We are in the extraordinary position of a client who is in a supported independent living (SIL) arrangement being refused plan review by NDIA. This client has a legally appointed guardian for decision making (Office of the Public Guardian), a support coordinator external to GSL and I believe the LAC is also involved. Adding to the story for the young man at the center (MC) is his forensic order, meaning other formal and external parties are involved. All of this, and still no review in response to a change of living circumstances!
I understand NDIS is in rollout phase and that we are working to the 'untested' policies and procedures. Over time complaints and tribunal outcomes will shape the system. I get this and I have patience. I also have a degree of understanding when we receive more than one response to the same question, dependent on who we talk to within NDIA. Rollout in our region was only this year, and all employees are new. It is frustrating that SIL was first managed from Townsville, then it seemed to be localised to Cairns and now has been centralised. I get it - there's a lot of turmoil, and much settling in to do. I understand all this ...
What I don't understand is MC's situation. It's particularly baffling when I think about the extent of his formal support network. Naturally, we are provider, so we have no voice in this conversation. All must go through MC and his guardian, with support coordinator and LAC acting in response. Well, what happens when this doesn't happen?
MC has an intellectual impairment and although he understands there is a problem, he does not fully comprehend implications. He knows his supports are funded on a share model (1:2) and he knows his house-mate moved out.
We know supports should be halved. We also know the span of support NDIA deemed reasonable and necessary for MC and, although we are in no way responsible, we know the implications in relation to the forensic order:
a forensic order is more likely to be made than a treatment support order if the Mental Health Court considers that a higher level of supervision and oversight is necessary to protect the safety of the community.
I understand the Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld) is State jurisdiction, and NDIA is not obliged to provide supports to suit Queensland's Mental Health Court. However, I would have thought the Court identified risk to community safety would add emphasis to our concerns about halving the span of support hours. We cannot continue span by paying half and advising the support worker team that we there is no pay for the vacant half.
Halving supports opens MC to less supervision and oversight and higher risk of re-offending or breaching his order. We do not want to see another victim of crime in our community, nor do we want to see MC becoming more entangled with the law. We all know where this is likely to go for MC, and it is not NDIA's vision of an ordinary life!
Even if NDIA does not recognise this problem, I would have thought OPG would see it. Apparently not.
Each time we engage with NDIA the conversations diverts to NDIA not funding provider vacancy. This is not a conversation about vacancy (that's a whole other blog!). When the house mate moved out in January, MC's living circumstances changed dramatically so we notified NDIA of the 'change of circumstances' in the belief this would trigger a review. It did not. Follow up contact with NDIA has consistently diverted to vacancy conversations. This is not the problem we want to solve.
Reframed as clearly as I can manage, our question is:
what happens to people who are assessed as only being eligible for shared support when circumstances beyond their control means they are on their own?