Opinion | 22 December 2015

Open letter to SMH – ‘Primary disability sector supports NDIS, point blank’

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"I Count" - Penrith


Dear Rachel,

Thank you for bringing the NDIS to the attention of the mainstream community.

However, it is a shame that you have chosen to place a negative spin on the most important social change in Australia’s history. No wonder the government is able to portray us as burdens on the Australian taxpayer.

I am proud to be an Australian with a disability, who works in the disability sector, alongside other Australians with disabilities and their families and disability service providers. I’m not sure who you spoke to, but we all agree, the NDIS is a great thing, which is transforming the lives of marginalised Australians.

Is it hard work during the implementation? Sure. Do we have issues with the pricing? Sure. Have there been teething problems? Sure.

But surely that is the idea of having a “trial”.

I travel around Victoria, speaking to a variety of groups, both within the sector and the mainstream community. I facilitate forums and sit on panels where we bring together all the players, including service providers, participants and their families, and the overwhelming response is positive. There is a sense of relief that at last the focus is right and life is starting to change. In the words of one person, “before I was existing, now I am living”.

I know that Ken Baker fights with us to ensure that we have the best implementation possible, and I know that he would not be talking the scheme down. I know that he believes that the NDIS is the right direction for Australia’s economic future, as well as the right social justice approach.

I would love to know which service providers were talking negatively about the scheme. Could it be those who would be happy to keep control  of the money and access to services through block funding? Who would be happy to see Australians with disabilities herded into day programs, or into sheltered work doing work at legalised slave wage rates?

I suspect that the recalcitrant “service” providers are afraid that the transference of “choice and control” to Australians with disabilities and their families will end their privileged provider status, as we vote with our feet.

To have a real perspective of the NDIS, can I suggest you speak to Australians with disabilities and their families whose lives have been transformed by taking part in the trial?

To get a perspective of the economic benefits to Australia of the NDIS, read the Price Waterhouse Cooper analysis of the Productivity Commission Report into Long Term Disability Care.

The disability sector is united, Australians with disabilities, our families and the sector all agree. We must not lose the NDIS.

We fought long and hard for the NDIS, we marched in the street, we spoke at public rallies, and we are prepared to do it again.

We cannot continue to deny the full citizenship rights of Australians with disabilities.

I’d be happy to discuss this with you. I have cc’d this to some service providers who have worked alongside Australians with disabilities and our families to help us shed the shackles of an outdated system, which kept Australians with disabilities and our families subservient.

Tricia Malowney

This letter is republished with permission from the author.

Read the full article from Rachel Browne here.

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