Saturday, October 29 2011
The number one principle of NDIS is to give people rights, entitlement-based services and equipment. The second most important principle, is choice of services and equipment through personal control of funding – individualised funding - “Individualised Service Package (ISP)”.
This is a real sea-change compared to the present charity hand-out, where people, already disadvantaged, have to beg, crawl and lick state government bureaucratic boots to get a few crumbs, if they are lucky. And they must always be eternally grateful to big bureaucratic brother for whatever they get or don’t get, and never, ever, complain.
Nevertheless, despite the potential sea-change if state government bureaucrats don’t try to devise a means of retaining their present power-over-people, power base, there is a potential down-side of the ISP process.
With state governments handing-out a few ISPs over the years since families pressed for an extension of “Futures Funding”, there has been a rise in “Bad-Debts”. This is service providers not being paid for services provided within the ISP funding. There has always been a problem of living expenses not being paid to group home service providers from the person’s DSP.
Service providers in Victoria, especially, are experiencing non-payment or delayed payment of funds for transport, day activity, respite and support services, where payments are due through a financial intermediary or direct.
Service providers in Victoria report having to write-off thousands of dollars of bad debt every year. This must equal lower level and quality of service overall, and is not the intention of ISPs.
Friday, October 28 2011
The Gillard Government’s controversial changes to the Social Security Act – which includes changes to the Impairment Tables used to determine eligibility for the Disability Support Pension - have passed through Parliament.
With the legislation passing through the Senate with coalition backing, people who apply for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) from the 1st January 2012 will be assessed under the new Impairment Tables.
The Impairment Tables are used in Disability Support Pension assessments to measure how a person's impairment affects their ability to work, and were last reviewed in 1993.
The government unveiled its plan to get people off the Disability Support Pension and into the workforce in July, revealing that the number of people receiving the DSP had reached 800,000, growing by 100,000 over the last 2 years alone. The changes to the Impairment Tables are estimated to save the government $35 million a year.
The Gillard Government said the legislation will ensure the Impairment tables “are able to be updated regularly and enable the introduction of new Tables that are consistent with modern medical and rehabilitation practice.” The Gillard government said the new tables “focus on what people are able to do, rather than what they can’t do”, however this has not stopped criticism of the changes.
The Greens say the government and coalition have united in supporting changes to the Social Security Act that are likely to lead to deeply unjust outcomes for vulnerable people. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said her party supports efforts to assist people into the workforce, however the changes will push large numbers of people with disabilities onto the Newstart allowance, a payment which is $131 a week below the DSP.
It has been estimated that as many as four out of every ten people who qualified for the Disability Support Pension earlier this year would not qualify under the new regime which is set to come into effect in 2012.
As well as less financial assistance, people will be forced to meet stricter activity requirements in a deeply inhospitable labour market
Thursday, October 20 2011
The “Office for Disability” is now within the power- base of the “Department of Human Services”!
The “Office for Disability” was set-up within the “Department of Planning and Community Development”, in 2006, independent of the “Department of Human Services”, with a mandate to put disability on the agenda across the Victorian Government.
The Office's role was to provide independent expert policy advice and support for the Minister for Community Services to implement a coordinated whole-of-government response to disability. And, to encourage all government departments, including the DHS, to have the right policies and practices for people with disabilities.
One of the main aims of the “Office for Disability” was to encourage and influence Victorian Government policy and activities to improve outcomes for people with a disability and to deal with barriers to participation in our communities.
Given there are few, if any watch-dogs over the DHS, it was refreshing to have the “Office for Disability”, isolated from the DHS, at the “Department of Planning and Community Development”, despite their gentle bark and no bite.
With the “Office for Disability” having no independent statutory, it was easy meat for the DHS to takeover this external voice - to tow the party-line from within their ranks.
Even so, those “Independent Statutory Bodies”, pseudo government departments, circle and protect the DHS from public scrutiny.
There is, therefore, only one person in the State of Victoria who can direct the DHS juganaught – “The Minister for Community Services”! It is, however, traditional government practice for Minister’s to defend their department from any form of customer or public scrutiny.
Friday, October 07 2011
DHS, DSR, Restrictive Practice – Victoria
Those with high support needs require two basic support packages – “Accommodation Support” and “Day Service”
Everyone who lives in a state government funded supported accommodation group home for people with an intellectual or multiple disability, has a level of unit-cost funding depending on the level of support they are considered to need. This is the cost of support. The cost of living (rent, food, utilities, clothes, recreation, etc), is from the person’s DSP, or other sources of income.
Traditional accommodation support, unit-cost, funding for each person in a group home is through “bulk-funding”, for which the person or their family, currently, has no right of access. A ball-park figure for each person is around $120,000pa.
Placement and re-location of those on “bulk-funding” is through the DHS controlled DSR (Disability Support Register). With “bulk-funding”, both the person and the service provider are under the total control of the DSR Committee.
In contrast, where a person has “Accommodation Support ISP-Funding”, they may directly seek a supported accommodation service. Whereas, a person on similar unit-cost “Accommodation Support Bulk-Funding”, the DSR select the service provider – the person has no choice of, or say in the matter. And, they are not permitted to convert their existing bulk-funding to ISP-funding.
With the Accommodation Support unit-cost funding called “bulk”, the person has to go through the DSR, with no choice of service provider. Whereas, if the similar unit-cost funding is called “ISP”, the person is free to directly seek a service provider of their choice.
If all DHS bulk-funded accommodation support unit-cost funding was directly to ISP funding, a mere name change, almost all group home residents in Victoria would have early taste of NDIS intentions - CHOICE of Service provider, rather than a despotic and restrictive practice DSR, and their residential tenancy rights blocked by section 23 of the Residential Tenancies Act - Victoria.
Tuesday, October 04 2011
Looking outwards and helping others through volunteering, rather than focusing narrowly on our own concerns, can increase our sense of purpose and meaning and improve physical and mental health. People don't necessarily volunteer because they are expecting a reward, or they think it will improve their health.
Most do it because they hope to benefit others. Some people want to gain new skills or see it as a step towards a career. Others volunteer because generosity, or charity, is part of their religious practice. For people who are regular volunteers, volunteering for its own sake becomes a strong motivator, rather than volunteering for any particular cause.
Although most won't set out to volunteer for the sake of their health, volunteers do experience greater happiness and better health. Volunteering is associated with less stress, better life adjustment, fewer feelings of hopelessness or depression, better coping, better physical health and longer life expectancy.
There are many reasons why volunteering has health benefits. It usually offers opportunities to socialise and make friends. This can be particularly important for people who are retired or elderly and at risk of physical decline, inactivity and social isolation, or of feeling unproductive.
The physical health benefits may be directly related to the type of work someone does. In Australia, a large proportion of volunteers are active in sporting clubs. They may be coaches, for example, which means increased physical and outdoor activity.
Volunteering improves a person's sense of self-worth and purpose, which may help to protect against depression. There are other rewards from volunteering, including gratitude from others and the satisfaction that comes from being able to work in accordance with one's values.
The amount of volunteer work a person does may be important for health. An American study found that the more frequently someone volunteered, the more their wellbeing increased. Going from monthly to weekly volunteering improved wellbeing to the same degree that a very substantial pay increase did.
People who volunteer report being more confident and satisfied with life. Volunteers trained to provide telephone peer support report greater self-esteem and self-confidence and reduced depression. Former alcoholics who support and mentor alcoholics attempting to give up their addiction are less likely to relapse.
People who volunteer may be happier because they develop empathic emotions. Importantly, helping others means we are less focused on ourselves.
Self-involvement can have adverse effects on health; an early study found an association between heart disease and high numbers of self-references ('I, me, my') in speech. It's been said that when we are too involved with our own worries and concerns, it's like a weight pressing down, but when we open our eyes and look outwards, the clouds part and the sun shines through.
Want to volunteer?
- Look for an organisation or a cause that you believe is important, and ideally get involved working with others.
- Find work that suits you and adds to your enjoyment of life.
- Balance your giving with a greater awareness of receiving.
- Be realistic about how much time you can commit.
- If volunteering starts to feel like a burden, is making you feel very sad about the world or critical of yourself or others, pause and think things through. While volunteers report having better mental health than non-volunteers, going beyond your limits could worsen mental health.
- If you're someone who volunteers a lot, remind yourself occasionally that you can't fix everything and you'll never be perfect, but you aredoing your best.
LISA Comment: If we are ever to break the restrictive practices against people with a disability and their families, we must stand united! We must help each other! LISA needs help in all areas!