A BRISBANE mother whose son has a physical disability has spoken of her “absolute delight” at the recent Queensland Government decision to sign up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Fiona Anderson, also state co-ordinator of the national NDIS campaign Every Australian Counts, said the State Government decision meant her 17-year-old son Sandy “now has a future”.
Sandy, who attends St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe, presented a certificate of thanks to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Premier Campbell Newman on the day Queensland signed up to the NDIS.
The certificate was signed by people with disabilities and their families.
Brisbane archdiocesan disability and inclusion ministry development officer Deacon Anthony Gooley also welcomed the decision.
He suggested Catholics should become advocates for people with a disability in their parishes to ensure government support for the scheme continued.
Dr Gooley also welcomed bipartisan political support for the NDIS “which means it is no longer a Labor or Coalition issue”.
Ms Anderson said the NDIS, once fully implemented, would give people with a disability choice over services provided and allocation of funds provided in such basic areas as medical equipment.
“Many Queenslanders would not realise the significance of the decision,” she said.
“They will not understand how bad the situation has been for those of us with family members with a disability.
“The new arrangement will mean about 45,000 people who weren’t getting support will now do so.
“The State Government expects about 100,000 will receive assistance.”
Ms Anderson and husband Richard Porter, who also have a daughter Caitlin, have been forced to mortgage their home “several times” over the years as they supported their son.
Superannuation has been used to fund house modifications and their parents sold retirement investments.
“Our family has been no different from most families in this situation,” Ms Anderson said.
“Because of this inflexible bureaucratic system, we have been constantly struggling to find money to support our son for nearly 17 years.
“The whole system has conspired to make us spend money we don’t have.
“It’s been a vicious circle – for example both of us couldn’t work to find extra money because Sandy needed a carer.”
Queensland’s arm of the DisabilityCare (NDIS) scheme will be funded almost 50:50 with the Federal Government.
The State Government’s signature to the NDIS came after months of negotiating with the Federal Government for an acceptable funding arrangement.
The Queensland Government will contribute $2.03 billion to the scheme by 2018-19 while the Commonwealth will pay for $2.14 billion.
Dr Gooley cautioned that “a fully functioning NDIS was still some way off”.
“So there is still a need for people to be aware of the issues and to encourage the development of the best possible scheme for Australia,” he said.
“Catholic parishes have a great opportunity to walk in solidarity with people with disabilities and their families.
“Parishes should try to find out who has a disability in the parish or who are parents and carers of a person with a disability.
“When we hear their story we might be in a better position to advocate for NDIS.
“Often times the parents and carers are already busy with struggles with government and disability support agencies and can be drained of energy on many fronts as well as having to care for a person with disability.
“It would be great to see parishioners shouldering the burden of advocacy and acting in solidarity with people with disabilities.
“It is a core part of our Catholic mission.”