|Support for National Disability Insurance Scheme grows|
|Tuesday, 04 August 2009 00:00|
If you never do another single thing to support people with disability, then do this and add your weight to the growing support this idea is generating in the corridors of political power.
The ONLY way it will come about is by the pressure of ordinary people who bother to write a quick email, letter, or sign a petition in support of this long overdue, crucially important scheme.
You will find all the contact details and more information on their website at: http://www.everyaustraliancounts.com.au
We all know that you don’t have to look very far to read of heartbreaking cases of hardship being suffered by your fellow Australians with disability, their families and carers.
No-one asks to be born with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or autism. No-one asks to be struck down by motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or any other devastating condition that leaves them incapacitated.
And yet it happens. Frequently. Unexpectedly. And when it strikes your family, your whole world turns upside-down, possibly never to return to normality again.
Just go and review the carer stories we have published in Work ‘n’ Care month after month. Talk to special education teachers. Talk to respite providers. Talk to organisations supporting people with disability. Talk to families. Talk to disabled people themselves.
They are all unanimous – the disability support system in Australia does not meet the needs of users.
Families compete for scarce resources. There is not enough money for respite. There is not enough money for in-home care. There is not enough money for supported accommodation. There is not enough money for teacher’s aides. There is not enough money for essential equipment and services.
People with disability often suffer and are denied access to even the most basic human rights we all take for granted. They must argue constantly from a position of crisis to attract funding to help them live life with some measure of quality and dignity.
Families are left in exhaustion and despair, struggling to provide support to their loved ones. Family relationships break down and the negative social consequences continue to have an ever-widening impact.
One reason could be that Australia, unlike the United Kingdom and many other European countries, does not yet have a no-fault disability insurance scheme.
Thousands of people with disabilities in Australia fall through a huge gap in our social services network, because their injury or disability is non-compensable.
Because of this, individuals with a disability struggle below the poverty line or their families are expected to provide care until they die or otherwise cannot continue.
They endure because there is no alternative or, in the case of family members, because they feel it is their duty and responsibility, despite the costs to their health and well being.
Yet the theoretical and practical evidence for a fairer and more effective system is clearly demonstrated by existing social insurance schemes such as workers’ compensation.
Now is the time to extend these social insurance models by introducing a fully funded no-fault National Disability Insurance Scheme as the centrepiece of the National Disability Strategy.
A NDIS would rank alongside Medicare and compulsory superannuation as a visionary economic and social reform for the benefit of all Australians. With each of us at risk of experiencing a disability and the number of Australians with a disability increasing all the time, this issue affects every Australian, today and in the future.
It will take both political will and grassroots advocacy to reform the disability sector and force the introduction of the proposed NDIS. The community must show that it mandates reform. The petition (link below) is part of a nationwide strategy to garner support from all Australians.
The more people who actively engage in petitioning friends, family and colleagues to become signatory to this petition, the greater response there will be from all sides of politics.
It would be wonderful to have the NDIS pass through both houses of parliament with a bipartisan show of support.
Australia needs a fully planned, fully funded scheme that will ensure access to inclusive and supportive services that will meet the needs of all people who have or acquire disability.
Imagine a future where people with a significant or complex disability had free and ready access to all the services and equipment they need.
People with a disability and their families need a secure future. The struggle for essential services and support is never ending – from early intervention to equipment, respite, accommodation, employment and family support.
It is time to change the way services for people with a disability are funded in Australia and support a fair go for all. A planned, fully-funded, National Disability Insurance Scheme will underwrite sustained, significant, long-term improvements in meeting the needs of people with a disability and their families.
We encourage you to sign up friends and neighbours, clubs and church groups, as well as your service providers, teachers, health workers and support workers. Ask if you can leave the petition on the counters of your medical practitioner, local shopkeepers, clubs, schools, or anywhere you believe you can attract wider community support.
The scheme has already attracted a ringing endorsement from the 2009 ACTU National Congress, and received support from mainstream media organisations like The Australian with an excellent article by Bruce Bonyhady in the 7 May edition of The Australian championing the idea of the scheme, saying it is, 'too important and far reaching to be left just to governments, people with disabilities, carers and disability organisations. It needs everyone's support'.
This was followed up by an editorial in the Weekend edition of The Australian on 30 May which said the scheme was An admirable idea, and 'It is clear that Australia's fractured, under-resourced disability support systems need an overhaul' ... 'state and federal taxpayers already fund disability services, but for the cost of a minimal investment shared across the community, a NDIS would generate the resources to provide the disabled, and their families, with security and peace of mind'.
In the same edition, social affairs writer, Steven Lunn, reinforces the need for a National Disability Insurance Scheme in his article Disability plan has growing support. He cites Rhonda Galbally, chairwoman of the National People with Disabilities and Carers Council, who says, 'A proposed national disability insurance scheme is a ‘light on the hill’ for the disabled and their carers, a sector more marginalised than at any time in the past 30 years'.
It is also heartening to see the support given to the National Disability Insurance Scheme at a recent National Press Club Luncheon in Canberra. In his opening address National Disability Services chief executive Ken Baker affirmed the need for such a scheme, while in the keynote speech, Parliamentary Secretary for Disability, Bill Shorten, responded to the concept, saying, 'this is a landmark idea that needs serious debate and investigation to demonstrate how it could work in a country like ours'.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is endorsed by more than 100 of the largest and oldest disability and community organisations in Australia.
You can have your say about your family’s situation and how a National Disability Insurance Scheme would help you – and what others have said – at: