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Valuing all Australians

IN which country can a child expect to wait more than two years for a wheelchair? Australia.

As Australia moves towards developing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), UnitingCare Community is urging advocates to find the courage to question the assumptions that underpin the NDIS as a reform.

Valmae Rose, UnitingCare Community NDIS readiness project manager, says people should ask what research questions and evaluation frameworks are being used by the national design teams.

"We can engage our own communities around conversations that inform the work, whilst looking into our own organisations and communities and being willing to let go of organisational structures, policies and practices that won't serve us or the people we serve in the future under an NDIS."

As part of the National Disability Strategy, the Australian Government commissioned an inquiry into a long-term care and support scheme for people living with disability.

Following this inquiry, in August 2011 the Prime Minister endorsed the implementation of the NDIS.

Essentially the aim of the NDIS is to provide a new model of disability support which will replace the existing funding arrangements.

With increasing numbers of Australians with disability, the disability support system faces pressures on several fronts.

Ms Rose emphasises that there is important work to do and that it cannot be achieved alone.

"This must be inclusive of every person in every place, in every role, in every part of the organisation and in the communities in which we operate.

"This needs to be done with time and space for people to recognise that the invitation to contribute is real, and time for people to think and talk, then to make sense of the ideas that emerge.

"The work we are doing in the NDIS readiness project is about just that; raising awareness of what's ahead with the NDIS, and asking good questions."

According to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, governments around Australia make a major contribution to supporting people with disability.

However, there is still a significant level of unmet demand for disability services within Australia.

Consequently, this impacts greatly upon the lives of people with disability, their families and their carers.

UnitingCare Community says that no matter how well the NDIS is designed, it will be unable to solve all of the current issues surrounding disability support, nor will it reach every single person who needs support within the country.

For more information visit everyaustraliancounts.com.au.

Sources: Disability support service users in Queensland from 2005–06 to 2010–11 data comes from aihw.gov.au/publicationdetail/? id=10737422881

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data comes from fahcsia. gov.au/our-responsibilities/disabilityand- carers/program-services/ government-international/inquiryinto- a-national-disability-long-termcare- and-support-scheme