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The need for the NDIS

It is hard to believe that in a democratic country as wealthy as Australia that people with a disability and their families are still left to struggle alone every day. Most Australians assume that if people are born with a disability or acquire one later in life, that some system, somewhere, will take care of them.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In Australia, disability support is a lottery. People receive different levels of support depending on how, when and where their disability was acquired.

People count themselves “lucky” when their disability is the result of a car accident in the “right” State, where they are entitled to support. In the “wrong” State, they are entitled to nothing, no matter how much their disability expenses skyrocket.

There is no entitlement to support if you acquired your disability at home (injury, accident, illness). And there is no private insurance to cover the costs incurred of a baby being born with a severe disability.

No matter how severe the level of disability, people with a disability, their families and carers struggle daily for support and services that meet their basic needs.

The current system fails to deliver essential services, leaving exhausted, impoverished families to fill the huge gap, sometimes for as long as 50 years.

  • Children grow up with damaged spines, hips and pelvises because they don’t receive the wheelchairs and therapy they need as they grow – and need rounds of painful corrective surgery.
  • Adults are unable to leave their homes because they receive funding for pay for support for only two showers per week, and only two meals per day.
  • Children and adults are denied the opportunity to communicate every day with their family, friends and teachers, because there is no money in the system to supply the IT equipment or skills they need to communicate.
  • People with intellectual disability are frozen out of paid employment, even though they have the skills to work, due to lack of simple, cost-effective supports.

The disability systems in every State and Territory have been failing for decades. The situation will only grow worse in the future, and cost taxpayers more. As the population ages, the number of people with a disability will increase. At the same time, the number of unpaid carers – family members and friends – willing and able to provide support will decrease.

It is therefore time to take stock and plan for the future.

A National Disability Insurance Scheme represents a fundamental reform to the way services are funded and delivered. It is a social reform on the scale of the introduction of Medicare and compulsory superannuation – two safety nets now taken for granted by every Australian.

Disability won’t happen to everyone but it could happen to anyone, anytime. All Australians deserve the peace of mind that would come with knowing that support will be there if they need it. And we all benefit from a more inclusive, more diverse community.

But this scheme will not become a reality unless there is broad-based community support. Take action today and get involved in the campaign to make sure Every Australian Counts.

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