NDIS: Transport costs + full funding

Perosh and National Disability Insurance Agency [2018] AATA 980 saw the Tribunal called upon to review a decision in relation to taxi fares, in relation to a young adult with quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

This appears to have been the first occasion where the Tribunal has had to consider the McGarrigle decisions of the Federal Court of Australia concerning the costs of the transport components of participant plans which are reasonable and necessary supports under the NDIS, This saw the Tribunal hold at [63]:

Until otherwise guided by the courts, it is my view that the proper course for this Tribunal to take is to adhere to the holding by Mortimer J that once a support is held to be a reasonable and necessary support, it should be fully funded. As her Honour said in paragraph 95, “…[T]he relevant gateway established by the legislative scheme is whether the support is “reasonable and necessary”, and once through that gateway, the scheme intends the support will be fully funded.”

The Tribunal observed at [12] the NDIS position that a participant will generally be able to access funding through the NDIS for transport assistance if the participant cannot use public transport without substantial difficulty due to their disability, at one of three levels of funding. The upper level presently provides for $3,456 per annum. Mr Perosh sought fares totalling $9,528 per annum (at [32]).

The Tribunal held that, on the available evidence, the applicant could not use public transport independently and without substantial difficulty (at [81]). The taxi fares to and from TAFE and to and from the gym were held to be reasonable. However fares for outings to Castle Towers (a shopping centre) were not a reasonable and necessary support, as it was reasonable for the family of the applicant to arrange further outings for him (at [85] – [88)).

Regard was had to the need to ensure the financial sustainability of the NDIS (at [88]).