Rebuttal readers generally hate politics, particularly national politics. I know this because readership generally drops at the mere mention of both Abbott and Gillard. An exception was the article about Bernie Brookes which broke all records – But that was more, I suspect, because it was the flavour of the moment. Yesterday was Budget Day so in this version of The Rebuttal I thought I would make comment on the funding of the NDIS….. ZZZZZZZZZZZZ Do try to concentrate because, nevertheless, what follows is an important observation.
The NDIS will be funded in full by 2019. Measures have been put in place to ensure that the scheme will continue. In doing so Labor have ensured that the roll-out of the NDIS will not be hampered even if the Government changes. According to Labor figures the NDIS will provide care and support for 410 000 people with a disability.
We should not be celebrating just yet. Even though the NDIS is now part of legislation and even though it has the support of both sides of politics, there is much work to do. Now is the time that people with a disability must remain diligent and vocal or they may well find themselves with a program that is developed that is not quite what they envisioned.
Of late I have had a few discussions about the Governments view of “Self Directed Funding”. I strongly believe that the Governments vision for this and the vision of people with a disability and their carers is poles apart. I believe the Governments vision is that funding will be allocated to the individual. These individuals will then use this money to purchase supports from an approved list of suppliers. In this sense they can only choose what the Government views as appropriate. A better way of seeing this is self directed entitlement.
Now the vision of people with a disability, I believe, is very different. I believe they feel that self directed funding is just that. The only criteria they believe should be there is that this funding be used for their supports and services. In this sense if a person with a disability chooses to use a friend or family member to carry out their care they should be able to do that and pay them. After all isn’t this what choice is all about? They might choose to go on holiday overseas and choose to pay a colleague to go with them so that they are cared for on holiday. That colleague can be a friend or a family member and be paid for.
As far as the way people with a disability are thinking I do not believe the Government, or any of the politicians for that matter, are on the same page. The proof, as they say, will be in the detail. Me thinks we all need to be watching carefully as the trial NDIS regions begin to commence in June or July. This will give an indication of just how autonomous the Government believes self directed funding should be. There may be some rude shocks.
The second issue we need to be looking at is just how far reaching the NDIS will be. Officially the Government is using a figure of 410 000 people. Now in 2004 the Centre for Population Studies in Epidemiology in South Australia suggested that there were 3.25 million people or 16.6% of the population with a hearing loss. Now not all of these will require support but many will and that figure does not include people under 15 years of age. Suffice to say 3.25 million is 7 times more than the numbers that the Government are claiming will benefit from the NDIS. So are the deaf being considered as part of the NDIS? The short answer is no! Hearing Rehabilitation, assistive technology, hearing aid replacement and maintenance, interpreters, captioning and so on, all things that are vital, none are really being considered as part of the NDIS.
I mean the number of people with Autism in Australia is said to be 1 out of every 166 people or approximately 136 213 people. In Australia over 700 000 people are said to have an intellectual or developmental disability. There are said to be 292 700 people who are Blind or vision impaired and there are a whopping 3.4 million who have some form of physical disability .
Now if we add up the numbers for autism, vision impairment, intellectual/developmental and physical disability this comes to 4 528 913. The Government figure of 410 000 people being supported by the NDIS only equates to 9% of that figure. It is worth noting that I have not included the statistics for hearing loss in this figure and we have not even touched on mental health yet.
I accept not all the people who have a disability will require support under the NDIS but 9% of the population of people with a disability, and that is excluding hearing loss, seems proportionally low. The figures are not adding up. It’s clear to me that there is much work to be done. The Governments thinking and the thinking of people with a disability are poles apart. The NDIS is here YAY! BUT the hard work has really only just begun.