DRIVE OUT IN­EQUITY

Warwick Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - MAR­IAN FAA Mar­[email protected]­wick­dai­lynews.com.au

UN­FAIR­NESS within the Na­tional Dis­abil­ity In­sur­ance Scheme is leav­ing some peo­ple cut off from so­ci­ety and un­able to ac­cess vi­tal ser­vices while oth­ers zoom ahead with “Rolls-Royce” deals, a War­wick dis­abil­ity ad­vo­cate says.

Sur­veys taken from around the state ex­pose in­con­sis­tency in the in­for­ma­tion given to NDIS par­tic­i­pants about fund­ing for trans­port and mo­bil­ity, re­sult­ing in ma­jor in­equal­ity, ac­cord­ing to War­wick’s Jen­nifer Leigh OAM.

The busi­ness man­ager of Queens­land’s peak body for com­mu­nity trans­port (Trans­port Devel­op­ment and So­lu­tions Al­liance), Ms Leigh said the is­sue was lead­ing to so­cial iso­la­tion, pres­sure on fam­i­lies and could re­sult in re­duced fund­ing for NDIS par­tic­i­pants in the fu­ture.

“The en­tire scheme as it is rolled out is un­equal and in­equitable be­cause not ev­ery­one is given the same in­for­ma­tion about what is pos­si­ble to have funded in re­la­tion to trans­port,” she said.

When Stan­thorpe’s Pe­ter Matthews be­came an NDIS client last year, there was no con­ver­sa­tion with NDIS plan­ners about his trans­port needs and the cost of get­ting around.

Af­ter an ini­tial con­ver­sa­tion with his lo­cal area co­or­di­na­tor, Mr Matthews was told he would re­ceive $61.46 a fort­night for trans­port, which is less than the cost of a taxi to and from his house.

Now, on the days he needs a wheel­chair, Mr Matthews said he is “com­pletely sep­a­rated from the rest of the world”.

Di­ag­nosed with Parkin­son’s dis­ease and hemi­a­t­ro­phy two years ago, the Stan­thorpe man is un­able to buy gro­ceries, at­tend med­i­cal ap­point­ments and go to the post of­fice when his mo­bil­ity de­clines.

“To put it bluntly, it is rather de­press­ing. It is very dif­fi­cult to bat­tle through those days,” he said.

Mr Matthews said the ap­proach to trans­port was in­con­sis­tent with ev­ery­thing the scheme promised.

“The whole thing about the NDIS is it is about ac­ces­si­bil­ity and con­nect­ing peo­ple with the com­mu­nity,” he said.

“The rest of the scheme is ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic but I think it is let down by their trans­port model.”

Ms Leigh said the lack of in­for­ma­tion pro­vided to par­tic­i­pants

about trans­port al­lowed the scheme to save money and jus­tify cut­ting back on in­di­vid­ual bud­gets in the fu­ture.

“When the plan comes up for re­view and you have not spent all your money be­cause you could not ac­cess those ser­vices, they will start your new plan at the amount of money you have used,” she said.

“Then it is up to you to ad­vo­cate about why you should

be given more.”

Ms Leigh said some par­tic­i­pants re­ported trans­port ac­ces­si­bil­ity had not been ac­cepted by the scheme as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for re­tain­ing un­used money in their bud­get.

Ac­cord­ing to the NDIS, fund­ing for trans­port sup­ports such as taxis ranges from $1600 (level one) a year up to about $3500 (level three).

But Ms Leigh said some peo­ple could get fur­ther money

un­der the “core sup­ports” sec­tion of their NDIS plan.

“The sur­vey re­sults so far in­di­cate that a ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are not told about trans­port or they are only told about cer­tain lev­els of trans­port fund­ing they can get,” she said.

“But most peo­ple are not told that there is an­other sec­tion in their core sup­port fund­ing that is es­pe­cially for trans­port used to ac­cess core sup­ports.”

Af­ter speak­ing with par­tic­i­pants around Queens­land, Ms Leigh said the sys­tem was in­equitable.

“It’s just wrong that some peo­ple get more than oth­ers be­cause they can read in­vis­i­ble ink. If you are in the know you will get a Rolls-Royce but if you don’t know you will po­ten­tially get noth­ing.

“One mother on a pen­sion her­self is now pay­ing for her child’s trans­port costs.”

Mar­ian Faa Photo:

ON THE ROAD: TDSA busi­ness man­ager Jen­nifer Leigh has been talk­ing to NDIS par­tic­i­pants around the state, ex­pos­ing in­equity in the com­mu­ni­ca­tion and roll out of trans­porta­tion and mo­bil­ity sup­port within the NDIS. She vis­ited War­wick on Tues­day.

Photo: Mar­ian Faa

PUSH­ING FOR FAIR­NESS: TDSA busi­ness man­ager Jen­nifer Leigh has been talk­ing to NDIS par­tic­i­pants around the state about trans­porta­tion and mo­bil­ity sup­port within the NDIS.

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