NDIS – Why is WA holding out?

“Too often those who live with a disability are the ignored or shunned of our society. Too often this is possible because those living with disabilities are regularly left without a voice or face or presence in our society.” – from Where do we stand? With whom do we stand?  People with disability and the call of Jesus
Patrick McArdle and Patricia Mowbray CSJS #73

Given that the Australian Catholic Bishops have voiced their support for the Federal government’s commitment to DisabilityCare Australia (National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) http://www.parra.catholic.org.au/news—events/latest-news/latest-news.aspx/catholic-bishops-support-disabilitycare.aspx and all other states and territories in Australia have signed up for the scheme, why is it WA has not yet signed up?  According to Bishop Hurley, the Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life,  “DisabilityCare will ensure that there is funding for essential support and care for people with disabilities including respite, therapy, aids, equipment, home modification and access to community care and education,”  What position should we be adopting from our local perspective on this issue?

Perhaps the refusal to sign up is just political manoeuvring on behalf of Premier Colin Barnett , who commented last week that going into a Federal election was not a “good time” to be debating this {issue} and believes that post the election that rationality and flexibility will prevail? http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/17067689/wa-wont-sign-up-to-ndis-until-after-polls/  Or is it genuine concern that WA already has a better scheme in place and that centralised control of the Federal scheme could result in poorer outcomes for people with disability?  “The Commonwealth Government’s proposal that a new national agency take over responsibility for the system risks disrupting the services and supports people receive by reducing flexibility to local needs, changing the way service providers are funded and undermining established relationships”.  See factsheet1 http://www.disability.wa.gov.au/reform1/reform/national-disability-insurance-scheme/

According to Senator Rachel Siewert, the Australian Greens Spokesperson on Disability Services  there is a lot is misinformation being circulated about how the scheme which will not come into effect until 2019, will operate. “The whole (NDIS) system is still under design and the launch sites will be monitored, evaluated and refined during the gradual three-year rollout, to make sure it works in the real world.”  The claims that the current WA scheme is preferable in terms of outcomes for those with disabilities don’t appear to be support with much hard evidence  http://www.abc.net.au/rampup/articles/2013/05/13/3758065.htm

On the 10th anniversary of the UN’s International Day of Families http://www.un.org/en/events/familyday/ it is appropriate to consider the place of families with special needs as raised in the 2012-2013 Social Justice Statement: The Gift of Family in Difficult Times (pg 11)

“Around four million Australians have a disability resulting from a health condition. Almost 1.3 million people have a severe disability that requires the support of a carer. There are over 2.5 million people providing informal care to people who are ageing or have a disability. Families and friends provide over 1.3 billion hours of care each year, which would cost around $40 billion to provide if informal care were not available.

The costs to those who give and receive care are enormous. Forty-five per cent of people with a disability live in or near poverty and are significantly disadvantaged when it comes to social activities, education, employment, income generation and buying a home.  Those who provide informal care may be passed over for promotion because they have to balance the demands of work and home. Carers can be forced to withdraw from work or education when the need for care increases. Often overwhelming demands fall on children or ageing parents and grandparents.”

While there are perhaps questions that need to be answered about the operation of the NDIS in WA, I think in this we need to support the views of our bishops, that we all strive towards an inclusive society and stand in support of the four million Australians who need us most.  While it may not be within our power to order them to “pick up their stretcher and go off home” Mark 2:1-12 surely we can be like Christ and help them by carrying their stretcher or support those who do.
Nigel Hayward

Updated: May 22, 2013 — 5:12 am
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