News

Community forum on revolutionary reform to disability services


2 April 2012

Close to 100 local residents attended a community forum on the National Disability Insurance Scheme at the University of Sydney last week. Hosted by the federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek and the Every Australian Counts Campaign, the forum included a panel of experts from the University who spoke on the importance of the proposed scheme.

In opening the Minister acknowledged that finding care - the right kind at the time you need it - has been too hard for too long. She agreed that Australia is coming from a long way behind and that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) would need to be as robust as Medicare and be centered on choice.

"The country as a whole will benefit from unlocking the potential of people with disabilities and their carers," said Minister Plibersek.

The panel of experts included:

  • Daniel Kyriacou, State Campaign Coordinator, 'Every Australian Counts' campaign
  • Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum AO, Sydney Law School
    Professor Richard Madden, Professor of Health Statistics, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Professor Roger Stancliffe, Professor of Intellectual Disability, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • and Ella Alexander with a student's perspective on disability reform

As Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Professor McCallum spoke of the appalling under employment of people with disabilities in Australia and championed the need for appropriate education, health and care to allow people with disabilities to actively contribute to the workforce.

Professor Richard Madden referred to the NDIS as "one of those windows that opens only once in a generation and must be seized."

He made the argument that the funding of the scheme is manageable if the 5.9 percent real growth rate in disability expenditure over the past 10 years by all governments is maintained, and advocated for a shared Commonwealth / State funding model.

He also questioned the need for a separate National Injury Insurance Scheme when the NDIS is to be a universal scheme.

Professor Roger Stancliffe's presentation focused on the importance of ensuring that the NDIS was providing people with disabilities the services they want and need.

"To ensure high quality, Australia needs a national system to monitor outcomes experienced by service users - we need to know if people are enjoying quality of life and are able to fully participate in the community - at present we have no way to assess this although it is being done effectively in other countries."

Students' Representative Council Disabilities Officer Ella Alexander highlighted the inequities of current systems where people with similar needs can receive very different levels of support, or none if fault cannot be established.

The panel was followed by audience Q&A which fleshed out many of the public's concerns and ideas in moving forward with the implementation of this important reform.
For more information about the National Disability Insurance Scheme visit http://everyaustraliancounts.com.au/

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Media enquiries: Katie Szittner, 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809, katie.szittner@sydney.edu.au