A landmark court ruling paving the way National Disability Insurance Scheme funding to be spent on sex worker services has been welcomed by Tasmanian advocates, but the federal government has responded by issuing an ultimatum to its state counterparts.
Earlier this month, the Federal Court ruled the use of a trained sex therapist was a reasonable and necessary support that should be funded as part of the NDIS. The ruling came after a woman with multiple sclerosis was prevented from using NDIS funding to access a sex worker, despite her being unable to obtain sexual release without assistance.
Speak Out Association of Tasmania advocate Dominique Vittori applauded the court's decision.
"It's totally in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that Australia ratified in 2008," Mr Vittori said.
"Sexual expression and fulfillment is another aspect of everybody else's life and we believe it's totally reasonable and necessary for the NDIS to support that aspect of people's lives in line with the CRPD."
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Federal NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said the community would not expect taxpayer funds to be used to pay sex worker services as part of NDIS plans.
"I have written to states and territories to seek their approval to change the NDIS rules," Mr Robert advised.
"If the states and territories don't agree to amend the NDIS rules, all options will be on the table, including legislation to enshrine the change in law."
Tasmania's Disability Services Minister Jeremy Rockliff declined a request to confirm the Tasmanian government's position on the use of NDIS funds to pay for sex support services.
"Tasmania looks forward to working with the National Disability Insurance Agency and other states and territories to provide further clarity of when a support is reasonable and necessary through the NDIS Act and Rules," a government spokesperson said.
Mr Vittori was disappointed with the federal government's response to the court ruling.
"It has nothing to do with the human rights of people with disabilities to have a fulfilling life like everybody else, it is a political reaction," he said.
"Society has always seen people with disability as asexual, which is totally unfounded and people with disability have exactly the same needs and desires as everyone else."
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Mr Vittori dismissed fears an NDIS cost blowout would occur if sex work was funded and the court confirmed the statistical evidence the NDIA presented was based on a worst case scenario.
"If people are fulfilled in one aspect of their life, like with sexuality, it may decrease their need for other support," Mr Vittori said.
According to Mr Robert, NDIS participants can use other sources of income, like disability support pensions, to pay for sex worker services.
"All we are saying is taxpayer NDIS funds were never intended to be used in this way and we'll be ensuring this does not happen again," Mr Robert said.