Sunday, March 21, 2010

Is the government no longer committed to NDIS?

Today, 21st March signifies just 10 days until the start of April. The consultations around NDIS (recently renamed Long-term National Disability Care and Support Scheme) are said to start then. In reality of course we have at least 11 days as surely these consultations would not be announced on the 1st of that month.

Is the government fully aware that we need a big disability voice to get through a scheme that will affect people with disabilities for 20-40 years in this country? If it is, then why is it undermining this unique opportunity for fundamental change for us by not responding to calls to making the inquiry a fully participative one, and include those issues that are vital to us?

Questions, vital to our interests, were asked of FAHCSIA, the Minister and her Parliamentary Secretary, Bill Shorten, but have gone unanswered so far. 

Hardly revolutionary stuff about the terms of reference under which we will be consulted, like:
  • Include examination of needs in an inquiry that says it's about a needs-based scheme;
  • Look at the reasons for the service system that the NDIS campaign admits as broken;
  • Look at building improved quality of service and what that quality is;
  • What is the disability model under which the inquiry will operate?;
  • Have meaningful representation of disability interests on the Panel, leading the inquiry;
  • and so on...

To date the government has excluded meaningful disability representation in those forums where the mould for the present inquiry into a national care and support scheme was cast. If no amendments  are made to the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission's inquiry by the time consultations start, we will be left responding to those questions that the government wants answered. Questions into which we had no real input.

The government has so far been unresponsive to requests it make its inquiry one that can really benefit people with disabilities. Does it only say it wants one but plays another game? Is it, in fact, in breach of parts of the UN Convention on Rights Of People With Disabilities it signed up to, at least in the way we have been excluded from meaningful representation?

Honouring disability contributions and trusting us

We need to know as we already have “writer's cramp” from contributing to frequent inquiries, for decades. Some of us must type them, one letter at a time, using hand splints, a headstick or through speech-recognition software. We drag ourselves off to consultation hearings at our considerable human and financial cost. Will the government honour our effort and trust in yet another consultation? 

Will it actually now trust the disability constituency and “allow” our genuine participation on the Panel that leads the inquiry? 

Include our vital issues in the inquiry? 

No more stage-managing of our voice?

No more negative imaging of people with disabilities in tugging at public heart strings?

Is the government no longer committed?

It would be easy for the government to support a successful strategy towards passage of a great national care and support scheme by changing the terms of reference, even now. The government's words would certainly support doing this. Such as:
"Practically what disables people is barriers which our society puts in the path of people with impairment to be able to enjoy full participation."(Bill Shorten, 2009)

Bringing us along in a fully participative way, involving those things that matter to us in this inquiry.

Precedents for doing exactly this, exist, in a very similar inquiry, at another time when people decided it was time for a really big change.

If it makes no effort to do so, in engaging with our vital concerns, then we must question its commitment to fully inform and involve all people with disabilities towards a successful outcome in a national care and support scheme that means positive and enduring change for us. Not just more money, from a different source.

Are NDIS campaign calls for a “united disability voice” just hollow?

We will know in coming days.

NDIS and the UN Convention on Rights of People With Disabilities

Check out the UN Convention here for yourself, in particular the Preamble, clauses "e", "f", "o" and "k." 

"... persons with disabilities should have the opportunity to be actively involved in decision-making processes about policies and programmes, including those directly concerning them." (UN Convention on Rights of People With Disabilities, Preamble, "o")

Surely, those framing this Convention did not intend for "active participation" to mean: " people with disabilities being consulted about questions, that are vital to their wellbeing for the next 20 years, framed for them by others, the consultancy process overseen without their real participation, and analysed by accountancy firms..."

No comments:

Post a Comment