Author Mark Toomey
In May 2015, Mark Toomey’s then 35-year-old son experienced a massive brain haemorrhage that took out the right side of his brain. In an instant, his life changed forever. Seventeen months later, Geoff was ready for discharge from Hospital, but It took a year to achieve that discharge, while the NDIA, the state government and the hospital argued about which of them was responsible for his long-term support. From the outset, the NDIA failed him and his family, resisting his “out of area” entry. The timing didn’t suit their plan. He was left in hospital, severely neglected, until they were good and ready.
Geoff’s brain injury paralysed most of his left side, impaired his left side sensory functions (sight, sound etc) and taken away much of his short-term memory. He has been assessed every year by expert clinicians as needing 24-hour, 7-day support and supervision (CANS Level 7 for the clinicians among us), to help him stay safe and make good choices. Without these supports, he is vulnerable to manipulation by scoundrels and at risk of injury through falls, crashes and the like. Short of a miracle, this will never change. But the NDIA tries, every year, to supply less support than Geoff needs, and forces Mark to campaign endlessly for more.
Despite many formal assessments and recommendations, Geoff has received a series of appalling plans, which have left him with a serious shortage of therapeutic supports and inadequate support for daily living. The consequence of these plans has been that Geoff has:
- experienced physical injury, including three serious bone fractures in 5 years
- experienced numerous non-injury accidents such as being tipped from his wheelchair
- been unable to pursue capacity improvement activities, which are often touted as a “holy grail” of the NDIS
- been unable to reclaim his relationship with his now 16-year-old son
- been unable to do things that are important to him, like music festivals, foraging for bush foods, fishing, gardening and owning a dog
Geoff doesn’t have the capacity to manage his NDIS arrangements. As his nominee, that falls to Mark. So, while also having overall responsibility for managing the support arrangements, Mark carries the stress of working out how to get the best from inadequate plans while simultaneously battling for better outcomes. In every year since Geoff emerged from hospital, Mark has been forced to dedicate somewhere between 6 and 9 months to resolving plan issues. This has had a serious impact on his mental health, capacity to work, and financial well-being.
To date, Geoff has had 10 DIS Plans. Only one has delivered adequate support, and then only after a 3-month Section 100 review process. Another S100 was refused and a third is now under way. We know where that will go.
Geoff is a Victim of the NDIA. While he can’t live without it, he can’t do much to improve his situation because the NDIA constantly under-funds his needs.
In 2019, he learned to swim again and was walking (very slowly) unaided. Then he had a fall, due to his poor insight to danger, and smashed his hip. The NDIA saw an opportunity to reduce his physiotherapy funding, as his needs were now medical, not disability! And of course, they won’t fund the skills needed to manage his complex array of clinical supports and a limited social life. Jeepers!
Might Mark also be a victim of the NDIA? We think so. He’s been unable to work since 2017 – instead being the unpaid manager of Geoff’s affairs. He’s burned his super to survive. His plans of self-funded, self-sufficient retirement on forty acres are in disarray. Getting a pension is a challenge, as he owns more than the stipulated 5 acres of land. He can’t spend time with his sole parent daughter and her three young children. His PTSD is far worse, with the original cause overlaid by the anxiety and frustration of dealing with an unhelpful, opaque and cruel government agency. The harm done by the NDIA is far broader than just that done to participants.
No investigation into the NDIA has examined the issues we experience every day. Yet, we have seen the Robodebt Royal Commission reveal equally dreadful behaviour at another agency very like NDIA, where some people have been involved in both Robodebt and RoboNDIS. That is why we are here now, demanding a Royal Commission into RoboNDIS.
Won’t you join us?