|National Disability Insurance Scheme rallies|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2012 00:00|
*** Editorial Update ***
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has approved The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Part-funding for the landmark proposal will be announced in the Federal Budget on Tuesday, May 8.
People with a significant and permanent disability, such as people with cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome and brain injuries, will be among the first to benefit.
Initially about 10,000 people will be supported under the scheme. This number will double to 20,000 people in 2014.
National rallies in support of the NDIS campaign are in top gear with people with disability, their carers, friends and families bombarding their federal MPs. Most politicians have responded positively, putting their faces to the cause. (See the separate story on the NDIS rallies in this issue.)
Ms Gillard said the NDIS trial would start in four locations around the country with the sites yet to be decided in consultation with the states.
Under the scheme, people with severe disabilities will have all their care needs assessed by a government agency and it will decide the level of financial support they require for life and provide that money.
It will also create a care plan and assistance with housing and other needs.
Ms Gillard said starting the disability insurance scheme would end the ‘cruel lottery’ that has meant some people with disabilities were entitled to compensation and assistance while others were not.
The disability insurance scheme has been most strongly supported by Victorian ministers Bill Shorten and Jenny Macklin.
Opposition disabilities spokesman Mitch Fifield said the Coalition fully supported the scheme and would back it.
The government would not reveal how much it will spend, saying those figures will be in next Tuesday’s Budget.
But a fully implemented scheme is tipped to cost an extra $8 billion a year when rolled out over the next six years.
Support for the landmark scheme – which would be the greatest progress ever made in the history of disability services in Australia – is exploding across the nation.
Australians everywhere are pledging to help change the lives of people with disability by supporting moves to implement the ‘no-fault’ scheme.
The NDIS will make it easier for people to access essential care, support, therapy, equipment, early intervention and training and revolutionise disability services
There are three main ways to get involved:
The disability system is in crisis and we need the NDIS NOW is the main message supporters are trying to get across.
It’s time to make EVERY Australian count and to ‘Make it Real’, they say.
On Monday, April 30 NIDS supporters hosted the biggest rally of people with disabilities this country had ever seen in six capital cities around Australia.
Now, many towns and villages are hosting rallies of their own.
Visit the NDIS website for a list of events in your region at www.everyAustraliancounts.com.au
On this website you can also read, watch and listen to the stories of many people with disability and their families who speak with passion about the need for the NIDS and how having a disability has impacted their life.
We encourage our readers to tell their families, friends, work colleagues and the government that Australia must introduce this revolutionary reform to improve the lives of people with a disability, their families and carers.
To email your friends, family and colleagues about the NDIS go to:
Last month the Prime Minister’s confirmed that the first stage of the NDIS will be introduced by the middle of next year – but the disability community is still eagerly awaiting more detail.
Every Australian Counts Campaign Director, John Della Bosca, said there was no information released about the locations of proposed ‘trial sites’.
“…the disability community is strong and determined and the NDIS is not just an aspiration – it has to be delivered in full as recommended by the Productivity Commission,” Mr Della Bosca said.
“It was heartening to see the Commonwealth bring the NDIS roll-out forward to 2013, a spirit of bipartisanship at the national political level and in-principle agreement secured at the recent COAG meeting – but we need action now.
“There is a hidden crisis in every town in every state across this nation. People are at breaking point waiting for basic services and support.
“About 50 per cent of people with a disability do not get the support they need to live with the dignity and quality of life they deserve.
“In fact, disability support systems across Australia are either currently in or on the verge of crisis – so it is essential we get a comprehensive scheme.”
The Melbourne Sunday Age last month ran a story that explained the importance of the NDIS and it is reproduced below.
A YOUNG woman in Queensland who suffered a spinal injury in a diving accident at her local pool spent nine years in legal action against the council and the pool lessee, lost, and relies on her ageing parents for 24-hour care.
A single mother in Wodonga worries endlessly about her son, 18, born with a chromosomal abnormality that caused intellectual disability and severe physical impairments. As an adult, his days at a wonderful local school are over, meaning that unless she can somehow find the money, his regular sessions with speech and occupational therapists will end. Local day programs are overstretched, as is the respite care she desperately needs.
A family with a daughter, 4, born with cerebral palsy, moved from Queensland to Victoria and were shocked at the difference in support services. “In Melbourne service levels vary from the eastern suburbs to the western suburbs. As we live in Keilor, we are ineligible for from additional services that friends living in the eastern suburbs receive. This level of inequity is beyond absurd – it borders on discrimination.”
These stories of heartbreak, despair and – most strikingly – of love and dedication were told to the Productivity Commission as it researched what it found to be Australia’s “underfunded, unfair, fragmented and inefficient” disability support system.
Two ageing sisters who have cared for their intellectually disabled brother since their mother died 21 years ago detail their frustrations with the system, as does a man whose mental illness has left him unable to work and forced him to live in a caravan as he battles authorities for assistance.
Parents bemoan the wait for a wheelchair for their children, others lament the time it takes to get an appointment for early intervention services for toddlers diagnosed with autism.
The then parliamentary secretary for disabilities Bill Shorten told the commission: “It has been said to me that the best thing to do for someone who has fallen off the roof of their home and suffered a spinal injury, is to bundle them into the car and drive it into the nearest lamp post.”
That grim piece of gallows humour reflects the sad truth that getting adequate compensation for a person with a serious injury is still a lottery. State borders, the whim of the courts, and the cause of the injury play a far greater role than need, fairness or justice.
The Productivity Commission agreed with the lottery analogy, noting that serious disability can happen to anyone – ‘a simple fall can lead to quadriplegia and an illness to severe brain damage’. It found the level of support for Australians with serious disabilities varied dramatically depending on how and in which state the disability occurred.
The commission recommended Australia set up a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), along the lines of Medicare, to provide coverage for people with a serious disability. The commission’s report and recommendations were well received, with broad agreement across the major parties and state and federal politics that Australia’s system of looking after people with disabilities is a mess and reform is urgently required.
The Gillard government has committed to the NDIS, but is yet to announce how much money will be dedicated to it and how many people will be covered. The federal opposition has talked about needing to have a strong budget surplus before the disability insurance scheme can be funded, although Opposition Leader Tony Abbott wrote in a recent opinion piece: “The Coalition intends to work constructively with the government to implement the NDIS as quickly as possible.”
Disability support services currently cost more than $7 billion a year, with $2.3 billion from the federal government and about $4.7 billion from states and territories. Commonwealth and state disability ministers and treasurers are discussing how to share the cost of a new system. It is estimated that, properly funded, the NDIS would cost $13.5 billion a year, almost double current spending.