A while ago there was a study released about the costs of raising a child on the Spectrum, which placed the costs at around $35,000 a year. When you first hear that number, it seems like a lot. $35,000 could buy you a nice new car, maybe a luxury overseas holiday or just imagine the shoes!
Since we all celebrated the first launch sites for the National Disability Insurance Scheme one of the biggest sources of uncertainty that has emerged is what will happen to disability advocacy services in this mix.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has great potential to improve the lives of people with psychosocial disability associated with mental illness. If we are to meet the needs of these people, however it is absolutely crucial that we get the broad architecture of the scheme right.
I’m sitting on the back deck of our humble home in Melbourne’s outer east, with my laptop, looking into the large backyard my nieces and nephews refer to as “the park”. Every time I sit here I can’t help thinking of the Creedence lyrics “Doo, doo, doo lookin’ out my backdoor”.
Hayden McLean can’t live with his family, and nor should he be expected to at 36 years of age. He needs his space for his various projects such as French knitting and drawing. He likes to be free and explore the world around him. Some have called this ‘absconding’. His mother calls it “accessing the community”.
The service providers are grappling with the need to change old models that do not always fit new ways of thinking, the bureaucrats are struggling to make a large and developing system encompass the needs of the most diverse of all populations.
By any measure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities are some of the most disadvantaged Australians, often facing multiple barriers to their meaningful participation within their own communities and the wider community.
A central aim of the NDIS is to provide equity of access to disability support. The terrible inequities of the past where access to disability support was based on rationing and queues should be banished. However, does the scheme as so far designed ensure equity of access for all people with disability or only for those people who have the awareness and understanding to seek out the NDIS or have family advocates to support them with this? Many people with disability are not in this position.
As we near two years since the start of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) we are beginning to get a handle on how this complex reform is living up to its promise to improve the lives of people with disability through choice, control and person centred support within an insurance approach.
Fresh from participating in the Special Olympics Torch Run through Melbourne, Pippa Swanwick is gleeful about being interviewed on the Channel 7 news about her role in the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Nestled in the outer Eastern suburbs of Melbourne is a light and leafy abode, the home of Sue and Chloe Dymond. They welcome me quite literally with open arms, and having followed their life journey in Sue’s book ‘Waising Miss Chloe’, I was only too comfortable with this.
Our investment in the NDIS is a landmark achievement. However Australia requires deep cultural, structural, economic, legal and attitudinal change if we are to deliver on the reform agenda outlined by the Productivity Commission for disability in this country.
I roared out of the garage of Sydney University, and the College of Law, a shiny new lawyer. My social justice engine, fuelled by its knowledge of unfair dismissals and unconscionable contracts, was ready to drive people from the back roads of disadvantage onto the freeway of life.