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    Thanks for the comprehensive update.

    I have wondered where to get information about what is happening because so much seems to be but we mostly here gripes about the overall costs. Occasionally we see anecdotes in the media about good and bad experiences.

    My neighbour has an intellectual disability and was in Sunbury for more than 30 years. She has managed with such proud independence in the community for more than 30 years now but the chronic illness which often accompanies disability is catching up with her. I don’t think the health system is all that useful to her at times. She needs it but finds it so hard to communicate exactly what is happening. There is a kind of conflict between her need and her amazing desire for independence.

    She is on the DSB, not NDIS, and is keyed into agencies and people who can help which is so important. She has a wonderful guardian who has supported her for 35 years and a good network of friends who would do anything to help her maintain independence.

    We all have deep admiration for the spirit of this woman but I think she is more fortunate than many others who are completely alone.

  2. 2

    Vern Hughes

    Most of the commentary about NDIS has come from people who know very little about disability or the transformation agenda in disability support that is known internationally as the ‘personalisation’ agenda. This agenda is largely unknown to Australian politicians, policy makers and think tanks, who by and large remain locked in a provider-centred approach to social policy and service delivery, rather than a person-centred or consumer-centred approach. Both Liberal and Labor governments are immersed in provider-centred thinking and practice.

    NDIS is an ill-conceived reform. It was designed by four bureaucrats and consultants, and then imposed without consultation by the disability sector of service providers, consultants and academics. A handful of people with disabilities and a large number of families of people with disabilities warned that the scheme was ill-conceived, costly, and highly bureaucratic, but these warnings were ignored by the disability industry and the political class. Despite having managed a dysfunctional disability system for decades, service providers and the political class adopted a ‘reform’ in which the same people responsible for the dysfunction were assigned $22bn a year to ‘fix’ it.

    NDIS is misguided because it ignores the low-key, inexpensive innovations in disability support already underway across Australia towards personalisation of disability supports. Instead of supporting and extending these innovations, it began with the creation of a brand new statutory authority and worked downwards. This is the standard model of top-down social reform in Australia. Rather than strengthening and supporting actual innovations on the ground, it began with a bureaucracy, a billion dollar budget, and a sector of pulsating vested interests. Having commenced in July 2013, NDIS to date has spent 82% of its budget on operating costs and 18% on people with disabilities.

    This is an excessively centralised, bureaucratic and costly approach to reforming disability. It was conceived by bureaucrats and consultants, and is being implemented by bureaucrats and consultants, at vast and unnecessary cost to the taxpayers.

    The political class and the political media have swallowed NDIS because they know very little about the field and fear that any critical scrutiny of it will be perceived as ‘lack of empathy for the disabled’. Political correctness is a curious and very costly phenomenon. NDIS should be the subject of critical scrutiny every bit as much as the NBN, but it is not. We have a failed and discredited political class in Australia and a weak culture of critical public debate.

    Disclosure: I am a parent of two sons in their 20s with disabilities and who are recipients of the Disability Support Pension.


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