I have never met you. Until this year I had actually never heard of you. A certain Ms Higgins brought your name to the fore. Among other things I found out that you were the Minister of Defence. You came across as pretty feisty, even going as far as calling Ms Higgins a liar and comparing her with a female of the bovine family. It seems that the stress got to you and you became quite ill. I sincerely hope that you are well now and on the mend.
What I am about to say may hurt, even make you angry, It is possible that you will even compare me to an animal and and label me any number of things that might include a liar, shit stirrer, A/hole or whatever. I understand that your job is thankless and that toeing the party line is something that you must do, even if you do not agree with it. I get it, and I don’t want to get personal. However, I fear that I will.
I am angry and very frustrated with ongoing comments about the “cost blowout “of the NDIS. I am tired of hearing it. As a person with a disability I am also tired of being labelled a burden to society, which I assure you, I am not. I am exasperated that no one in Government ever talks of the benefits of the scheme, and not just for people with a disability. As the Minister responsible for the NDIS, I and the Disability community expect you to be across this.
Let’s be clear, although the NDIS is expensive, it also contributes. It is creating employment, It is creating new markets. It is creating opportunities for greater economic input from people with a disability, their families, their friends and their colleagues. Indeed there is a figure in the old Productivity Commission Report about the NDIS that neither you, or anyone in the Government that you work for, ever mention.
You will see that the report estimated that the NDIS would increase the GDP by 1% and that the benefit was not just good social policy but good economic policy too. As the Minister responsible for the NDIS I expect you to talk the NDIS up, not down. I expect that you provide us with all the figures, not just the outgoings!! (Read this Ms Reynolds, it is hidden away in the NDIS own archives )
I am also frustrated that a lot of the unnecessary costs that you talk about are actually the result of having a workforce, including you as Minister, who don’t get the NDIS or disability. I assist NDIS participants to review their plans. This happens because decisions are made by the Agency that make no sense, whatsoever. You are fond of talking about inconsistencies. Let me tell you a couple of home truths.
Firstly, inconsistencies happen because no one person has the same needs. In my case I am deaf. I don’t need hearing aids because I am too deaf. My deaf friend up the road does. But she needs a specific hearing aid for her particular hearing loss. They are above the standard costs of hearing aids and needed because standard hearing aids will not assist her. She is socially and economically isolated because she has had to adapt to her hearing loss as she is latter deafened. Her NDIS plan is necessarily more expensive than mine as her needs are different. That’s how it works, there is no one size fits all.
Inconsistencies occur because a lot of the NDIS workforce, including you, don’t get this. As a consequence they make absolutely bizarre decisions that are constantly going for review. So bad is it that the NDIS reviews team cannot keep up and people are waiting months and months for decisions. Often they end up at AAT with all of the fat cat lawyers. Was it $23 million that the NDIS forked out on legal fees last year, much of it trying to defend some of the bizarre decisions that they make. If you want to investigate costs, look at the decision making process area first and don’t blame people with disability.
I have said it often, when the NDIS get it right it is a game changer. Thankfully this does happen a lot. However, there are too many crackpot decisions being made by people that do not know what they are doing, including a succession of Ministers like you.
Now let’s look at the blame game. It’s our fault you see. Us expensive disability folk are the reason the NDIS is not sustainable. (It couldn’t possibly be the ignorant ablebods screwing up the decision making could it?) Let’s look at some of the reasons you gave in a recent interview – You can read it here if you want to remind yourself – https://www.news.com.au/national/politics/minister-warns-ndis-will-outstrip-the-cost-of-medicare-in-two-years/news-story/3c2196792b7fd771161991548a4a2dca
Your first argument was that it is the Autistic’s fault. Apparently, it was expected that kids who are autistic would leave the scheme at some stage and not need ongoing support. They enter the NDIS as babies and they don’t exit when they are six. This means, according to you, there are more people with Autism on the scheme than anticipated and its expensive. This is why you need to employ people that get it. I despair!
I mean, what did you and they expect? That kids with Autism would get therapy and suddenly become “All Better” I am sure, in fact I know, that there are some that need less support over time. I know that there are others that continue to need support because our world is simply not designed for the way that they see and experience the world.
Like me and my deaf friend, people with autism don’t all experience autism in the same way and their need for support varies greatly. I dare say, a society that tries to make everyone fit the norm causes a lot of actual harm through the so called therapy. This, in turn, leads to the need for even greater support. It’s not the fault of people with autism that they require support, its the fault of a society that tries to mould everyone in to one size fits all. Please stop blaming them.
Then you said that when people with a disability get old and go past the age of 65 they are choosing to stay on the NDIS rather than go to Aged Care. This might be because Aged Care isn’t really designed for people with a disability in the same way that the NDIS is. The law is clear, if you are over 65, have a disability and are not on the NDIS you are not eligible. It is equally clear that if you are an NDIS participant and you turn 65, you can decide to remain on the NDIS or go to Aged Care.
This means that many people choose to remain on the NDIS rather than go to Aged Care because they know Aged care will not meet their needs. Why are you surprised? That’s the law and why it was written. Please stop blaming people who are turning 65 for making a decision that they see as best for them!
My favourite is that it is the fault of the obese. Apparently, there are too many people on the NDIS that are getting support because they are obese. Let’s be clear, obesity is not a disability. Any person worth their salt and works for the NDIS knows this. It is a medical condition. BUT!
- Some people who are obese have resulting and permanent physical disabilities. As a result they may need equipment and support because of those physical disabilities. Obesity is not the disability, but the other physical conditions are.
- Some people who have disabilities become obese through poor nutrition, social isolation and lack of physical activity. These people need support for their disabilities and this may lead to better nutrition and more exercise. This, in turn, may actually assist them to address their obesity.
BUT, lets be clear, it is the disability that is funded not the obesity.
This rationale that I have explained is what happens when you get it. This is what happens when you understand disability. I dare say, if anyone in the NDIS has classified obesity as a disability, well they need to review the legislation. It will be clear that obesity is not a disability but obesity may cause disability and visa versa, disability may cause obesity. Blaming people who are obese for some of the NDIS so called “cost blowout” is the most bizarre thing that I have read so far. And it came from you Minister Reynolds. That is scary!
I know that some of this will hurt and anger you. But I am hurt and I am angry too. I ask that you consider the points that I have raised. I ask, particularly, that you become more open minded of the broader benefits of the NDIS, that you acknowledge some of the internal reasons for “cost blowouts” and, more importantly, stop blaming people with a disability – That hurts!
Thank you for reading. That is all!
The Rebuttal Team