The federal government’s National Disability Insurance Agency has apologised to a roomful of Hunter and Central Coast disability service providers for the financial hardship and other difficulties that its problem-ridden computer portal has caused.
About 100 NDIS service providers had crowded into an upstairs meeting room at the NDIS office in Auckland Street, Newcastle, to hear from the agency’s chief executive, David Bowen.
But one of the organisation’s two general managers of operations, Vicki Rundle, told the aggrieved audience Mr Bowen had been called on urgent business to Canberra and that she was deputising in his place.
Ms Rundle repeatedly told the meeting that the agency apologised for the problems it had created for service providers, and was sorry about the way things had turned out.
She said it had been “a very painful seven or eight weeks” but said the computer system been expanded to go from 30,000 NDIS clients to more than 460,000 in the coming three years.
She said the computer portal had to connect four separate computer systems and when “we rectified one issue it had an impact in an area we hadn’t anticipated”.
She said most of the difficulties stemmed from problems with “data migration”, meaning files did not transfer properly from the old computer system to the new one.
Is the apology by National Disability Insurance Agency executive Vicki Rundle enough?
She said the need to keep the computer system running – albeit with problems – meant the technicians could only work on the system at night and on weekends.
She insisted there were only “a few problems left”, which would be worked on this week.
Monday’s meeting went for more than 90 minutes and confirmed more of the sorts of grievances that were aired last week in the Newcastle Herald, when service providers outlined the financial problems that the NDIA’s computer switchover had caused.
Rae Phelps, the founder of a small Coalfields provider, A-Plus Care4all, told the meeting she was still $10,000 out of pocket after having to borrow from family and friends to keep her employees paid at the height of the computer problems.
Throughout the 90-minute meeting, speaker after speaker told Ms Rundle about the problems they had faced, and the way that re-allocating NDIA staff to deal with the fallout from the computer failures had led to difficulties in other areas.
“It’s made us look unprofessional,” was how one provider described the situation.
Various speakers said many of the problems experienced by the NDIA had been predicted by service providers, but nobody listened.
Read more at http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4113048/ndis-problems-our-fault-says-government/