Monday, March 1, 2010

Questions about NDIS you can ask

If the department FAHCSIA and Productivity Commission would answer the following questions, we might be a bit further down a path of clarity about why NDIS is the way it is. I have asked them of a department spokesperson who popped his head up in a discussion list, but still waiting. Here are questions you can ask:

1) Why does NDIS , not in its Disability Investment Group report, nor in its campaign, nor in the Productivity Commission's feasibility study terms of reference, mention that quality and values of disability services must be examined alongside providing more money? And how is that in the interest of people with disability?

2) How is it in the interest of people with disabilities, or even just of 'efficiency' and 'effectiveness', not to define disability (medical?, economic? social attitudes?) in the terms of reference or DIG report that they are based on?

3) How is it in the interest of people with disabilities not to define, in the terms of reference, nor in DIG report, what needs people have that the scheme will address? Just saying 'social and economic participation' does not cover all relevant needs, such as that for safety and protection.

4) How is it in the interest of people with disabilities for advocacy development and its funding not being part of NDIS terms of reference or DIG report?

5) A prominent NDIS spokesperson is on record as stating that NDIS has a view of disability as a "risk and insurance issue." Does the Productivity Commission's inquiry likewise take this as its starting point? If so, how is disability, being primarily viewed as a risk, and burden by extension, in the interest of people with disabilities? If not what is the values base that the Productivity Commission adopts?

6) The same prominent NDIS spokesperson is on record as allowing carers an 'age-appropriate' approach to their role, where caring would be more within 'normal' family caring roles and they can go to work. So paid carers would take over. By the same dysfunctional service system where no attention to quality care is mandatory. Can the Productivity Commission's inquiry confirm this as part of its aims for NDIS?

7) How can a future NDIS be trusted to deliver even 'social and economic participation', where its own process to this point has been closely held to the chests of a select group of predominantly government bureaucracy, bankers, business people, and competition policy experts?

8) Wide consultation in framing DIG report and PC terms of reference is not evident. Consequently the parameters for the feasibility study have been set. How is this in the best interests of people with disability? And why were they not more fully included?.

9) By its charter, track record and name, the Productivity Commission's feasibility study is based on an economic look at life. However, people with disabilities must live a full life to flourish, not just as a consumer, service user or worker. The NDIS campaign and DIG panel have been dominated with interests that could be expected to 'sit well' with that value framework. How is this market/industry ideology applied to better lives for people with disabilities in that group's interest?

10) Does the department or inquiry believe that funding is value-free?

11) The NDIS campaign has incorporated unfortunate portrayal of people with disabilities as burdens.How is that in the interest of people with disabilities and will the department disassociate itself from that approach?

12) The interests of people with disabilities and that of government, service providers and carers are conflated in all NDIS material, including in the terms of reference. Yet they also conflict and people with disabilities have the least power to influence this process or end-goal. Will the department or inquiry consider making these interests explicit and ensure that the power balance is shifted towards the primary interest group: people with disabilities?

13) Will the department even now seek incorporate into the Feasibility study's terms of reference statements that:

  • clarify the values and view of the nature of disability underlying this study;

  • what the needs are that are to met;

  • resolve to consult genuinely from now on and in creative formats that may engage most interested people with disabilities and carers;

  • add into the terms of reference inquiry into all the reasons why the service system is 'dysfunctional?' 

  • Add into the inquiry into quality of service, development and funding of strong safeguards to protect the wellbeing of people with disabilities

  • add into the terms of reference explicit requirements for examining the best, independent, participatory review and evaluation mechanisms for NDIS itself

  • clearly set out whose interests are served by NDIS, and in what way
    14) There is no analysis of the causes for 'the services system's dysfunctionality, as NDIS campaigners remind us ad nauseum. The explicit assumption is, that it is 'lack of resources' – Money – that is the cause. If there is an analysis of ALL the causes, including deficiencies in quality of services, can the department please make it public? If this has not been done, why not, and how is this in the best interests of people with disabilities?
Of course this is not an exhaustive list of questions, but they are key.

Why not ask your local member of parliament for the answers? Or add more burning questions via a comment on this blog?

Erik Leipoldt

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