NEWCASTLE man Peter Bisset hit the nail on the head when he said disability is about perception, not injury or illness (NDIS could have done more Letters 3/1).
I couldn’t agree more.
And what better way to challenge this broader perception than to support people with disability to participate in education, employment and their community. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is doing exactly that.
Already, in the 18 months since NDIS trial sites opened around Australia, more than 10,000 people with disability and their families have individualised NDIS support plans in place. These plans are tailored to each person’s unique goals and aspirations and, for the first time for many, give them the chance to live a life they choose.
They are entering or re-entering the workforce, becoming independent to the best of their abilities, and receiving the support and equipment they need. They are also challenging perceptions – the broader community’s and sometimes their own ideas of what they are capable of.
Where possible, scheme participants are linked to informal or mainstream supports to help them move towards their individual goals.
The idea behind this is to encourage community integration rather than the segregated disability enclaves of previous support systems.
We want to offer opportunities outside the traditional disability space by giving participants unprecedented flexibility and control over their supports and encouraging innovative and new supports among service providers.
The NDIS is a work in progress and there are many lessons to be learnt – I am the first to say that – but the results to date will be pleasing to those with an interest in social equality and building a stronger economy. Most importantly, participant satisfaction in the scheme is high at 95per cent.
The Hunter trial site is higher still, recording a participant satisfaction rating of 99per cent.
Of course, the biggest social policy change in 30 years is not without significant challenges.
The NDIS is being rolled out in trial sites to incorporate feedback and lessons learnt into full-scheme design. We want – and need – feedback from those at the heart of the scheme, people with disability.
This is our chance to work together to create the best NDIS possible – for people with disability and their families, and the Australian economy.
Mr Bisset, I was pleased to hear your neighbours have had positive experiences with the NDIS and hope you will choose to give it a go too.
Our Hunter trial site staff would be all too happy to meet with you.
We need the input of people like you – people who are passionate about improving the lives of people with disability and are willing to share their ideas, experiences, feedback and local expertise.
This is our chance to make a difference and create a new way of supporting people with disability that we can be truly proud of.
David Bowen is chief executive of the National Disability Insurance Agency