27 Jul 2012
Maree's comments have also been backed by many of the country's 400,000 disabled and their carers who say they have seen their pleas and submissions, promises and inquiries strangled by politics.
According to the Carers Alliance they have been totally let down by the Federal Government when all they want is a fair go - something that has been promised for years.
The proposed trials, discussed with the Prime Minister and Premiers this week, involving 10,000 people with severe dependent disabilities are set to begin in July 2013. They would be expanded to include 10,000 severely disabled the following year. The idea of the trials is to refine the scheme prior to full implementation in 2018 which would provide individual supportive care to the 400,000 severely disabled Australians and their carers.
But instead of 10,000 of those with severe disabilities taking part in the initial trials, the Government has decided to allow South Australia to trial the scheme using children with disabilities aged seven and under, even though children are not part of the NDIS and would not be eligible to be part of the scheme until they reached adolescence and adulthood.
Meantime the Government also decided to accept Tasmania for the trials despite the state limiting the trial to just 1,000 young people aged between 15 and 24 years of age. This also follows Tasmania being originally rejected for the trials and the NSW-Victoria model being the only model to have met the original criteria for NDIS launch sites by capturing a significant number of disabled clients and all age groups and backgrounds.
"A third place the trial is set to take place is the ACT where the sample of those with severe dependent disabilities will be far too small to be representative," Maree says.
She points out the whole purpose of the trials was to get data from a strong representative sample of Australia's severely disabled to ensure when the NDIS was implemented nationally any problems would have been identified and services to be delivered streamlined with any duplication of costs between states and the government prevented.
"But this isn't what has happened," she says and describes the Prime Minister's decision to go ahead with the non-representative trials as a meaningless publicity stunt.
Maree says she was also disheartened this morning to discover that earlier this week at a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) dinner with the Prime Minister all the states were in agreement not only of the need for an National Disability Insurance Scheme, but that the scheme should be funded by a national levy, much as the Medicare levy is applied or the way last year's flood levy was introduced.
But according to reports, this was knocked back the following day by the Prime Minister who claimed introducing a levy would leave the way open for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to accuse the Government of yet another "big new tax." Instead she insisted states co-fund the trials.
The Prime Minister has not given any details as to how the $15 billion per year scheme would ultimately be funded once it was operational in 2018-19.
"I am also concerned the Government plans to set up yet another large bureaucracy to administer the scheme," Maree says.
On Wednesday this week, PM Julia Gillard admitted of the $1 billion put aside in the May budget for the NDIS, $650 million would go towards infrastructure with just $350 billion spent on the front line and the disabled men and women chosen for the trials.
The scheme is designed to provide tailored individual support and with each state already having systems in place for assessments and disabled services, all that is needed is to streamline what is already there rather than build a vast new department in Canberra, she says.
But she is adamant that if the scheme does go ahead, funding must be administered from Canberra to ensure continuity and surety.
"If ultimately it is decided to fund the NDIS through a levy it is also important that the money is quarantined for disabilities and not put into general revenue to be used in ways by whichever Government is in power," she warns.
Maree and many other carers of those with dependent disabilities, are disappointed at the latest politicking by both sides over the proposed NDIS.
While the Government did not consult with the Coalition when designing the proposed NDIS, Maree is convinced if the Coalition if elected next year, the NDIS will become a reality.
The response from the Leader of the Opposition however has not only been a personal letter from Tony Abbott but most recently one where he said that the NDIS was too important to be partisan and should be implemented not by one specific government but by both sides of Parliament as both will be involved with implementing the scheme over the next 20 or 40 years.
The Opposition leader said today the NDIS is a national reform designed to ensure people with serious disabilities is a fair go and needs "a bi-partisan approach to take the politics out of it".
The stalemate between NSW-Victoria and the Federal Government seems to have hardened with the states unwilling to sign off on the trial agreement until further discussions with the Federal Minister, Jenny Macklin and the Minister not agreeing to a meeting until the states sign off over a launch suite trial for 15,000 disabled people in the Hunter Valley of NSW and the Barwon district in Victoria.
"Looks like we've all been seriously conned by a government playing wedge politics against cash-strapped states who don't toe the party line.
"The NDIS is a fair-go scheme. It would benefit all Australians and put us in the vanguard of disability service provision. But it has now been twisted and pummelled into a political football.
"It is simply unconscionable to play mean and tricky politics with the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are severely disabled and depend on help and support each and every day.
"The Gillard government made the promise to introduce the NDIS then without any collaboration or consultation set about watering it down to be barely recognizable and then demands the states pay for it," she said.
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY