Why Toowoomba couple's NDIS plan was stripped of $100k
JUDY Trigger thought the National Disability Insurance Scheme was the chance for her husband Lindsay to enjoy a better life after a serious brain haemorrhage.
But the Toowoomba woman's dream has turned into a nightmare after the NDIS gutted Lindsay's plan by more than $100,000.
"I was shocked, absolutely shocked - suddenly, we were thrown into the deep end," Mrs Trigger said.
Mr Trigger's incident 10 years ago, which required five major surgeries, caused severe short-term memory loss.
His wife said he couldn't drive, catch a bus or remember new people, and often forgot his daily tasks.
"We have a joke about him being a goldfish," Mrs Trigger said.
"He remembers all before the brain injury, but new skills are very hard for him to learn."
The couple was approved in March last year for a generous care plan with the NDIS, complete with respite, cognitive therapy, transport and cleaning services.
"We got a wonderful care package, and it was much more than we expected," she said.
"We got $176,346 for Lindsay, because his needs are very complex."
But more than 60 per cent of his funding was slashed, down to just $60,000, following a review earlier this month, with the assessor reasoning that Mr Trigger hadn't used enough of his package.
The only problem? There weren't services available in Toowoomba to cater for him in the first place.
"We had been called in by the NDIS because we hadn't spent much of our funding," Mrs Trigger said.
"We were waiting to get into the right service and they gave many names but none of them had the right staff."
Mr Trigger didn't get into the right respite provider, Yellow Bridge, until the end of the year - but by then it was too late.
His physiotherapy and occupational therapy plans were either cut or greatly reduced because of the review.
Disability advocate Alyce Nelligan said she had received several complaints from NDIS clients in Toowoomba who suffered funding cuts, and feared it was part of a larger movement.
"I'm working with about five people trying to get their story heard," she said.
"We're looking at holding a forum to gauge how many people are having this experience.
"I think it's more widespread than we think."
Ms Nelligan said the complaints exposed a huge shortfall in the quality of disability service providers in south-west Queensland, particular for high needs patients like Mr Trigger.
"If the service providers can't provide that need, people don't use the funding - it wasn't their fault that they couldn't spend it," she said.
A spokesman for local area coordinator Carers Queensland said it had received no complaints about funding cuts.
The National Disability Insurance Agency said there was no "systematic direction" to reduce the value of plans.
"Participant plans will continue to reflect reasonable and necessary supports to achieve individual outcomes," a spokeswoman said.
"To suggest otherwise may cause unnecessary alarm and concern to participants, their families and carers, which is entirely unwarranted."
The spokeswoman said if a person was unhappy with a decision from the NDIA, they could submit a review.
"The reviewer must as soon as reasonably practicable, make a new decision," she said.
"The time taken to complete a review varies, dependent on the individual's circumstances and the complexity of their situation."