Our situation featured on 60 minutes in mid-2022.  The home modifications builder we engaged claimed all the money from NDIS without completing the home modification for our daughter. 

The builder walked off the job because we refused to sign for the variations claim he wanted to get from NDIS.  First of all, the so called variations were mistakes he made during the construction and not going according to the plan by the OT.  Secondly, we are not authorised to approve any variations from the plan without the OT’s approval.  Those were unjust claims we opposed too. 

When the builder did not show up, we then found out from the LAC that he had already made claim and got the full payment from NDIS.  We made a complaint to NDIS Quality and Safeguards and also Fair Trading.  Quality and Safeguards mistakenly sent the acknowledgment of our complaint to the builder instead of us, which prompted the builder to claim the variations costs from us instead.  Fair Trading did not even give us a chance to send in our evidence and ruled us to pay the builder.   

NDIA at first rebuilt my daughter’s plan to get another builder to complete the job, then a week later they changed their mind, saying “Given the provider has claimed the money, he needs to complete the work”.  And in order for the builder to come back and complete the work, he was demanding us to pay him $8,000+ for those variations which we were disputing.  And these variations claimed were pertaining to an NDIS contract, yet NDIA asked us to deal with it ourselves. 

With all these stress and heartaches, my husband fell into depression.  He couldn’t get out of bed and couldn’t work.  He is now still on anti-depressants.  All the weeks and efforts of us proving our reasonings to official departments and being turned against had totally defeated us.  This matter had caused us so much unneeded grief. 

The builder then made used of the Security of Payments Act, and we lost in the adjudication.  We ended up having to pay $8,000+, and the adjudication fees.  We are also out of pocket to get another builder to partially complete the bathroom.  The state of the bathroom when the builder left was unusable – unfinished tiling, no toilet, no shower, no bathroom accessories.  We also had to engage a building inspector to write a report and there were almost $9,000 of defects, $20,000 worth of unfinished work.  Also not forgetting we have to pay a lawyer to help us during the adjudication process.  We are now heavily in debt.   

We couldn’t afford the home modification in the first place that’s why we applied for it.  Now we deeply regretted it.  We would have been better off without asking NDIA for help.   

Fast forward to after the 60 minutes’ story.  NDIA informed us yet again they are not going to help reimburse any money.  They are not answering our questions why they paid the builder without checking that the job is finished.  Why they turned their back on us.  Seems like they would rather enable their service provider to get away with the fraud than protect the participant and family.   

After our multiple phone calls and emails to Bill Shorten’s advisor and NDIS senior complaint officer, NDIA agreed to pay for the unfinished job, but none of the other costs. 

We are still out of pocket for the adjudication costs that were unjustly paid to the builder, the defects that needed to be addressed, and lawyer’s fees that we had sought to help us fight the builder because of NDIA negligence.   

We received an email from Shorten’s advisor on a Friday evening at 6pm, asking us to upload the receipts into the portal for payment of claims for reimbursement from core, or to pay invoices for Service Providers.  We had already sent all the receipts and the building inspector’s report for the defects (multiple times).  More importantly, these costs should not have to be taken out from my daughter’s plan as she will be left with even minimal funding for other much needed services because of NDIA mistakes.  Further, we are plan managed, so we can’t put stuff into the portal ourselves.  We need the reimbursement to come direct o us from the NDIA, not from our daughter’s plan. 

Then, The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission sent us an email, stating no further action will be taken against the builder and they are closing our complaint. 

This is so wrong in so many ways.   

This whole matter happened in May.  We have bills to pay, and extra interests incurred because we had to take out loans to pay for the above.  The stress and frustration with NDIA delays and denial tactics are just too much. 

We finally had a zoom meeting in mid-March (after almost 3 months wait) and NDIA came back to us with a non-negotiable settlement covering about half of what we had forked out.  They refused to acknowledge the adjudication payment we paid to the builder.  They also refused to acknowledge the defects still existed in the bathroom by the builder.  We were advised to go fair trading or make a complaint to Quality and Safeguards Commission, which we had already been down that road.  NDIA said the builder is NDIS Quality and safeguards Commission registered provider, not NDIA, which I do not understand. 

Weighing the pros and cons of going to court, we decided to accept the settlement.  We do not have the money and energy to fight any further.   

They promised to get the letter and the money within a week, but that did not happen.  #we still heard nothing, despite us emailing and calling.  They are really good at ignoring us.   

Then we went to our local MPs office to make them call Bill Shorten’s office.  They did for, but they said there’s nothing they can really do except wait.  That afternoon we finally received an email from NDIA that they will process the settlement with condition that we are not to make any more claims, complaints etc regarding the modification and the case will be closed and resolved.   

Hopefully they don’t change their minds as they did that to my daughter’s plan – where they said they will fund another builder to finish the bathroom and then a week later withdrew.   

The stress NDIA caused is really disturbing.  They caused my husband’s depression, his months of lost income because he couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t work or think.  They cost us extra bank interest because we had to get a loan to pay the builder and a lawyer.  My credit card was declined twice at the shops, and I had to put groceries back.   

NDIA is not only not repaying us fully, but taking their own sweet time.  We still haven’t received the settlement payment, and nobody how long it will take. 

And the builder is still a provider, after making fraudulent claims. 

An update

In early April, we finally received the payment due from NDIS and they actually repaid the full amount (except the defects)! We were very surprised because their attitude during the zoom meeting was take it or leave it, for less than half settlement amount. Then all of the sudden on Friday they were very pleasant and said they had now thoroughly looked through the documentation we had sent and decided to pay for the lawyer’s fees and the adjudication payment we paid to the builder. I was thinking maybe it was because we went to the local MP to complain. We don’t know and didn’t ask.  We are just glad to recover our loss. We were disappointed that it took so long, with so many heartaches and headaches. If they had just listened to us in the first place all these would have been avoided. I hope this is a positive side that there will be hope for all of us in the class action. There should be justice for how all of us were being treated.