EDITORIAL: Cruel setback for disabled
BORDER families say they feel “left in the dark” and are upset at the prospect of missing out on access to funding under the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Their concerns follow this week’s revelation that up to 900,000 Victorians with disabilities might not qualify for the scheme if the state government does not adjust their budget to meet growing demand.
DisabilityCare Australia will help 100,000 people with a disability but a submission made to the government by National Disability Services said the scheme would not cater to those people with lower level disabilities who may need assistance.
Yasmine Keating of the disability charity Faith, Hope and Dreams Inc has a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Mrs Keating lives in Albury with her son Aaron, and other disabled people on both sides of the Border, but he accesses services in Wodonga.
“We know the government is scrambling for funds but we need the commitment from them,” she said.
“There is a lot of uncertainty and not enough information about who will even qualify.
“Each person has individual needs so I wonder how they will define a disability as low or high.”
Border parent and former rugby league player, Mike Eden, also has a son with autism.
He said the scheme was an investment in the future.
“Every dollar we spend now is money we are saving in the future,” he said.
Murray Valley Centre chief executive David Martin agreed there was a lot of uncertainty.
“People are already unsure about what’s happening,” he said.
“We don’t even know yet who would be eligible to receive it.
“When they talk about disabilities, are they talking about people with hearing and vision problems — how far are they going and what level of disability are they talking about?”
Mr Martin said if there was not enough funding to make the scheme available to all those with severe disabilities, the lives of many would remain difficult.
“I’m sure there will be some people who will still get it but it just might not be extended to what some people thought it would be,” he said.
Indi MP Cathy McGowan said the state needed to put more money into disability services.
“I agree the needs of people with disabilities are important, especially in rural areas,” she said.
“The government needs to make sure all services are accessible and I’m glad this service has raised the profile of this issue and are bringing it before the government.”
Mrs Keating said it would be a “dreadful” outcome if her son could not access the scheme.