Story 16: National Disability Insurance Scheme Project

2021-2022: Western Australia

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has raised many access to justice issues and has been labelled by some as a bureaucratic nightmare that fails to meet the needs of people with a disability.  

Under Lavan’s NDIS pro bono project, lawyers assist clients with NDIS internal review applications and in appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.  Most of the cases we take on relate to significant cuts to funding under NDIS plans that were intended to provide necessary supports and services to the person with a disability. 

Our clients, along with the people who support them, tell us that they’re exhausted by the time they get to speak with a lawyer. They are often fed up with an inflexible system that does not understand their needs. Some of our clients, or their informal carers, have been struggling significantly when they have sought Lavan’s pro bono services – they tell us about the seemingly endless meetings, forms, reports and a lack of outcome despite their best efforts. 

The assistance we have been able to provide has been life-changing for some of our clients. In some cases, it has meant that couples who have been married for decades are able to remain living at home together. In other cases, it is securing a support needed for the bare necessities of life. Sometimes the impact of the work has been more intangible. For example, our clients have told us that they feel so relieved that someone is finally listening to them and taking what they have to say seriously.    

One client with a brain injury recently had their NDIS plan funding quadrupled as a result of our assistance. Their partner and informal carer was at breaking point and saw no option other than for our client to leave the family home and go into supported accommodation. However, the increased funding means that she can receive additional support and they can remain living in the family home together. The client can also access additional supports focused on improvement of his overall wellbeing and enjoyment of life and better access to the community.   

The NDIS pro bono project at Lavan gives lawyers an opportunity to provide our clients with critical but temporary legal support in what is often their lifelong battle for basic human rights. A successful outcome for our clients can mean that in in this moment their human rights are protected.

Lavan’s NDIS Project is supported by:

Amber Crosthwaite
Cinzia Donald
Iain Freeman
Garth Tinsley
Special Counsel

This story was submitted by Lavan.