Tasmanians on NDIS Get Subsidy ‘Safety Net’
17 November 2016 at 12:35 pm
Tasmanians on the National Disability Insurance Scheme have been given a “welcome reprieve” with access to a temporary taxi subsidy following complaints from advocates that people living with disability were being left out of pocket.
Tasmania’s Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding announced the “transport safety net” this week to enable NDIS trial participants who have exhausted their NDIS transport support funding to receive a temporary taxi subsidy smart card, valid until the end of June next year.
It comes after the government was criticised earlier this month after Hidding said the government could not fund subsidised transport for people who switched to the national scheme.
But Hidding said the government was “committed to supporting Tasmania’s most vulnerable”.
“That is why we have strongly supported the National Disability Insurance Scheme from day one, and have committed $572 million over the next four years to fund it,” Hidding said.
“However, with every major reform like this there are implementation issues, and it is clear that in this case a small number of users of the Taxi Subsidy have been disadvantaged in the transition period.
“In order to ensure nobody is worse off as a result of this transition, the Hodgman government has decided to implement a transport safety net for NDIS trial participants.”
Since November 1, Tasmanians who had transitioned to the NDIS had been forced to give up access to a state-funded taxi subsidy, with the state government giving the money directly to the NDIS.
But families and disability advocates came forward to say the switch had left them worse off.
Hidding said this latest taxi subsidy would give participants time to seek to have their transport plans under the NDIS adjusted “to more accurately reflect their circumstances, whilst not being adversely affected”.
“The government will continue to engage closely with the federal government and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to have this transport matter resolved, and to facilitate a smooth transition to the NDIS more broadly,” he said.
Jane Wardlaw, a director at Wardlaw and Brown Consulting, a leading specialist consultants in disability engagement and participation in Tasmania, told Pro Bono Australia News the taxi subsidy was a reprieve.
“So I just think this gives us a little bit of leeway,” Wardlaw said.
“This is an opportunity really for the state government and the NDIA, to rollout a more meaningful consultation process around how they are going to manage the transport needs of people living with profound and severe disability.
“In my opinion up until the NDIS there has been really a desert of data, we really haven’t had a lot of research and data collection around the needs of people living with disability and I think transport is one of those areas.
“What they’ve done, is they have made a change that has had a significant impact on the industry itself, so the taxi industry here in the state and it has also had an impact on families and more importantly people living with a disability too.
“So this six month reprieve until June, really is an opportunity for the government and the NDIA to …better understand what are the transport barriers, what are the options out there, how can we do things more effectively and efficiently and more affordably for people living with disability.”
Wardlaw, who is a wheelchair reliant user, said she was a big supporter of the NDIS.
“As a person living with disability, I am all for a system that allows people to have more choice and control over the decisions and the support that they need, that impacts on their lives, and that’s how I see the NDIS,” she said.
“But I think that they [NDIA] are under pressure to deliver, and bring in as many people as they can do in a short period of time, with political pressures that might be impacting on the way the scheme is being rolled out.
“I think the NDIS is a much welcomed change…the need is so great out there…[but] they need to be bringing people along with them.”