Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
9 May 2012
The $1 billion announced in last night's Budget to begin setting up an NDIS will be spread over four years with 10,000 of those with disabilities given support under the scheme in the first year, increasing to 20,000 the following year.
But as Mary Lou points out, not only is this a tiny fraction of the 410,000 Australians who need support and help under the scheme, but the amount set aside in the Budget amounts to just $250 million a year, far less than the Productivity Commission's recommendation of $600 million to cover just the first 12 months of the scheme. Under the Commission's recommendation, this figure would then rise over the following six years to a target of $6.8 billion, estimated to be the amount needed annually for the full implementation of the scheme.
The figure of $6.8 billion need each year would be in addition to the $7 billion spent currently b y state and federal governments on disability resources and support.
For the past 21 years, Mary Lou has cared for her son who is severely intellectually disabled, easily disturbed and made anxious and in need of round the clock care.
The lack of resources, the mine field of bureaucratic paperwork needed to access any type of support as well as meeting and talking with others who were also caring for those with severe disabilities and facing the same problems, led to the creation of the Carers' Alliance in 2007.
"We realised we needed a political voice to try to bring about change," she says. But instead of any real change, she says the disabled and their carers have been fobbed off with pittances, platitudes and political gamesmanship.
The Catholic Church, its parishes and agencies such as CatholicCare, along with other church groups, have lead the way on issues involving people with disabilities, she says. But she has no time for politicians and their promises.
The Carers Alliance also takes issue with how the Federal Government did not consult with the States in any detail on how the NDIS would be funded and what percentage they would agree to pay.
As announced in last night's Budget, the $1 billion over four years allocated to starting an NDIS will go towards setting up four "launch sites," yet to be decided, along with a National Disability Launch Agency to run these sites as well as funding for the building and design of an NDIS information technology system. And that is before one disability payment is made.
"Additional money and support is always welcome to give people with disabilities the opportunity to be the best they can be. However, the Carers Alliance does not see this current proposal as moving forward towards any 'great Labor reform," she says. "If anything we see this as a 'great Labor retreat.' The reality is the Gillard Government has squibbed," she says and accuses the Prime Minister and her government of lacking courage for real reform for real people in real need.