As if having a disability isn’t hard enough!

With more of the deflections and distractions occurring in Canberra this week, over 430,000 Australians living with a disability and their carers are about to start having to justify their worth yet again to the Australian Government for support.  The support they are entitled to receive in order to live a full, functioning life – as all Australians deserve.

A recent 300 page confidential draft of proposed legislative changes to the NDIS that was leaked to The Sydney Morning Heraldhighlights existing support services, assessment criteria and processes (to name a few) that are set to be removed and/or redefined which will create further difficulty for both existing NDIS recipients and future applicants.

Having had both direct and indirect experience with the processes and support the NDIS provides, this latest proposal concerns me greatly.  I have friends who, through no fault of their own, have become permanently disabled and I have watched them suffer further as they and their carers have struggled to navigate the system.  Their mental health has suffered as they have worked to ‘justify their position.  Having said that, I have also witnessed that once through the ‘red tape train’, the support and services have been impressive.  For these examples, my observation is that reform on process and consultation with direct stakeholders to create that reform would be a solution.

I’ve also spoken with allied services including swimming centres who have NDIS children weekly for their health classes.  I’ve seen the children and the joy and results they receive from this wonderful support.  However, the centres themselves speak of major challenges directly with the NDIS admin when attempting to get the approved remuneration. Again, I would suggest this is a reform issue not a ‘take this away from the legislation’ issue.

The report speaks of a perceived ‘benefit’ by removing various assessment processes and applying a ‘one size fits all approach with department psychologists and staff.  I have direct experience in this area.  This is NOT a solution.  For a child (or even an adult) to receive an Autistic and Spectrum assessment, for example, in South Australia, the waiting list is currently 12-15 months with a fee of approximately $500.  There is the option to have a private assessment with registered Autistic Spectrum Psychologists & Speech Therapists which can be done within 4 weeks at a fee of approximately $1200.

Parents want their children to be supported and assisted as a priority.  Many would take the 2nd option so that that support and pathway forward could be commenced.

By removing these options and replacing them with Department Health professionals I can only see that 1) the waiting list time would blow out to beyond 12 months 2) the fees would potentially increase making it unattainable for many 3) a layer of Bureaucracy that would potentially be ticking boxes and working to reduce the number of approved people thus creating a reversal of support and care!

The NDIS was created to support Australians.  It is a $22billion industry that has equal merit to any other Government portfolio.

It is NOT a portfolio that can be used as a ‘bank account’ for withdrawals to fund or bolster up other portfolios or departments.

As a community, we need to make some noise on this issue and make it loud.

Our vulnerable members in our community need us to ensure that they are protected and cared for.  

We do this by ensuring that they have a ‘seat at the decision-making table’.

We do this by contacting our Members of Parliament, especially in the Senate Federally, to let them know that these type of proposals and negative changes to the NDIS are not for the good of the people.

There is so much more to this story however for right now, let me suggest that if we allow the deflections and distractions that so often occur within departments take us away from this issue … 430,000 Australians living with a disability and their carers will be the ones who will silently suffer more.

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– Heart Hugs, Jaynie xxx

Jaynie Morris

Jaynie Morris is an Author, Speaker and Advocate for Women over 50.  She is the Founder of SheroesUnlimited Global Community for Women Over 50. 

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