The Disability Minister has denied media reports that people died while waiting to be allocated NDIS funding.

New Corp media reported on Wednesday that between 2016 and 2019, more than 1,200 Australians, including 65 children, died while waiting for an NDIS package. 

The claims were broadly condemned by media around the country.

But Disability Minister Stuart Robert has denied the claims, despite the prime minister noting the deaths were “unacceptable” and the data originally coming from his own office.

On 2GB radio this morning, in an interview with journalist Deborah Knight, Mr Roberts said, “Those figures are not even remotely correct”.

“No one has passed away waiting for the NDIS.”

Mr Roberts told HelloCare, “The Government has been focussing on improving access decision times for the NDIS – this is evidenced by new data that shows, as at 31 December 2019, access decisions for the NDIS were taking on average 4 days to complete.”

He told HelloCare those transitioning to the NDIS continue to receive government support.

“The NDIS was also designed to ensure people with disability transitioning to the new scheme from state or Commonwealth programs over the last three years continued to receive their existing disability-related state supports until participants received an approved NDIS plan.”

“I understand the anguish that the people have got,” Minister Robert told 2GB radio.

Prime Minister said deaths “unacceptable”

When prime minister Scott Morrison was asked about the deaths, he said “I think that was unacceptable.”

“Those reports today referred to the difficulties that were being followed over 2016 to 2019,” he said.

“I should stress that during that time it was also during a very significant ramp up of the transition of people from state based services to Commonwealth services,” the prime minister said. 

The data

According to the media report, between July 2016 and September 2019, 1,279 Australians, including 65 children, died while waiting for an NDIS package. 

At the time, people waited four months on average to receive the support they were assessed as needing. During that period, 270 Queenslanders and 170 South Australians died.

The national average wait time was 121 days for children aged six and under and 152 days for Australians aged seven or older. 

By comparison, South Australians had to wait 210 days on average, while Queenslanders only had to wait 90 days for those under six and 122 days for people aged seven or older.

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