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May 30, 2011

Talking to MPs about the NDIS – Tool Kit

Many of you have been busy signing up your friends and family to the Every Australian Counts campaign. Our goal is to make sure the Federal Government accepts the recommendations of the Productivity Commission and commits to introducing the NDIS.

Part of our strategy to win this campaign is to talk to every single Federal MP about the NDIS. We’ve put together a briefing note with facts and figures, but your story is what’s important and is what will make all the difference.

Change involves people voicing their views and making it clear to politicians what they want.  You can do this in 4 easy steps:

Step 1. Find out the name of your MP

Step 2. Contact your MP’s electorate office – write a letter or ask for a meeting

Step 3. Follow up with a phone call

Step 4. Meet with your MP

In Australia, the job of our elected Members of Parliament in the House of Representatives is to represent the interests of everyone in their electorate. They are your voice in Parliament.

We want the Federal government to introduce a fair, effective and sustainable system, one that places people with a disability and their families at the centre and gives them greater choice, control and flexibility.

To be your voice in Parliament your MP needs to know what you want. You need to tell him/her.

STEP 1 – Who’s my federal MP?

Contact your Federal Member of Parliament’s local electorate office.  Don’t know who your federal MP is?  Find out using our quick and easy tool – enter your postcode to find the name of your electorate, the name of your MP and the party s/he belongs to.

STEP 2 – Contact your MP’s electorate office

Email or write to your MP. Here is a sample letter. Your email/letter should:

  • • State that the Productivity Commission has recommended the introduction of a new, national disability system – the NDIS – to replace the existing “inefficient and inequitable” state and territory disability systems
  • • Highlight how you/your family and many others in the electorate expect the Federal Government to introduce the NDIS
  • • Explain the social and economic benefits of the NDIS, and what a difference it would make to you and your family
  • • Ask your MP for an appointment to discuss the NDIS and/or seek a written commitment from your MP that they will actively support the introduction of the NDIS.

STEP 3 – Follow-up phone call to your MP

Follow up your email/letter to your MP with a phone call. You will probably speak to the electorate officer or personal assistant.  Request a meeting to discuss the NDIS with your MP.

Mention that you may discuss this important community issue with your local paper/radio/TV. When your MP appointment is secured, make sure you get written confirmation.

STEP 4 – At your meeting with the MP

Arrive on time.

If you are a parent of a child with a disability feel free to take your child along to the meeting – but only if you feel comfortable doing so. It may be a good idea to take someone else along who can look after your child while you are talking.

Take your meeting confirmation with you.  Be prepared – take some information from the Every Australian Counts website with you.

1. Time limit – ask the MP how much time is available for discuss (eg 30 mins).

2. Introduction – “Thank you for making time to see me/us.  As supporters of the Every Australian Counts campaign, we are here because we want to see the NDIS introduced as outlined by the Productivity Commission in its recent report.

3. Tell them where they can find more information about the Productivity Commission report – http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/disability-support/draft or point them to one of our summaries from the Every Australians Counts website.

4. Explain your personal experience – your MP needs to know the effects of trying to overcome daily obstacles on you/your family’s social, financial, emotional and physical well-being.  It puts a personal perspective on the recommendations of the Productivity Commission.

5. Ask your MP to champion the NDIS – “I ask you to actively champion the NDIS, because it offers long-term social and economic benefits to everyone who lives in your electorate.”   Here are six things you can ask the MP to do to show their support:

(i). Sign up as a supporter on the Every Australian Counts website

(ii). Place the Every Australian Counts logo on your website – copies of logos and buttons can be found at www.everyaustraliancounts.com.au/resources

(iii). Write to the Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, Treasurer and Shadow Treasurer and Minister for Families Communities Housing and Indigenous Affairs and the Shadow Minister stating your strong support for the NDIS based on the views of people in their electorate

(iv). Raise the issue of the NDIS in Caucus or the Party Room and inform members of your support for the idea

(v). Give a speech or ask a question regarding the NDIS in Parliament

(vi). Inform your electorate of your support – through local media or at public events

6. Ask if you can take a photo of the MP holding the I Count sign – you can download a copy of the I count sign here.

7. Request a follow-up meeting in one month to find out what actions your MP took.

8. Offer your sincere thanks for your MP’s interest and leave a copy of our brochure or the ten reasons document from the Every Australian Counts website.

Possible questions from MPs – and some suggested answers

MP: It’s an important idea but unfortunately the nation just can’t afford the extra money  as our first priority must be to get the budget back into surplus. Then we can help people with a disability and their families.

  • • The Productivity Commission has done detailed investigation and analysis and has highlighted the economic and social benefits to the national as a whole. The NDIS will enable many more people to become employed and contribute to the economy.
  • • By providing targeted support so many more people with disabilities and family carers can become part of the workforce; this will contribute to Australia’s skill base and reduce the demand on welfare payments.
  • • More people working and paying tax will help bring the budget back into surplus faster. This means we are not “helping” people but “investing” in them – so they can participate in the productive life of our nation.
  • • Investing in people and providing targeted, appropriate and timely support will also ensure people have every opportunity to reach their full potential. This will not only dramatically improve their lives but ultimately reduce demand on the system.
  • • Of course you would understand the broad, long-term social benefits of being employed and valued.

MP: I am sure the NDIS would improve people’s lives and I would really like to help, but it would be irresponsible to introduce it too soon, not until the economy is stronger and can cope with the extra annual funding of the scheme

  • • We already spend more than $6 billion a year on disability services – but because of the poorly planned, ad hoc, crisis-driven system we have inherited the money is not meeting people’s needs or delivering the kinds of outcomes we want to see.
  • • The situation will only grow worse in the future. The number of people with a disability will increase and the number of people willing and able to provide unpaid care will decrease. Governments will be responsible for filling the gaps – and the impact on state and federal budgets will be significant. Pouring more money into this system would be like pouring money into a bucket with holes in it. We will spend more and the money will not be used effectively.
  • • The alternative is to introduce a planned, fair efficient and effective system that gives people greater choice, flexibility and control. It will enable more people with a disability and their families to participate more fully in the economy and the community. It will ensure the money is used to deliver the very best outcomes both for individuals and the national as a whole.

Handy hints

  • • Be persistent, polite and positive. Let your MP know that they have the ability to fundamentally change the lives of people with a disability and their families in their electorate by supporting the NDIS. This is their chance to make a difference.
  • • While it is important to be positive, it is also important not to sugar coat your circumstances. Explain simply and directly what the  problems facing you and your family are, and how the current system is failing you. Make it clear that issues such as this affect the way you consider your vote.
  • • Politely tell your MP that that you expect him/her to represent your views. Remember you are an important person – you live in their electorate and they are there to represent you.

Thanks for taking action so every Australian counts !

You can download a copy of the toolkit here:

MP EAC toolkit (57KB doc)
‘I Count’ sign (49KB pdf)

14 Comments

  • Wonderful! I am so excited about this. As a parent of a son with very high support needs, I will do all I can to add my support to NDIS.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you for such a straight forward and user-friendly tool kit. It isn’t that hard really is it? It just needs people to put their words into actions and do something. I’m ringing my MP today!

  • I have emailed my minister with a meeting request today

    will let you know what happens

    good luck to all

  • This guide is truly brilliant! Many thanks

  • I’ve arranged to meet with my MP at the end of this month. Thanks for the tool-kit, very straight forward but effective!

  • Thanks for the summary and possible MP questions. Tell your story and give examples because they need to hear, feel and understand what is needed.

  • Will be meeting my MP end of this month.
    As a sister and carer to my brother i am happy to do all i can.
    Thanks for the tool guide will be used.

  • The idea of the Tool Kit was great as it it sometimes hard to know how to begin. I am emailing my MP today. As the grandmother of a disabled child I know how hard just normal life can be for her family.Good luck to everyone helping to make their voices heard.

  • I have e-mailed my minister but heard nothing,my husband lost his job at wyong hospital because he had a tumor of the spine ,he was left an inconplete paraplegic and wyong hospital do not want disabled staff as “It’s not a good look “so he was told after ten years of dedicated service but nobody wants to know about it ,to sticky, we are on our own,all of us. local member Craig Thompson thanks for nothing!

  • I have mailed my local mp for a meeting request recently, hopefully will hear from him soon.
    Will keep you posted

  • This is a great guide. It’s user friendly, simple and practical. Love it. It’s also wonderful to see bipartisan support for the NDIS too! Bring more collaborative work like this on!

  • I have spoken with my MP’s office and they are ringing me back with a definite date
    Am looking forward to it! My son is a physiotherapist in a school for the Disabled; the NDIS will make an enormous difference in terms of acquiring aids and equipment. Exciting!

  • Just had a phone call from Local MP’s Office. Have a meeting with him Saturday.
    Something needs to be done for the disabled to make living easier.

  • During my Nursing training way back in the mid 60″s I was horridfied & felt so sad to see young people placed in in-appropiatre care facilities like Psychiatric hospitals. I felt at the time that suitable care facilities needed to be established for them.
    How long does it take??
    I strongly support the Disability Insurance Scheme & pray that it will be fast racked to happen!My son has cognition & sensory deficits due to a Cerebral accident., He has made a remarkable recovery and is back working, unfortunately not in his chosen profession, but at least he is having a go & re-establishing himself in the workforce.
    He is one of the many who would benefit from the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
    Keep on the Politicians backs..!!!!

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