Monday, March 1, 2010

NDIS and social participation

NDIS is about 'social and economic participation.'  But it behaves like a parent (mmm) who tells their children not to smoke, while smoking themselves. If you are to be trusted your words must match your actions right? Some people call that model coherency. People with disabilities have been Shut Out from developing the NDIS proposal about which we will now get 'our say.' And we continue to be Shut Out. Read on...

The NDIS 'debate' among those who have disability in their lives has been high-jacked and managed by the powerful vested interests of governments - getting us off Treasury's balance sheets as liabilities; more money for many poor-quality 'services', peak bodies and so on.

In part it has been hi-jacked and managed by others because they can! Where is the (capacity for) analysis, communicating, influencing and just plain speaking out among disability groups? Not all their fault either of course. The nature of disability provides various barriers to participation by individuals in social activism. It is not for everyone. And Governments of all shades do not support strong, independent voices and leadership development. They naturally stand in the way of it. But there is no excuse for publicly-funded bodies putting their names to an NDIS without any analysis or questioning. Of course they could start doing so, even now, if they chose to do so.

Take the 'National Disability Summit' . Never heard of it until someone mentioned it by chance on a discussion list. It discusses "Funding & Support For Disability Services" (ie NDIS). It is dominated by government and service provider interests. The list of "Leading Experts” (speakers) is swamped with them. Three possible exceptions. The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations has two speaker slots (one by virtue of listing one of its associates as a "person with a disability.") And poor Physical Disability Australia has been stuck in a panel in the last half hour, when everyone is rushing to catch their planes. Not listening!

All this in an expensive setting (The Rydges Hotel, 'smart business attire' is recommended', and 'bring your business cards'), cost of conference $990 plus your airfares. Does that exclude anyone important you think? Anyone feel 'Shut Out'? Is NDIS demonstrably a genuinely participative exercise where the interests of people with disability are internalised by all parties? Perhaps not? Then how can it be trusted to develop into a funding mechanism that will truly improve our lives?

Does anyone feel insulted by this exclusionary process where so much of a future NDIS is being proposed in our name?

Here is a 2004 article which is even more spot on now, than it was then, 6 years ago

Where is the social unrest among people with disabilities and their organisations?

Erik Leipoldt

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