Light shines during DisabiliTEA

“EVERY Australian Counts” was the resounding message of advocates and affected families at the DisabiliTEA.

Tuesday’s event was designed to raise awareness about the need for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The findings of a long-term study on disability support were handed to the Federal Government on July 31 stating that the current system is “inequitable, under funded, fragmented and inefficient”.

The Productivity Commission inquiry found the present structure “gives people with a disability little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports”.

Local families, representatives from relevant agencies and Federal Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker who attended the DisabiliTEA all agreed on major problems with how the system operates at the moment.

They were a lack of funding (an additional $6 billion would be channelled to the sector under the proposed scheme), fragmented funding systems (the NDIS would centralise and co-ordinate grant and funding distribution), unequal access to support services (currently determined by certain disability criteria) and lack of flexibility with fund use (the NDIS emphasises self-management).

David Stevens’ daughter Deisha has a rare syndrome and he is familiar with the current support system’s shortfalls and the way many fall through the cracks.

“The NDIS would double funding to the system, cut waiting times, allow for self-management by families and be more equal for people living with a disability,” Mr Stevens said.

“Not only that but the NDIS would provide reassurance for Deisha later in life.”

For Emma Hoad who has Spina bifida, the NDIS’s emphasis on self-management would be instrumental in creating independence and raising self-esteem.”

The need for more services and security has been recognised and implementing the NDIS would mean people with a disability can lead a normal life rather than having to fight for everything,” Ms Hoad said.

“It would mean choice and independence, with self-management having a positive impact on self-esteem.”

Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker said the NDIS would mean a greater commitment to the disability sector.

“The proposed scheme would streamline delivery of services and replace what is currently a fragmented system,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“The aim of the Every Australian Counts campaign is to get 100, 000 signatures of support to highlight the importance of implementing a more efficient system.”

If accepted by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, reforms would begin in 2014 and extend to the entire country in 2015.

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