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Disability agency chief rejects claims sustainability of NDIS in doubt following increase in autism diagnoses

An Interesting Article I thought I would share, which was found in the ABC online news.

Disability agency chief rejects claims sustainability of NDIS in doubt following increase in autism diagnoses – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Chief executive of the National Disability Insurance Agency David Bowen has rejected claims the sustainability of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is in doubt after an unexpected boom in autism diagnoses in trial sites across the country.

Mr Bowen told 7.30 the scheme was still operating “well within budget”, and was “not under threat at the moment”.

In South Australia, there are almost 5,000 children with an autism spectrum disorder who qualify for a funding package under the trial.

That is double the number of children than previously expected, and has resulted in huge cost blowouts for the NDIS.

Autism SA chief executive Barrie Elvish said the scheme’s administrators should have seen it coming.

“We were anticipating it, but I don’t believe the authorities necessarily were,” he said.

“I just don’t think they knew what was actually sitting out there bubbling away, we of course knew because it’s our area of expertise.”

Mr Elvish said the NDIS was faced with two choices: “They can say we need to narrow who is eligible, or we need to make sure we meet our commitments, and my view is very strongly we need to meet our commitments.”

Barrie Elvish appears on 7.30.

Today Mr Bowen reiterated his commitment to eligible children and their families saying despite the blowout in numbers, everyone eligible would still be covered.

In a report into early intervention treatments to be publicly released by the NDIS tomorrow, Mr Bowen put no limit on the cost of treatment, and recommended children receive 20 hours per week of early intervention to be reviewed after 12 months.

“It could be as simple as access to a play therapy group and some family therapy support right through to a high cost package,” he said.

“We have children in this scheme on packages over $100,000, it’s as broad as the diverse needs of children.”

But not everyone is convinced.

One of the Government’s own autism experts, Bob Buckley, who advised the NDIS on early intervention treatments, said the report’s findings about what worked best for children with autism were too vague.

He said he feared responsibility would fall on parents, not experts, to determine which therapies were most appropriate.

“Many parents will feel enormous guilt, stress and anxieties around not being able to meet best practice,” he said.

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