"Complete Reform of how it is Now!"
"Current disability support arrangements are inequitable, underfunded, fragmented, and inefficient and give people with a disability little choice. The current arrangements cannot be called a genuine system". says the Productivity Commission in its extensive report of July 2011, Volume 1, Overview, page 5.
At the National Press Club in Canberra, Dr Rhonda Galbally said: "If it's not complete reform, as is recommended, then the value of the NDIS won't be nearly as much".
"Some houses operate from an 'institution' mindset, catering for residents' physical needs rather than operating like a home where residents are encouraged to develop an independence limited only by their own capacity. The reactive nature of DHS's response to accommodation needs, combined with the stringent prioritisation criteria, is likely to continue, and therefore perpetuate a crisis-driven system", says the Victorian Auditor General in his report - Mar 2008.
"The impetus to always keep group homes looking clean detracts from the need to provide support to residents", says the Public Advocate of Victoria, in her report of July 2010.
Dr Galbally reinforced the existence of the current problems and of the need for complete reform - not just more funding to compound the existing problems.
At the National Press Club in Canberra, Dr Galbally said:
"Two years ago, I came to the National Press Club to deliver a state of union for people with a disability in their families in this nation. Two years ago, I told of another world that few people knew existed; a world where Australians were forgotten, abandoned, ignored. Let me remind you of this world.
In this world, you're entitled to two showers a week. The rest of the time you're forced to lie in your own urine until someone can be found to shower you again. You give up work, you give up going out; you are too ashamed to see your friends. You are isolated and alone.
In this world, if you're a child who needs a wheelchair, you will find the cost is not covered. Your parents hold cake stalls and raffles. They ask the local Rotary for help, but by the time the chair arrives, you've already grown out of it.
In this world, if you have a child with autism or any other disability, you face a bewildering maze of fragmented services. You go to one funding body after another, you have so many appointments, so many assessments, you spend so much time filling out forms, on top of course, of trying to care for your child alone, that you're exhausted. You give up trying to work.
Australian's with a disability in their families are currently held to ransom, having to accept anything that is offered, even if it is the wrong equipment or the wrong support, that isn't at the right time of day and not doing the things that need to bedone. They are beggars, and beggars have to accept anything that's dished out.
This is the world that people with a disability and their families endure all day, every day right now in Australia. In fact, the last great leap forward for people with a disability was 30 years ago, when we fought so hard to close the institutions that gave people life sentences, shutting them away from society from birth to death.
We mostly won that battle for de-institutionalisation, but we lost the fight for social and economic inclusion.
So what has changed in the two years since I was here last? What has changed is hope. Where there was once despair, there is now hope. And this is because a new era has begun; an era that for the first time ever has all parts of the disability world working together for a common vision. The engine room of the new era is a powerful coalescing of people with a disability, carers and disability service providers.
This engine room is called the National Disability and Carers Alliance, and I would like to acknowledge the members of the alliance, from Carers Australia, the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and National Disability Services.
And from this alliance has come the Every Australian Counts campaign. Since January this year, the campaign has amassed almost 100,000 supporters from every part of the country and from all walks of life. It's a powerful, grass roots movement of people who've put up their hand to say enough is enough and demand a fair go for people with a disability and their families. And Australia is the only country in the world to build an alliance of all those affected by disability.
All united, all determined to wake Australia up and to ask for major reform. And now for the first time we are all optimistic. We're optimistic because after an exhaustive 18 month inquiry, the Productivity Commission has handed down their final report in just August this year. And by the way, this is the hard-nosed Productivity Commission who aren't known for their bleeding hearts.
And they recommended introducing a national disability insurance scheme for all Australians. Just 10 days after receiving the landmark report, the Federal Government announced that it would introduce the national disability insurance scheme, and nine days after this announcement all premiers and first ministers from around the country met at the Council of Australian Governments and all agreed to work together to implement the national disability insurance scheme.
Given the history of disagreements between federal and state governments, this was indeed an extraordinary commitment. And since that time, the states and territories have agreed to work with the Federal Government to speed up the full nationwide implementation, to reduce the roll-out time from seven years as recommended by the Productivity Commission to six years.
To the people around the country who are in desperate need of support, this speeding up of the roll-out is very welcome indeed. This is the quickest turnaround response of any government to a report of this nature.
All governments in Australia have now decided together that we need to transform how we treat people with a disability and their families.
And not only all governments but all parties. In this often fractious political environment, the national disability insurance scheme has received strong bipartisan support.
Why this unprecedented level of support from all political parties, and the rare state and federal cooperation? Because they all know that the system is broken and must be fixed. They know that people with disabilities and their families will not give up.
They know that it is just plain wrong to allow this area of gross neglect to continue. And they also know that a national disability insurance scheme will add significantly to the productivity of Australia. The transformative potential of the national disability insurance scheme is enormous but it is at heart a simple idea.
Number one; create a consistent and secure national pool of funds and from these funds draw-down the necessary support for people with a disability and their families.
Number two; allow people with a disability and their families control to choose the services and supports that best suit them and their needs, allow them the dignity that comes from control and choice.
Three; create a system that is not only effective and efficient but is flexible and responsive to individual needs.
Four; build a system with the incentive to get people what they need when they need it so that they can maximise their opportunities to participate fully in every aspect of Australian society.
For example, home modifications and personal support and domestic help will be available straightaway. This will mean that people will no longer be left to languish in hospital or sent to nursing homes or abandoned in respite care beds because their families can no longer cope. Wheelchairs and other equipment will be supplied as soon as they are needed.
People with a disability will then be able to get an education, return to work, or get ajob or keep a job.
Early intervention will be just that, early and enough for every child with a disability who can benefit from it. Then all young children with a disability will be able to reach their potential and have every opportunity to participate in a full education, so necessary for their future.
Young people with disabilities will be like all other young people, able to make decisions about who they live with, where they live, how they live. They will be able to leave home and move to as independent an adult life as is possible.
And so the fears of aged parents who are haunted by what will happen to their older adult child will finally be put to rest.
The national disability insurance scheme will allow families to return to being families. Mums and dads, brothers and sisters, partners, husbands and wives, who will of course still care that the caring role will no longer dominate their lives.
It will mean that mothers and fathers will no longer find their relationships fractured by the stress. People with disability will never again be seen as burdens on families. I know what a hurtful and divisive issue this has been.
People with a disability hate that characterisation as burdens. It strikes at the very core of our being. And yet the reality is that this is the experience of carers when they are left to do everything with no help and no hope. Without support the relentlessness is hard to bear.
But the piece of mind which will come from the national disability insurance scheme is not just for those who already have a disability, like Medicare it is for every Australian. Every Australian will be able to rest easy knowing that they are certain of reasonable care and support for them or their family member who may become disabled.
This is important because disability can occur at any stage of life, from many causes, from birth, from sport, from cars, from falling off a ladder, from stroke, Parkinson's, MS and many other illnesses.
This transformation of the landscape does of course come with a price tag. The Productivity Commission estimates that the system is underfunded by approximately half. That means an additional $6.5 billion will - by the final roll-out year of 2017. This is for an effective and sustainable system to meet the social and economic needs of the nation.
The national disability insurance scheme is an investment in the potential of people with a disability. By providing them with targeted and timely supports, many will beenabled to enter the workforce and so help meet the significant productivity challenges which face Australia.
And by providing people with appropriate support, the national disability insurance scheme will also allow families to participate fully in the economy and the community. Many new jobs will be created, new aids and equipment will be manufactured, new services will be developed.
So it is for all of these reasons that the Productivity Commission concluded that the economic benefits of the national disability insurance scheme far exceeds the costs.
But in the end this may not be the greatest benefit. The national disability insurance scheme will mean that people with a disability will become fully citizens of Australia rather than objects of charity. They will be able to participate in the community; becoming neighbours, colleagues and friends.
In the process they will become people seen as worthy of investment; as Australians with potential; as valuable contributing citizens of this country.
The national disability insurance scheme means that Australians with disabilities in their families will move from begging to dignity. They will move from charity to human rights. Australia will leapfrog from being one of the worst OECD performers on disability into a leadership position.
The national disability insurance scheme is this generation's greatest reform, benefiting every Australian. Every Australian is a stakeholder in the development of the national disability insurance scheme."
Canberra, Tuesday night, 22 November 2011:
At the National Disability Awards, the Prime Minister said:
"The decision I announced in August is a not just a preliminary hint or an aspiration. It is the green light for a National Disability Insurance Scheme in this country. The time for words is over. The time for action has come. We will get this thing done. We are working to deliver change to disability care and support that means:
- People with disability will be supported to participate in and contribute to social and economic life to the extent of their abilities.
- People with disability and their carers will have certainty and receive the individualised care and support they need over their lifetime.
- The care and support needs of people with disability are met over their lifetime through an insurance approach, not the crisis-driven approach of the past, and
- People with disability will be able to exercise more choice and control in their lives.
Too many generations of parents have gone to their graves not knowing what the future held for their children with disability as they grew to middle age.
So I say this as your Prime Minister tonight: Not another generation will face that agonising choice.
The nation has opened it heart and it will not be closed again.
A system that looks like this is a fundamental change from the system we have today. It is not just another spending program to be raised and cut as budgets come and go".
LISA Comment: In Victoria, almost all services for people with a disability are directly or indirectly controlled by the state government, through their 'Department of Human Services (DHS)'. Community Service Organisations (CSOs), funded by the DHS, are ham-strung by this out-of-control state government department - using much of their resources battling DHS bureaucracy.
The Office of the Public Advocate, the Auditor General and the Productivity Commission, clearly have service level and quality concerns. Yet these pseudo government departments do little to ensure complete reform, leaving service users with little more than ISPs to SDA where they have concerns with traditional services.
Traditional and entrenched services in Victoria are mainly those of the state government - the DHS. DHS 'reactive' not 'proactive' management being a large percentage of the reason for all the service problems for which they, DHS, are in total denial. The remaining percentage being the reactive nature of their captive market and entrenched public service culture. A culture of, "No one 'owns the company, no one is responsible and no employee need do anything they don't want to do".
With such state government entrenchment, we question the NDIA will do little more than leave people with a disability and their families to totally rely on a relatively limited ISP market-place to drive service level and quality. They, NDIA, doing little more than provide more money for the same old 'minder care'. Those suffering this now, have little hope for the foreseeable future, but to pin their hopes on Dr Galbally's and Prime Minister Gillard's predictions being really meaningful at some point in the distant future.
Extra 1: Mother offered $220,000 in Gag/Hush Money by DHS Victoria