NDIS causes loss of taxi subsidy card

Despite assurances the NDIS would not disadvantage people living with disability, there is concern that is exactly what is happening as those signing up lose their taxi subsidies. 

People living with disabilities have previously had access to a state government-provided taxi subsidy card that gives them half-price fares. This is being replaced by the NDIS.

The NDIS has a section for transport, but there is concern this will not be adequate and those living with disabilities will be left to cover the shortfall. 

“There seems to be an expectation by the state government NDIS will adequately cover these things, but in reality it doesn’t look like that's the case and then there’s nowhere for anyone to go,” Tasmanian Disability Education Reform Lobby founder Kristen Desmond said. 

Lisa Riley is mother to two teenagers, Connor and Alex, who both have severe Autism. 

“Connor catches a taxi to school everyday, because of his inability he won’t travel on the bus with his brother,” Ms Riley said. 

While Connor does have a transport section in his NDIS plan, Ms Riley said it will not cover all his transport needs. Ms Riley is concerned her boys, and other people living with disabilities, will be disadvantaged when they lose the cards. 

“The whole point of this was so that it wouldn't see anyone disadvantaged … removing this taxi card is going to disadvantage people, the NDIS will not cover all the transport that the card will cover,” she said. 

Ms Desmond would like to see people able to access a taxi card when their NDIS transport allocation runs out. She has raised her concerns with the state government.

“Essentially the response that I got back was there is a process that needs to be used, they need to go to NDIS to have their travel reviewed and it should be ok. Well, the reality is Lisa did that and it's not ok,” she said. 

Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said he was aware of the concerns and was working with the National Disability Insurance Agency through the transition.

“NDIA will be responsible for providing funding to people with a disability to access support they need to take part in everyday activities – including funding to assist with taxi fares,” he said. 

“All of the funding associated with the Transport Access Scheme taxi subsidy is being transferred to the NDIA.”