News

Panel discusses challenges for occupational therapists under the NDIS


24 October 2013

(Back row from L-R) Lynette Mackenzie, Jennifer Duncan, Gwynnyth Llewellyn and Rachel Norris. (Middle) Kim Bulkeley and Rachael McDonald. (Front) Ann-Mason Furmage.
(Back row from L-R) Lynette Mackenzie, Jennifer Duncan, Gwynnyth Llewellyn and Rachel Norris. (Middle) Kim Bulkeley and Rachael McDonald. (Front) Ann-Mason Furmage.

As part of the Sydney Ideas series, the Faculty of Health Sciences hosted a discussion on Wednesday 23 October featuring a panel of researchers, teachers and industry practitioners who spoke about implications for occupational therapists under the newly established National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is designed to help improve disability services and provide greater control and decision making for people with a disability in Australia.

The six panelists speaking at the Law Foyer were Rachel Norris, Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn, Dr Rachael McDonald, Jennifer Duncan, Kim Bulkeley and Ann-Mason Furmage. Each panelist gave a presentation on their area of specialty followed by questions from the audience.

Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn is the Director of the Centre for Disability Research & Policy at the University of Sydney. She spoke about education, employment and health as three areas Australia is falling down on its obligations to people with a disability, "Without health, education is challenging. Without education, employment is almost non-existent. We all… aspire to economic and social participation." Professor Llewellyn referred to the new government reform as a social policy innovation and said, "the NDIS is about social and economic participation."

"I think [the NDIS] is one of the most exciting things for participants with a disability and for health professionals who want to see people they treat getting the help they need and want from the system." said Associate Professor Lynette Mackenzie, head of Occupational Therapy at Sydney University.

Launched in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania on 1 July this year, the NDIS is a fundamental change in service delivery for people with disabilities and will demand a different approach for service, especially for occupational therapists. "For occupational therapists as well as other health professionals there will be a major challenge in actually being person-centered in their practice" said A/Prof Mackenzie, "It will mean seeking out feedback from recipients of services about just how person-centered they are."

"People with a disability will have a say in their own care, and should have more control over what health professionals can help them with" say Mackenzie, "So often people with disabilities have to be content with what they are offered rather than with what they need or aspire to in their lives."