A national disability insurance scheme
Some people with disabilities have all their care and equipment paid for. Other people do not get enough help. This is not fair. A new insurance system would make sure that everybody gets the help that they need. Many people are asking the Australian Government to introduce an insurance system as soon as they can.
Posted by: George Taleporos, on 01/12/09
People with the same disability can get different support
Have you ever noticed that some people with disabilities cruise around in the latest wheelchairs, have the most high-tech aids at their disposal and enough attendant care hours to actually have a life? Meanwhile, others seem to constantly struggle just to get a little support.
My article Squeaky wheels stresses the importance of being a strong self advocate. Being able to speak loudly and clearly about your needs is essential for anyone to secure their share of the limited disability support dollars.
But the unfortunate truth is that in Australia today, some people with disabilities are covered by insurance, while others are left to depend on government services.
Shop around for a disability
When shopping around for a disability, you need to go for one that will be compensated. A road or a workplace accident will do, or if you really want to live in style, have someone really wealthy cause your disability through a negligent act. Genetic diseases, neurological impairments and unfortunate accidents where no one is to blame should be avoided at all costs.
The reality for people with disabilities in this country is that people with the same level of impairment have very different levels of support available to them simply because of how or where they acquired their impairment. You don't need a doctorate in social policy to understand that such a system is flawed and in desperate need of change to address the inequity.
A tale of two women
Consider these two women with quadriplegia:
Maria acquired a disability as a result of a tumor on her spinal cord. When it was time for her to be discharged from hospital, she could not return to her home because it was inaccessible. There was also insufficient support provided for her to live independently. She was forced to live in a nursing home and remains on a waiting list for accessible housing and a support package that is adequate to meet her needs. According to her case manager, such packages are rare.
Jenny acquired her disability as a result of a car accident.She was drink-driving and over the legal limit. After her accident, she was provided with a comprehensive rehabilitation program that assisted her to regain function. She also received a significant individual support package that not only purchased enough attendant support hours to meet her needs but also provided funding for transport, recreation and holidays. Her home and vehicle were modified for wheelchair access including environmental controls that were triggered through her state-of-the-art motorised wheelchair. She was provided with case management and training to assist her to return to work.
Jenny, like other people injured in a road accident or at work, is protected by an insurance scheme that provides funding to cover her disability support needs.Maria, on the other hand, is dependent on a system where demand for services exceeds the funding available. It is also predicted that the demand for support is about to increase dramatically. People with disabilities are living longer and unpaid carers from the
Baby Boomer generation are ageing.
A national disability insurance scheme
In response to the inequity and the growing need for more support, some people with a disability are calling on the Federal Government to introduce a national disability insurance scheme. The scheme was one of the
big ideas to emerge from the Prime Minister’s 2020 Summit in April 2008.
Under the scheme, all Australians who are born with a disability or acquire a disability before the age of 65 would be provided:
- support services
- aids and equipment
- home modifications
- access to the community
- education and training.
Disability support would no longer be held back by waiting lists. Instead it would be an entitlement for all, like Medicare, superannuation and the baby bonus.
Support for such a scheme is growing. And it is not just among people with disabilities, but also among the wider community, who are beginning to understand that disability can affect anyone at any time. With the promise from the current Labor government to develop and implement a national disability strategy, let us hope that the scheme will come to fruition and the ridiculous inequities that currently exist will finally be addressed.
The Federal Government has asked the Productivity Commission to investigate the feasibility of new approaches for funding and delivering long-term disability care and support.
will examine the feasibility, costs and benefits of replacing the current system of disability services with a new approach which provides long-term essential care and support for people with severe or profound disabilities however acquired. The inquiry will include consideration of whether a no-fault social insurance approach to disability is appropriate and would fit with Australia’s health, aged care, income support and injury insurance systems.
A panel will be appointed shortly and the Productivity Commission will report to the Federal Government in July 2011.
The Productivity Commission has released their report into Disability Care and Support. It is available on the Productivity Commission website (opens new window).
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