Protecting the NDIS is more than just an election issue for politicians

I couldn’t agree more! For me, as a person with disability, if you are unsure who to vote for in this upcoming election, please support ....

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By Fiona Bridger, Research and Writer, Achieve Australia

We all know that the election is coming up on Saturday 21 May and that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a hot topic. 

After only 9 years, it appears the NDIS is already in crisis. The NDIS was designed to give people with disabilities the chance of living an equal and fair life like everybody else in the community.

However, this is not what is happening, and people must fight for adequate funding for therapy, wheelchairs, support workers, pieces of equipment and so on. Plus, there is a national shortage of support workers due to COVID and the impact on our economy.

“I don’t know that it [the NDIS] will be front and centre in the high-level political debate, but it’s going to continually pop up,” said Achieve Australia’s Chief Operating Officer, Daniel Kyriacou recently at an internal staff event at the beginning of the election campaign. 

I echo Daniel’s sentiments, and feel we need to step up and speak out. The NDIS currently has some 500,000 participants according to official figures [NDIS Minister’s report March 2022 – active participants now nearly 519k but I am no expert on the figures]. Of those, 150,000 participants are receiving financial and tangible support for the very first time. Under the current government, individual plans are likely to be cut due to the budget required to fund people’s NDIS Plans. If this happens and an individual receives a plan that they are not happy with, they can choose to take it to court. With this path legal fees are incurred that to me, are a waste of money and time. The money could be better spent on what the individual is asking for in the first place. People with disability need support, especially if they have their loved ones taking care of them, as it is a full-time job. Under this current government, we are unsure if they are going to fully fund the NDIS and provide the care and support people need.

According to Daniel, the focus of the NDIS debate should not be on, “How do we reduce costs, but how do we increase the contribution of people with disability in our community?”

To me, comments made in the lead up to the election demonstrate that Scott Morrison has no idea about the NDIS or the impact it has on people's lives. He clearly is also unaware of the impact of his words and doesn't understand the blessing of having a child with a disability. His comments are old-fashioned, and he gives the impression that he is not very supportive of people with disability. He has no idea what people with disability and their families must go through and his comments illustrate this point. 

“I think it is important that people with disabilities are represented at every level in decision making when it comes to the NDIS. I think that’s really critical,” said Daniel.

This point is vital. I believe that under a Liberal government, they will try to cut back on the number of individuals who are a part of the scheme. The Labor government launched the NDIS and it’s my belief they are more committed to continuing with full funding.

As Daniel said, we should be reviewing the benefits and the outcomes of the NDIS …rather than the dollar cost of the NDIS.

Being a person on the NDIS, I have had a very positive view of it. I can speak up for myself and I have got a very supportive team behind me because of the NDIS. However, I’m very worried about those individuals who cannot speak up for themselves or the individuals who do not have a support team behind them. It is a very bumpy road to have a disability and sometimes it feels like a full-time job. I wish that all people needing support from NDIS would receive it. The Scheme is life-changing and liberating! 

As Daniel said, the NDIS isn’t all of the disability work the government needs to do. He said every single department in the federal government has a role to play in supporting people with disability so they can engage and participate fully in our community. 

I couldn’t agree more! For me, as a person with disability, if you are unsure who to vote for in this upcoming election, please support the Labor party as it could help people with a disability.  I’m worried that the Liberal party will cancel the Scheme completely.