Mowers and cleaners get cut of NDIS: Australian NDIS scheme is a bridge too far for Big Government

Mowers and cleaners get cut of NDIS: Australian NDIS scheme is a bridge too far for Big Government, by Andrew Burrell.

More than 50 lawnmowing and garden-maintenance companies have signed up as providers to the $22 billion National Disabil­ity Insurance Scheme, to service clients including the parents of children with autism.

A number of contractors working in the system have told The Australian that they expect to receive work as the NDIS continues to be rolled out to tens of thousands of clients. NSW lawn­mowing contractor Paul Bussey said he was preparing for what could be an exponential increase in business thanks to the NDIS. …

While services such as lawnmowing were considered a legitimate part of disability support, Mr Della Bosca [campaign co-ordinator with disability group Every Australian Counts] said it was possible some people would have such a service in their NDIS plan when they did not genuinely need it, but he believed many disabled people needed services such as lawnmowing, house cleaning, showering and being taken to the movies. “The aim of the scheme was to normalise people’s lives,” he said. …

Two NDIS providers in ­Sydney said their clients included children with autism whose parents were able to have their gardens maintained under the scheme. One said he had delivered services including gutter cleaning, hedge trimming and weeding to these families.

“I feel for these parents; they have difficult lives,” said a lawnmowing contractor who asked not to be identified for fear of losing work through the NDIS. …

Any chance of abuse?

Another lawnmowing business owner said he questioned whether all of his clients genuinely needed assistance. “I’ve wondered whether I should ­investigate them but I would lose clients,” he said on condition of anonymity.

He said he recently spoke to an NDIS case manager who admitted to approving unworthy clients because she was trying to build a client base in her new business. “Only since then have I started looking at my (NDIS) clients and questioning whether they need assistance or not,” he said.

“The system is getting milked pretty badly.”

He estimated that three-­quarters of his clients were too disabled to mow their lawns but the remaining NDIS jobs were “questionable”.

The bureaucratic costs of getting uninterested bureaucrats to arrange the services and pay for it all will be huge. Still, the opportunities are stupendous:

In the seaside village of Toma­kin in southern NSW, Mr Bussey does lawnmowing for only two NDIS clients and cleaning for a third, through his small company Clean Cut Mowing & Cleaning. He has been told there are 2500 eligible residents with disabilities in his region who may soon need his services. …

Like other business owners contacted by The Australian yesterday, Mr Bussey said the NDIS paid below the market rate for lawnmowing, but he said city rates for lawnmowing were much higher than in Tomakin, so at $42.05c an hour, the NDIS was just below what he would ordinarily charge.

Adoption agencies might supply kids with autism, so the adoptive parents qualify for government services around the home. Or easier yet, just get a doctor to “find” that your kid has autism, then lie back and let the taxpayer do the chores around your house. The definition of “autism,” nowadays is pretty relaxed — it is not the meaning of “autism” we grew up with. Kid doesn’t look you in the eye? That’s autism, and years of NDIS supplied lawn mowing!

hat-tip Joanne