‘National disgrace’: Karl unloads on NDIS deaths
Today host Karl Stefanovic has laid into the much-maligned National Disability Insurance Scheme, labelling it a "national disgrace".
A story published by the Adelaide Advertiserthis morning revealed the scheme was particularly bad in South Australia, with the southern state enduring the longest wait times for NDIS support packages.
South Australians are waiting more than 200 days for support with kids younger than six waiting seven months for help from the government.
The horrific national statistics also revealed over the past three years, 1279 people had died while waiting for support from the scheme. Among the 1279, 65 of those deaths were children - 35 of whom were aged six and under.
Stefanovic described the deaths as "disturbing".
"More than 400 people have died every year waiting for access to the NDIS. Sixty five children, 35 of whom are under six years of age. It's unbelievable," he said.
"Late last year the minister in charge Stuart Robert said waiting times categorically weren't a problem. If 65 children dying in this children, if those figures are to be believed isn't a problem, then you need help minister."
Mr Robert told ABC Radio late last year he had dropped waiting times for the NDIS.
"Waiting times, when I came into the portfolio, in terms of access to a plan, were 130 days. And they have come right down now into the 80s. So they're coming down as well," he said in November.
"Importantly, after the election there were over 13,000 Australians waiting over 21 days for access into the NDIS. That, of course, now is zero. There is no waiting list for people to access into the NDIS scheme."
When questioned if complaints from service providers about wait times were wrong, Mr Robert doubled down.
"It's a large scheme and there's lots of people all over the country. And I look at the big macro numbers at the top and I know categorically there is no-one waiting for access," he said.
In a statement to Today this morning, Mr Robert said the government was "focusing on improving access decision times for the NDIS".
The government also referred to new data from December 31 last year that showed access decisions were taking "on average four days to complete".
"I'm not sure where he's living," Stefanovic responded.
"Those facts aren't right for a lot of people across this country."
Labor's NDIS spokesman and former Labor leader Bill Shorten also said there needs to be "more staff and accountability".
"It's disgraceful more than 1200 people died before receiving equipment or care they needed," Mr Shorten told the morning show.
"Well said Bill Shorten," Stefanovic added.
"Those figures are a national disgrace."