Apart from reviewing occasionally for The Ember (rather too occasionally, as I've become a bit prone to pick my reviews to pieces before submitting), I've been keeping an eye on the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme since I last wrote about it here. Well, things are hotting up in that area, and I have decided now is a good time to blast this closed blog open very briefly to bring you up to date with this once in a lifetime opportunity to reform disability services in this country.
Here's a summary I drew up to send to family and friends recently, and a few suggestions for yourself following, if you're drawn to read that far.
I hope you will be - this is really starting to grow into something to talk about. But first, the news so far:
Last year the Productivity Commission began an inquiry into the feasibility of an NDIS and received over 600 submissions from families and organisations. A draft report was published in April and a full report will be made public by the Government in November.
Discussion forums and a nationwide conference have been held since early 2011 to increase people's understanding of the reforms, and you will find information on this on the NDIS website.
I'll save you a little time by highlighting two:
1.the one that impresses us the most is the recommendation that the Commonwealth take over responsibility for disability funding in the future. The double layer (sometimes even more layers in service provision) of Government is one of the biggest moneysuckers from disability funding in this wide brown land of ours, and this reform would hopefully bring Government money closer to the people it's supposed to help.
2. This recommendation ties into the first: the Productivity Commission does not recommend that a Medicare-style levy be introduced, but that real Govt funding be increased by States handing over their current disability budgets and the Fed Govt committing to real guaranteed increases in future. Hopefully this lessens the possibility that this reform can be dismissed or killed off in the Parliament as one more tax.
Two other external factors that are exciting:
1. a whopping great number of disability organisations have banded together, put their differences aside and are supporting this, because they know enough is enough, and that people with disabilities and their families are suffering too much. For a list, see here
2. there appears to be quite solid bipartisan support across political parties for the reforms - one of the reasons the Productivity Commission was asked to conduct an inquiry in the first place. There seems to be general agreement, even in the media, that the system is broken and that things cannot continue as they are.
Now, dear reader of surprise guerrilla postings on closed blogs, if this news captures your imagination,
(kind of unofficially, this...!!): if you are a GetUp supporter and would like to send some votes our way, add your voice to those requesting support at GetUp, where the NDIS is currently under review as a cause to support.
My family thanks you for reading this and showing an interest in our future, which seemed precarious until these reforms became a strong possibility. Tell me I'm dreaming. Will this really happen?? I'm just daring to start hoping that it might.
I didn't write much about my son on this blog in the past, I know - but he is 26, he loves having us to himself whenever he can get us, and he is starting to put two words together on an irregular basis. (Two of them being 'driving faster'!)
For someone who started saying no at eighteen, that's progress of its kind. He suffers from irritable bowel about one week out of every four, and has adjusted with no complaints to a fructose diet and gluten free foods recently. He enjoys tidying (I don't lose pens or scissors any more, they get put back in a stand immediately they hit the table), lining things up, brushing leaves off park benches all year round, would watch Thomas for an hour if we let him, and became quite annoyed recently when a pathology nurse failed to draw a blood sample from him - he's a results guy.
I can't quite believe yet that this campaign may, in five years or a little more, deliver one of the major results we need, in the form of a home for him with full time carers who can continue to help him grow and learn through his adult life.
It's so close I can smell it, even at five years distance.
It has put the spring back in my step, and should be putting a spring in the step of everyone in the country who knows someone with a disability. It's going to be amazing. So let's make it happen, yes.