Josh Mitchell, 19, needs life saving equipment in his home. Picture: AAP/Claudia Baxter
Josh Mitchell, 19, needs life saving equipment in his home. Picture: AAP/Claudia Baxter

Battler mum goes hungry as NDIS fails her teen son

A SINGLE Toowoomba mum who lives on the poverty line and skips meals to keep her son alive says it's "devastating" to learn NDIS bosses are earning so much money while she struggles to make ends meet.

Mum Toni Mitchell is one of the rising number of Queenslanders who say they feel let down by the National Disability Insurance Scheme and have been forced to turn to crowd funding to support their sick children.

Parents are turning to fundraisers not only for basic items like wheelchairs but for life sustaining equipment - a trend that Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles has called a "nightmare" and "heartbreaking".

"It is devastating to me that NDIS bosses are earning such big money when I am on the poverty line and having to go without meals to try to keep my son alive," Ms Mitchell said.

Josh Mitchell, 19, poses with his mother Toni in Rockville, Toowomba. Picture: AAP/Claudia Baxter
Josh Mitchell, 19, poses with his mother Toni in Rockville, Toowomba. Picture: AAP/Claudia Baxter

The Courier-Mail has discovered that the number of GoFundMe campaigns in Queensland for 2019 looks set to outdo the 73 campaigns launched last year to assist families with needs falling outside of NDIS.

But Mr Miles says the crowd-funding campaigns are just the tip of the iceberg with the NDIS failing thousands of Queenslanders.

Ms Mitchell struggles everyday with the physical, emotional and monetary burden of caring for Joshy who is 19, described as "palliative" and suffers from a litany of serious health problems.

His mum says he is not at end of life but time with him is highly precious.

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"I've been battling with the NDIS for more than a couple of years for things to help Joshy.

"We are not asking for the world. Joshy eats through a pump and needs special packets of food for the pump.

"I have asked for help with the costs of this food and the decision is pending.

"He needs this food to keep him alive. I have no choice but to go without eating and taking my own medications," Ms Mitchell said.

The huge salaries earned by bosses at the National Disability Insurance Agency.
The huge salaries earned by bosses at the National Disability Insurance Agency.

"I have also asked for assistance in putting in a hand rail for Joshy in the bathroom as he has a lot of falls but I am still waiting. We go through a lot of appeals and then find the decision is pending but it stays pending and is never resolved," she said.

The teenager who has Down syndrome, autism, hearing impairment, heart and lung disease and several other health problems, requires oxygen and life support machines in the home.

"The NDIS is a great Labor reform that has helped thousands of Queenslanders living with a disability. Unfortunately, under the mismanagement of the Federal Government the NDIS has turned in to a nightmare for some who still cannot access the services they need quickly enough. It is heartbreaking to see families resort to public fundraising to get basic equipment like wheelchairs," Mr Miles said.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles slammed the Federal Government’s administration of the NDIS. Picture: AAP/Jono Searle
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles slammed the Federal Government’s administration of the NDIS. Picture: AAP/Jono Searle

"We all know there are thousands of Queenslanders who are being let down by the NDIS right now, and we in the Palaszczuk Government are doing our best to try and support them until the Morrison Government gets their act together. We're investing $52.9m in additional funding to respond to current service gaps. This has included interim arrangements to allow state-funded supports to continue for people unable to obtain support through the NDIS right now," he said.

"I'm still shocked and angry that while there are Queenslanders living with a disability not receiving the support, benefits and care they need, the Federal Government claimed a fake surplus based on a $3bn underspend in the NDIS," the Minister said.

A spokeswoman from the NDIA said that Joshy receives significant funding and they are working with the Mitchells to ensure he gets "any additional appropriate disability-related supports he needs".