- the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
I think we all knew that the cost of the NDIS was going to blow out - now up to around $60bn a year. It cannot go on that way.
I strongly support the idea of a NDIS. The cost of having a disability or having a family member with a disability can be enormous. It can have a massive financial impact on an entire family. There are people who need help and who should be able to access it.
There are also others who are playing the system. That has to stop.
There is a family not far from here who have a profoundly disabled child. So far they have received almost no help from the NDIS. They bought the specially designed wheelchair themselves. The mother does not go to work because she could be called to the school at any moment - and while all the Covid restrictions were in place she was at home alone caring for the child. The father is incredibly supportive but you can see the strain. The other two children have gone without all sorts of things considered "normal" because the money needs to go towards caring for their siblings. They are great kids but it is getting harder for them too. The older one will be able to work part time next year. "I guess I can get a job at the supermarket or something. It might help a bit."
The cost of the wheelchair alone was enormous. They need a wheelchair accessible vehicle too. The child's food has to be specially prepared and much more. It is all very expensive. This is the sort of situation the NDIS is designed to help.
Another family has a child who is partially sighted. She needs special aids at school in order to be able to cope but she is falling behind because the aids needs upgrading and the teacher aide is often called on to deal with a very disruptive child in another class. The family has borrowed money in order to pay for equipment she needs. They are struggling to pay the loan back and pay the rent.
A friend's granddaughter is turning four shortly. She has had almost no interaction with other children because of Covid19 issues. This child also has life-threatening allergies and a communication disability which, if treated now, will be a much smaller impediment when she starts school. She needs speech therapy but her family will need to pay for it privately if she is to get any.
These are families who need help. They cannot get it from the NDIS.
There are other families I know who are accessing help. It is "nice" that they are able to get it but I wonder how they managed to get it. One family has a child said to be "on the autism spectrum". From my own observations as well as reports from the school and from others who know the family this child is a child in need of firm discipline. He knows exactly how much he can get away with and how to get what he wants. He has just had a new i-pad (the third) from the NDIS. His "disability" is so mild that people feel it should be handled quite differently.
Another has a daughter who is refusing to go to school. She was home-schooled during the Covid lock downs. Her parents have now accessed hours of home tuition for her at a speed which has astounded everyone. There is no physical reason for her not to attend school, indeed the psychologist has said it would be better if she did.
I could go on. I know adults who desperately need more help, some who could work if they got that little bit of extra help. It's the sort of thing the NDIS was intended to do.
The whole idea needs an overhaul. I know that there would be fury at some losing the assistance they are getting but if it cut the costs there so that others got the help they really need then it needs to be done. We have to stop the "squeaky wheels" getting assistance they don't really need and giving it to those who do need it. If someone can actually do a day's work if they get assistance for an hour in the morning then they should get that help.
We closed the special schools and the institutions on the grounds that people would be better integrated into the community. The reality is that it looked like being the cheaper option. What it seems to have done is allow a different group, a group which may not need the level of assistance they are accessing, to rort the system. That is wrong.