A woman with cerebral palsy and a slight intellectual disability won a landmark lawsuit against an Australian agency that managed National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) after they denied her services.
The Age reports that Jessica King uses crutches to get around, but on painful days, she can’t move around at all. During those times, she relies on a wheelchair to get around.
About six years ago, Jessica found a special form of physiotherapy that, when coupled with her gym trips, she was able to gain enough strength to help her walk without a wheelchair. That all ended when the NDIS agency decided to stop funding the physiotherapy. According to the agency, the physiotherapy was not “reasonable or necessary.” The agency also stopped funding her gym membership.
“This whole process has set her right back and that’s what I’m angriest about,” said Jessica’s mother, Gail King. “They have robbed her of months of treatment. And we’re supposed to grateful for this scheme.”
Jessica has been trying to reach NDIS to amend her plan, yet they never return her calls or respond to the request. With the help of Victoria Legal Aid, however, Jessica was able to successfully appeal NDIS’ decision.
“All I want is to be able to walk,” Jessica said.
The downside is that when NDIS makes decisions that hurt people with disabilities, it leads to extremely costly legal disputes, which could have been handled if NDIS recognized needed services. It makes the public question if NDIS truly understands what “reasonable and necessary” is.
— Nathaniel Swain (@NathanielRSwain) June 18, 2017
Regardless, legal claims and lawsuits have greatly benefited those who would have otherwise been stuck with the necessary, needed care. For example, prior to Jessica’s successful appeal, another person, Liam McGarrigle, appealed the NDIS decision to deny him transportation to his work and social skills classes. With the help of Victoria Legal Aid, he too was able to successfully overturn the agency’s decision, which has been a lifesaver for him.
“A participant should not have to go all the way to the tribunal to confirm what they already know – that they need these supports to achieve their goal of independence,” said Victoria Legal Aid head of civil justice, Dan Nicholson.
A spokesperson for NDIS refused to comment on the appeal or any individuals “plans or circumstances,” according to The Age.