The NDIS will be excellent for those who fit its criteria, but we fear there are gaps and the gaps will widen as the scheme is implemented.
Our experience at TADTas (a volunteer organisation that provides technical aids to a wide range of people with disabilities) has highlighted potential gaps in the NDIS model. We design and make (free of charge) aids that are not available commercially.
The people we see across Tasmania cannot wait while state and Commonwealth decides who will pay for the services and equipment they need.
We have been informed that after June 2019, TADTas will lose its state government funding.
The people we predict will be at risk of falling through gaps in NDIS funding of equipment and therapy services are children with mild disabilities who require intensive early intervention therapies or the elderly and frail who cannot lift hot and heavy saucepans and who are not designated disabled.
As the scheme unfolds we hear more about the people who are not eligible to be participants, and more about just how isolated they will be when the scheme is fully established.
And, the Tasmanian government support that is currently available directly to people with disabilities is scheduled to stop on 30 June 2019, when the NDIS will reach full implementation in Tasmania.
This means that a number of services, currently government funded, will be in danger of closing down.
TADTas cannot survive without some form of core funding. It is our policy to offer our technical skills to anyone who can benefit from them.
All our products are provided at minimal cost due to the volunteer labour component and the very real assistance we receive from some of our sympathetic suppliers.
A far as we can ascertain, little or no thought has been given to the many people around Australia who will be disenfranchised by this process – people with less severe disabilities who will nevertheless still need assistance and support.
TADTas undertakes 70 projects each year for people ranging in age from infants to the frail aged.
We are a registered charity with a number of highly skilled and motivated technical volunteers, a professional Board and support from the community.
Many of the aids we design and manufacture require considerable research and investigation before a safe and effective solution is found.
In all our work we maintain a close relationship with health professionals and scientific expertise. It is difficult to be precise about numbers.
One support agency, which has provided services for people with disabilities over many years, estimates that 60 per cent of their current clients will be ineligible for NDIS participation.
This doesn’t mean a need is no longer there. Indeed, therapists inform us that people with lesser disabilities benefit hugely from early intervention that will prevent their condition deteriorating.
A couple of years ago our volunteers made an aid for an older woman to enable her to move a hot heavy saucepan from her stove to her sink.
She claimed at the time that this would enable her to keep living independently for another 12 months, probably saving the community the $40,000 that governments currently provide us every year.
- Paul Duncombe, TADTas executive officer