CONCERNS over NDIS workforce shortages and the subsequent impact on clients attempting to access the scheme dominated debate at Barker’s first and last candidate forum before Saturday’s Election.
Incumbent MP Tony Pasin, the Nationals candidate Miles Hannemann, Greens candidate Rosa Hillam and United Australia Party’s Bert Bacher fielded questions from a crowd of around 30 at the Carers SA-hosted event on Wednesday night.
Attendees expressed their frustration with the roll out of the scheme, with one women quizzing the government’s “underspend” in this year’s Federal Budget.
However, Mr Pasin said money allocated to the scheme was unable to be spent in one year due to a lack of a capable workforce available.
“The challenge we are having is building the workforce fast enough and in regional communities, that is even more prevalent,” he said.
“There are great opportunities in the future for regional health care, allied services and these things, but there are frustrations at the moment in terms of that service provision.
“We do need to remember this is a program we are just ramping up, it’s not going down so we’ll end up with a Rolls Royce service that is the equivalent of the PBS. The Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme is the envy of the world and so will the NDIS.”
Greens candidate Rosa Hillam said new and innovative approaches were required to attract and retain specialists in regional areas.
“There has got to be some incentive to actually funnel the people into the country,” she said.
“There are just not enough not psychologists to people to access and there is very few psychiatrists around.
“Governments need to find a way to attract people to go to university and actually train for these jobs, especially occupational therapists, speech therapists.”
Nationals candidate Miles Hannemann said a number of South East residents raised concerns about accessing the NDIS, saying people were often required to speak to a number of people when seeking to access the scheme.
“People who are calling should be able to speak to someone and get an answer without the frustration of starting again,” he said.
“But I think it is getting the right staff for the job, that is the biggest thing.
“You cannot roll these things out overnight because as history tells you, you get it incorrect.”