Has the NDIS made society more inclusive of daily activities for people with disability?

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By Fiona Bridger, Researcher and Writer, Achieve Australia   

An important goal of the NDIS is to assist people with disabilities (pwd) be inclusive members of society. The goal is for pwd to attend mainstream schools, have accessibility to all buildings such as sports and art centers,  have equal employment opportunities, and be independent in their living arrangements as far as it is possible. To achieve these goals, the objective is for the NDIS to create a plan designed to fund an individual’s needs and goals which the individual wants to cover. This plan is reviewed annually.  

 Before the NDIS was founded, my parents used to take me to social events. I didn’t want to attend because I was embarrassed to have my parents behind my back all the time.  

 My parents did all of the physical and emotional caring for me. I was 16 when I got my first support worker. This was under the old and broken government scheme called Disability Care. The scheme was not very user-friendly as I couldn’t even use my funding to go out and meet my own personal goals.  

I didn’t have much of a life as a teenager because my parents were always there. As a teenager to be seen with my parents was very uncool. Growing up I knew that I wanted to go to university to study art. This goal got me through high school. My parents paid for everything such as wheelchairs, communication aids, therapies, and so on.  

I have a BVA in visual arts with a major in photo media, an MA in Art Administration and a Post Graduate Diploma in public policy.  My parents often drove me to lectures and I used to record lectures to get the information. I had some support from people who came to uni to assist me with personal care. I didn’t have much social life independent of my parents.  I did some volunteer work in the university art gallery. This was lots of fun.   

It was very difficult, almost impossible, to get a job. I tried to get a job in the arts field for many years. I did lots of volunteering in this field.  

When the NDIS came in, I was doing my Post Graduate Diploma. My first plan allowed me to have more control over my life. I was able to do lots of things without family involvement such as sailing, going out to comedy shows, live music performances, cooking dinner, shopping, working, going to the office walking my dog, going away for weekends, to a therapist.  

I’m now looking at moving out of home and into supported independent accommodation. It’s progress. All of these things would not have been possible without the   NDIS. 

The NDIS has changed my life because I can choose with whom I want to work and where and when I want to go.  

Before the NDIS came in, I did lots of volunteering work to get into the arts field. I had a contract with the MCA. It was only for 3 months. However, there wasn’t enough funding to keep me on.  

When the NDIS came in, I rethought my career because I could see that I wasn’t getting into the arts field. I decided to dip into public policy because I wanted to be a voice for pwd, especially around equal employment.  I had a job with a Disability & and Diversity Alliance before joining Achieve Australia. I love my work because it has opened my mind to see that there can be equal opportunities for people with disabilities in the workplace. 

I’m quite my own person. I can go up to see my best friend who is in Queensland with a support worker, I can go sailing, go to work, and be social with my friends. I have a choice and control over my life. I’m thinking about moving out of the home to be more independent.  

My team has been a great support to me. None of my tasks is too difficult for them to fulfill. A good example is when I wanted to go to see my best friend in Queensland without a family member. So, I asked my support worker to come, and I had a great time with her. The team I currently have can only see my abilities (not the disabilities) to achieve my goals in life. I have many years of experience with support workers. Now, I am able to choose and manage who I want to be my support worker. With the NDIS, I have control and choice over my life.  

PWD want to be treated like everyone else with or without disabilities. Society must be aware of this fact and be open to changing to support the inclusion of people with disabilities in daily activities.   

Published  15 August, 2022