Politics And The NDIS
26 July 2012 at 9:43 am
THAT AIN'T RIGHT- how do you explain your refusal to fund the NDIS to the electorate who voted for you – or don't you believe that Coalition voters have disabilities asks the President of the Victorian Disability Services Board and disability campaigner, Tricia Malowney.
I have just heard that the Coalition parties are standing firm in their resolve to not contribute to the NDIS. It's so disappointing to know that they think that 20 per cent of the population is unimportant – Horse racing, football, Olympians, car racing, fashion shows, art exhibitions, advertising – no problems – people with disabilities who can't contribute due to a lack of funding to get them the services they need – sorry, we have no money.
It always amazes me when I hear a politician talking about how "they" can't afford to implement the NDIS. Have they not read the Productivity Commission’s report, or the KPMG economic analysis of how much better it would be for Australia to implement the NDIS?
Australians with disabilities would be able to participate in the workplace if we were able to purchase the supports and services we need. It would also enable our families to be able to return to the workplace if we had appropriate supports.
I know no politicians will read this, they are not interested in anything that does not involve ‘patheticising’ people with disabilities (my own word for making people look pathetic) or posing with paralympians – who are achievers – as though to say to the rest of us “if they can do it so can you”. I don't want to be ‘patheticised’ or hero-worshipped, I just want access to the same opportunities as other Australians.
As a well known woman with a disability, other Australians with disabilities and their families often want to tell me their stories. This often is about how they feel disenfranchised from society because they or the person for whom they are providing support are unable to access the services that will enable them to do things the rest of Australia takes for granted. Outrageous things like showering, leaving the house, working…
So let me tell you about some of the things that I hear – and why the politicians need to stop thinking of short term financial budget balances, and look at long term strategies which will not only improve our lives, but will improve the financial sustainability of Australia in the long term as Australians with disabilities and their families are able to pay taxes.
A teenager with a disability has to travel to Melbourne each year to have essential equipment manufactured, because he is unable to get the equipment he needs in Far North Queensland – his parents have to take the time off work, they have to pay for their own transport and accommodation costs – which they are happy to do as he NEEDS this equipment to enable his continued access to his community. But here's the rub – they cannot claim the cost of the equipment because they didn't purchase it in their home state. THAT AIN'T RIGHT – The NDIS would enable portability – that would at least allow for the funding of the equipment.
A woman with a disability lives two miles from another woman with similar disabilities, but there is a state border between them. They have similar needs, but very different services provided to them, and people on the wrong side of the border must travel miles to get access to services in their own state. THAT AIN'T RIGHT – The NDIS would allow services to cross state lines. How innovative would that be!
We still have people who only get a shower twice a week – is that the way Australia wants to be seen by the rest of the world – we already do appallingly in OECD reports. THAT AIN'T RIGHT – I know that many politicians are on the nose – but I don't think that it is by not showering. The implementation of the NDIS won't help to sweeten the odour surrounding politicians, but will help Australians with disabilities to have some dignity.
We have Australians with disabilities who are living in pain because they have equipment that doesn't meet their needs because their condition has deteriorated, or because the equipment has worn out, or who are forced to remain at home because their equipment is broken and they have no money to have them repaired. THAT AIN'T RIGHT – the implementation of the NDIS will enable Australians with disabilities to access the community.
We have young Australians languishing in nursing homes because they do not have access to accessible housing with the necessary supports, unless you have TAC, work cover or insurance funding. Why should some people with disabilities be able to have accessible housing while others are to condemned to living without access to the community in aged care facilities. THAT AIN'T RIGHT – the implementation of the NDIS would redress the inequity issue.
Kids are still being denied access to mainstream schools because Australia treats Australians with disabilities as second class citizens. I know of one young bloke who is forced to be home schooled because his class is on the first floor and the school has no lift and the teacher won't move the class downstairs because she has always taught in that room – and they won't let him use his walking frame because it might be dangerous -TO WHO!!!! And yes, this is an Australian school – not somewhere in the third world! THAT AIN'T RIGHT – OK the NDIS probably won't change things for this kid – but how could I miss an opportunity to raise this. Watch for this one Graeme Innes, I have pointed his parents in the direction of HREOC.
I am not the only one who feels this way – Graeme Innes said today:
"It is unacceptable for people to be only having two showers a week, or leaving their house several times a year, because leaders cannot agree on funding arrangements for this scheme," Commissioner Innes said. "This critical reform needs to become a reality." (Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, in Australian Human Rights Commission Mailing List Service 25 July 2012).
This isn't about us draining the public purse, it is about us being able to contribute to the public purse.
And please, don't forget if you are not an Australian with a disability, you are probably related to one of us.
Tricia Malowney is the President of the Victorian Disability Services Board and a disability campaigner.