HEART-RENDING cases of Far Northerners affected by disability were heard in Parliament today when Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch spoke on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012.
“The current system of support for people with a disability is definitely broken,” Mr Entsch told the House.
“We need a new system of support, a system that puts the individual and their needs at the centre in charge, and able to pick the supports, aids, equipment and choose service providers of their choice.”
Mr Entsch took the opportunity to highlight personal stories and comments from some of the many people who have contacted him over the last year; from those who are disabled themselves, to family members, to those who work in support services.
These included the recent Order of Australia Medal winner Colleen Dolan, who has been recognised for her more than 40 years’ work on behalf of Far North Queensland’s disabled community.
A second was Kylie Allen, a young mum from Cairns; of her three children, two have special needs. Mr Entsch read to parliament a letter she had written, saying;
“The NDIS means that the financial strain will be lifted from our family and more importantly that my children can receive the health care and support they need, and to lead a happy, quality life just like their non-affected peers.”
Vernon Lewis was diagnosed with MS in 1989 but that has not stopped him playing a valuable and active role in the community. “I need the NDIS to provide the assurance that the support I need, will be available when I need it most. Please make this something other than a political football.”
Edge Hill resident Cindy Eagle has a particularly tragic story; her nephew was born 12 years ago and as a newborn suffered blood clots to his brain. He is severely disabled, cannot walk or talk and still has to wear nappies.
“(Cindy) tells me that her sister has had to sell their house, they have lost their super fund and they have moved rental homes 14 times in the last 10 years trying to get somewhere suitable,” Mr Entsch told Parliament. “In 12 years they have not had a holiday or even gone to the movies together. They love their son… but they have lost their lives and are under immense stress, pressure and physical exhaustion.”
Mr Entsch also read messages from Katherine Kramer, who is a full time carer for her brother; Jacqueline Black, an occupational therapist from Freshwater; Maree Cotton, who works for a disability employment service; and Shane Yule, a youth worker for disabled children.
Mr Entsch said that no one would dispute the justification for establishing the NDIS, but cautioned that “at the end of the day, this is an insurance policy and it needs to be properly funded”.
He called on the government to outline how it will fund the NDIS, especially given that Labor has committed only a quarter of what is needed for the first phase.
“We cannot raise expectations for these desperate people unless we are absolutely able to deliver these services,” he said.
“It may well be that we need to incrementally introduce it to make it affordable.
“That is why the Coalition has proposed a bipartisan parliamentary committee so that support for the scheme does not waiver across the three terms of parliament, and nine different governments, needed to make this system work.”