Kelly is a member of our Facebook Group – NDIS +Class Action and Royal Commission.  On April 3, Kelly had a stroke.  We are glad to report that she is conscious and communication with her partner, John, and with us, through him. 

Kelly believes that her stroke is a direct consequence of her experience with battling the NDIA.  Here’s her story, compiled with her permission from posts to the Facebook group, and augmented by information provided by John. 

Kelly joined our group in November 2022.  She has Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 1, a slow form of motor neuron disease, uses a wheelchair for mobility and has an assistance dog named Noni.  That’s them in the photo.  Kelly was diagnosed in 1988, and transitioned into the NDIS when it launched in 2016.  She is an accomplished competitor in disabled sailing events, having won several state and national titles. 

Before the current round of plan issues and stress, Kelly and John had problems with the NDIA penny-pinching from 2016 to 2020, when they tried to avoid funding a new platform lift to accommodate Kelly’s new wheelchair.  As a result of NDIA dithering, the old, unsuitable lift failed, leaving Kelly and John with 9 spinal fractures and 17 other broken bones between them. 

When she joined us, Kelly said that in July 2022, the NDIA rolled over her plan without a planning review meeting.  This failed to fund a new tilting shower commode, to replace one that was broken. After a complaint to Bill Shorten’s office, a planning meeting in September resulted in a new plan which included funding for the new shower commode, but slashing $200,000 out of her core support funding.  Now she could have a shower and stay there all day, as there would be no support workers to assist. 

Fascinatingly, the new plan was also approved for SDA accommodation.  Kelly had not requested SDA, as she and her partner had already fully modified their home, and were self-managing a team of 6 support workers. Kelly also notes that in the unrequested SDA, the NDIA required her to share the house with 3 strangers, but would not permit her partner of 30 years to move in with her. 

Another call to Minister Shorten and a Section 100 Review Request, eventually led to notification that the matter would be finalised by 22 December.  In fact, the letter confirming the review outcome was dated 12 December – ten days earlier than the promised result.  And the result was extraordinary – the plan was confirmed as correct, and no change would be made – even to the unwanted SDA allocation.  When the review outcomes letter did arrive, it bore little resemblance to the issues Kelly had requested be reviewed.  Apart from not addressing the unrequested SDA, the decision rejected a non-existent request for 24 hour 1 on 1 support.  Kelly still has no idea where these elements of her plan came from. 

Naturally, Kelly went to the AAT seeking proper resolution.  The NDIA had already reduced her window of opportunity to do this by delaying delivery of the letter, and then by forcing her to act across the Christmas / New Year period. 

In the leadup to the AAT case, Kelly noted: “the support coordinator should be included in an AAT case where mistakes made by the planner are concerned. I am lucky that I had my support coordinator, my partner and one of my care workers with me during the planning meeting.  They can all bear witness to what was discussed, agreed to, and what was not even mentioned”. Without the planning meetings being recorded, it would have been Kelly’s memory of the meeting against the planner’s. Since Kelly’s medical reports say she experiences from memory loss, she expected that the planner would otherwise have the stronger case in an argument about specific points. 

Kelly’s experience with NDIS Legal started with a phone call requesting details of what was to be reviewed by AAT.  These details were, of course, set out in her request and the 23 documents lodged at that time.  She thinks the NDIA case manager was simply unwilling to go to the documents and was looking for a short cut.  Others might say they wanted Kelly to do their jobs for them. 

When preparing to submit her AAT application, Kelly also submitted an FOI request, to obtain details of how her plan was created.  In what has become a very common scenario, the NDIA responded ten days later, saying that they could not meet the legislated timeframe for response because they had experienced a large increase in FOI requests over recent months.  A referral to the Office of the Information Commissioner resulted in a new deadline, only 3 days after the decision and one week prior to the next step at AAT.   

Kelly then learned that she would be arguing her case against lawyers from top-of-the-town law firm Minter Ellison, working on behalf of the NDIA.  Members of the Facebook group reassured Kelly, reporting that most who had experienced the firm found them reasonable ot deal with. 

When the FOI response was delivered, it revealed that the planner had made numerous false statements (or mistakes) in setting up the parameters that drive selection of the RoboPlan Persona.  In particular, it incorrectly said that Kelly (and her partner) did not own their own home (they do), that she did not want to live with her partner of 31 years (she does) and that she could independently provide her won personal care and feed herself (she can’t). 

Kelly’s first AAT Case Conference was In late February. She took delight in telling the lawyers that the answers ot many of their questions were in the T-Docs provided by the NDIA, quoting page and paragraph numbers.  Fascinatingly, they asked the AAT to confirm that it would not be ruling on breaches of APS and NDIS Codes of Conduct – giving the impression that they were already aware of such breaches having occurred. 

By late March, Kelly was becoming concerned that her funding would run out before a decision was made.  Again, members of the Facebook Group provided information about how to clear this hurdle, which should be straight forward, but isn’t, and which should be automatically handled by the NDIA and AAT working together to ensure safety for the participant. 

Many of us have experienced the dread of wondering how we would survive if funding were suddenly and completely removed.  There are no backup systems to the NDIS, especially for people with very high support needs.  This dread is real, harmful, and is experienced far too often. 

Today, Kelly’s partner blamed the stress of having to appeal to the AAT for NDIA decisions that are patently wrong and ludicrous as the primary trigger for the stroke she experienced this morning.  As he said, the pathetic efforts of the NDIA to reduce participant support costs through unreasonable plan reductions has directly created a need for more support, at a higher cost, potentially for the rest of her life. 

We are praying for Kelly’s recovery, and we are more determined than ever to end this horrible, harmful, unjust behaviour that has become the hallmark of the NDIA as implemented by the past ten years of conservative government. 

Keep watching our work as we drive toward a Petition for a new Royal Commission into RoboNDIS, and a Class Action to make good the harms done to Kelly, John and thousands like them.