This is a note to myself. It’s from the report of the NDIS Citizen’s Jury Scorecard. However, in a way that speaks for itself, it may be of interest to Troppodillians. It’s an illustration of professional obfuscation and indifference to those in their care. (Of course lots of those in these organisations are not like this. But lots are, and that’s despite their genuine intention to do the right thing – surely something to ponder). The closure of the offending institution seems to have been announced to the objections of various stakeholders.
In terms of representation of various impairments, the jury did not hear from anyone who lives in a boarding house or from an institution like Stockton in New South Wales, which is the home for hundreds of people with intellectual disability, amongst other impairments. However, it is important to note that despite the jury not hearing from any witnesses from Stockton, that several attempts were made by the advocate witness, Kristy Trajcevski, a qualified lawyer, to interview at least three Stockton residents. These attempts seemed to be blocked by staff at Stockton, based on the following:
- Letters were sent by Ms Trajcevski well in advance, notifying participants about the process, inviting them to take part and that they would be contacted, to which no response was received.
- Ms Trajcevski then: o Attempted to contact the participants over the phone via Stockton’s main switchboard, to which the receptionist offered to answer questions on the participants’ behalf, stating that they couldn’t answer the questions because the participants had intellectual disability and would not be able to speak;
- Ms Trajcevski told the receptionist that she had sent a letter to them, so they should be aware that she would attempt to call, to which she was told that the participants had never received said letters and that maybe they were directed to their parents’ houses. When told the participants only had one address, Stockton, the receptionist could not explain this;
- When the receptionist couldn’t answer Ms Trajcevski’s questions, Ms Trajcevski was transferred to the ward, where she received a similar message from the nurses about the participants’ lack of capability to discuss the matter due to their impairments. Assuring the nurses that she would try to discuss it with them anyway, they would still not allow her to speak to the participants.
Ms Trajcevski has a speech impairment, and told the jury that because she thought that her impairment may be causing a problem in either the Stockton staff understanding her generally or questioning her capability to speak to participants, she asked a representative with no speech impairment, to call on her behalf and ask the questions of the participants for her. This representative was met with the same problem, and had the same experience of being blocked by staff and not being able to speak to the participants at all. As such, Ms Trajcevski concluded that her speech impairment had nothing to do with her inability to access NDIS participants at Stockton to ask their views on the NDIS.
The jury concluded from this that the staff at Stockton did not want the participant residents to speak with the advocate witness about the NDIS. This raises several issues about the transition of power from the current service providers to the NDIS participants, based on the change from the block funding model to the NDIS participant funding controlled model. These issues are discussed in the recommendations.