A disabled man standing up from wheelchair at sunset. Positive concept of cure, recovery, medical miracle, hope, insurance etc.

Completion of the NDIS, taking care of the over 65s, addressing basic toilet facilities and adequate funding are just some of the issues that need urgent attention in the disability sector as the country heads to a Federal Election.

Minister for Social Services, Paul Fletcher told F2L he would like to see the completion of the NDIS so that it delivers on its promise to people with disability, their families, carers and all Australians. “I want it to work within an inclusive system with all other mainstream services such as health and education. This will enable people with disability to be fully included in the social and economic life of our community, through the provision of safe, accessible and quality services.”

With all the disability reform that have been underway for the past few years, coinciding with the rollout of the NDIS, the one cohort severely disadvantaged by this has been those over the age of 65. “The government must now contend with the aged care sector and all of its inherent problems which has not been appropriately structured for anyone with a significant disability,” was the view put forward by Spinal Cord Injuries Australia policy & advocacy manager, Tony Jones.

This cohort is severely disadvantaged by comparison to those covered under the NDIS, he said. “In a nutshell My Aged Care maximum funding is capped at under $50,000 (level 4 Home Care Package). This amount must include all personal care, domestic assistance and assistive technology (AT) equipment such as wheelchairs, hoist, bed, commode and pressure relieving mattress and cushion and is manifestly inappropriate for the level of need. There is also a co-payment element to My Aged Care, which is dependent on means testing and income but there is no such requirement for NDIS participants.”

Jones said a way to address this would be an additional supplementary payment, in recognition of the level of disability, over and above the level 4 Home Care Package, and ongoing access to state based funding equipment schemes, such as Enable NSW, covering payment and ongoing maintenance for all AT requirements.

The Disability Trust chief operating officer, Edward Birt, told F2L: “It would make my day to see the Federal Government providing assurances to people with disability that they will have the resources they need to access supports to prevent them falling between the gaps that are emerging between state and territory government departments and the limits of the NDIS.  The government must work through COAG to ensure people with disability are not disadvantaged and all state and territory government departments (of health, education, transport, care and protection, criminal justice etc) understand their shared obligations to support people with disability in Australia.”

Physical Disability Council of NSW, executive officer, Serena Ovens wants a commitment to a serious deadline for inclusive public transport, in particular by bringing the aviation industry in line with inclusive processes. “Time and again airlines fail people with disabilities, from refusing transport, to inadequate and demeaning processes for travel, from boarding/off- loading to taking little to no responsibility for personal mobility equipment, often worth thousands, which can leave a person immobile for weeks to months while it is being repaired or replaced,” she said.

“As new aircraft are designed, including universal design, facilities that allow for people with disability to more readily access inflight requirements such as accessible toilets, bars, etc. After all we can put bars, bedrooms, lounges and areas to meet in plans, why can’t we address basic toilet facilities?”

Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes called for: A wide ranging Royal Commission with adequate funding and a majority of Commissioners with ‘lived’ experience of disability.”

University of Sydney Professor of Intellectual Disability, Roger Stancliffe said his personal wish was for the next Federal Government to take effective action to improve the health of people with intellectual disability. “I support the proposal being put forward by the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability and other disability organisations.”