Before the last election both sides of politics refused to commit on any changes to the Disability sector because they were waiting for the findings from the Productivity Commission. Well … yesterday the Productivity Commission released its draft report into Disability Care and Support and to say it was damning of the current system would be a understatement. The report opens with the following 2 points
- The current disability support system is underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient, and gives people with a disability little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports.
- There should be a new national scheme — the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) — that provides insurance cover for all Australians in the event of significant disability. While Australians would pay more taxes (or governments would cut other spending), people would know that if they or their family acquired a significant disability, they would have a properly financed and cohesive system to support them
In principle and from what I had read so far this seems very encouraging (apart from the fact we are looking at a start date of 2014). However with most things and even more in the Disability Support Sector the devil is in the detail. What will and won’t be included. I am in the process of reading it now and will let you know my thoughts when I have had a chance to read it thoughly
My thoughts so far are that in principle I think that this is a great idea. A National Insurance Scheme to cover everyone in the event that they are affected by a disability and a person centre approach is needed. However I have some concerns of what might not be included from my readings so far (this might be covered in the full report and I might just not have got to it yet) …
- Autism seems to be spoken about primarily in the group of recipients under Early Intervention. While Early Intervention is critical for children with Autism. Children with Autism grow up to be Primary School Age Children with Autism, High School Aged Children with Autism and Adults with Autism. I am concerned that people with Autism will drop off the NDIS radar after they reach a certain age.
- Funding needs to be individualized and needs to be able to cover both services performed by professionals and others under their direction. So for example funding should cover not just the services provided by a psychologist, speech therapist and OT but also junior therapist (home based therapists) working under their instruction. While the first group would be covered under a scheme that would replicate what happens with the Helping Children with Autism Package the Junior Therapists would not. They need to look to wider examples as include therapy costs that are covered for example by the Medicare Tax Rebate.
- The NDIS Scheme needs to also cover additional needs of children with disabilities within the Education Sector. This includes (but is not limited to) the Employment of Dedicated Support Aids or Shadows. At the moment this is a massive whole in the current system that is often paid for my parents and families. Aids and Shadows that work in the Education environment should be considered a cost that is covered under the NDIS. This should not be a buck passing exercise between the education systems and the NDIS over who pays because in the end the one who does it the disabled child.
- The NDIS should not be means tested. This is stated in the report but it is something that should not be removed.
I would recommend that everyone who has a interest in the Disability Sector read the report and make a submission. Now is a time for your voice to be heard …