Macarthur residents 'slipping through the cracks' under the NDIS

Debbie and Leanne Matthews consider themselves some of the “lucky ones” when it comes to dealing with the NDIS.

The mother and daughter from Currans Hill attended a forum held in Austral today which provided NDIS users with a chance to have their say on the scheme.

Ms Matthews said Leanne had achieved many things since the NDIS was bought in.

“She gets to go a day program and go out with her friends just like any other 35-year-old would,” she said.

“We have definitely been lucky when dealing with the NDIS.

“We have always had our questions answered – but it’s obvious that a lot of people here today haven’t.”

The Every Australian Counts: Make it Work forum was held at The Junction Works, a disability service provider in Austral.

Lucky: Debbie and Leanne Matthews have praised how the NDIS has handled their care. Picture: Kayla Osborne

Lucky: Debbie and Leanne Matthews have praised how the NDIS has handled their care. Picture: Kayla Osborne

It was well attended with more than 100 people packing the organisation’s function room.

Every Australian Counts spokeswoman Kirsten Deane said the forum was organised to find out about how the NDIS was affecting Macarthur residents.

“We all knew the NDIS was a great idea but we need it to work,” she said.

“People with a disability, their families and people who worked in the sector fought for it to be established but [we] still need it to be delivered as promised.

“It’s not where we want to be – this is not the NDIS that we fought for.

“It has too many problems at the moment so we are hosting these forums as a way to find out from people how the NDIS is affecting them.”

Junction Works chief executive Chris Campbell was a guest speaker at the forum.

He said that while some families were benefiting from the scheme, many were “slipping through the cracks”.

“It’s fair to say that everyone agrees with the concept of the NDIS but it’s the implementation that gets in the way,” he said.

“The processes are too involved and there are too many complications.

“I think there is more time spent on frustration than time spent enjoying what the NDIS should be.”

Attendees were critical of the fact that all local MPs were invited, though none of them chose to attend.

Ms Deane said the MPs would still hear what attendees had to say.

“We had a few sincere apologies from local politicians but don’t worry – we want them to hear from you,” she said.

“We will be writing all of the details down and sending your thoughts to them and we will let you know how they respond.”

Information gathered at 17 similar forums held across Australia will also be presented to parliament. 

Ms Deane said she wanted all attendees to feel heard.

“We want you to leave this forum feeling hopeful,” she said.

“A lot of people thought we wouldn’t have the NDIS but we got it – now we just have to make it work.”