
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said he’d like to see the Federal Government streamline the NDIS to make it easier to receive support.

He said it was heartbreaking, and not how the system was supposed to work.

"The Federal Government needs to fund NDIS at the correct level and stop using this underspend to try and prop up their budget surplus. This is people's lives we are talking about," he said.

"I ALSO think it's pretty clear we need a serious review of the way the NDIS is run - we need to make the process smoother for the families involved so they can get the assistance they need as soon as possible."

Labor's NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten said the number of people dying before receiving the equipment or care they needed was "disgraceful".

He said providing a time frame for decisions was crucial, as was the need for more staff and greater accountability.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the Federal Government was focusing on improving access decision times for the NDIS.

Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry had plans in the works to set decision making time frames for the NDIS.
Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry had plans in the works to set decision making time frames 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 four days to complete and 77 days for a first plan to approved," Ms Landry said.

"The NDIS was also designed to ensure people with disability transitioning to the new scheme from state or Commonwealth programs over the past three years continued to receive their existing disability-related state supports until participants received an approved NDIS plan.

"Like all Australians, NDIS participants continue to be supported through the health system irrespective of their eligibility for the NDIS."

Ms Landry said her government planned to set new time-frames for NDIS decision-making in law this year, including a deadline of 50 days for children aged six and under to have plans approved.

"It's part of an election promise for an NDIS "Participant Service Guarantee", due to be rolled out from July 1," she said.