Ministers, please fight for those who need the NDIS

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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THE NDIS

Ministers, please fight for those who need the NDIS

To all state and territory ministers who are responsible for disability services. I have a grandson who is severely autistic with extremely limited language skills and who also suffers with an intellectual disability. He is completely dependent on the care of his mother. He is in his final year at a special school and there is no prospect of him being capable of meaningful employment or independent living in the future.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (The Age, 9/7), as envisaged by the Gillard government, was meant to provide the essential support for those, like my grandson, who require lifelong assistance to meet their needs to live a dignified life. My concern is that the proposed changes by the federal government will result in serious reductions in medical and physical support for those who need it most.

More government oversight of the way private providers charge for services is needed but blanket changes that will have a negative impact on the disabled appears to be what the federal government is planning. This has raised fear and concern for those who require care and their carers.

The community is well aware of the misuse of taxpayer funds in a range of areas, including services offered through the NDIS. However, the government does not need to limit funding or the care offered. Instead it, and NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds, need to take greater responsibility for delivering the services through proper oversight of private providers.
Máire Mills, Glen Iris

Examine scheme in terms of cost-effectiveness

The government refuses to listen to those with a lived experience of the NDIS. The focus on independent assessment to cut costs and streamline is failing to address the efficiency measures required to prevent the current overspending.

Meeting goals requires a team. These are support workers, allied health professionals, suppliers of aids and equipment and other services. It was anticipated this network would respond to the changing demands of the marketplace, and move from an historically inadequate system to one that is responsive and competitive, providing choice and quality.

Sadly, this has not happened. It is chaotic, expensive, under-skilled and continues to contravene the rights of the customer or consumer. Lack of experience, poor professional practices, over-charging and no accountability, combined with an NDIS that pays up no matter what, further compounds the problems.

The National Disability Insurance Agency is clear that it does not engage with the relationship between recipients and providers. (“Choose another” is the advice). There are no refunds from providers when they fail, with many providers and suppliers being paid in advance.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission responds to complaints of abuse and violence. It has no limit on how long this might take. Complaints about poor practice by allied health professionals are not addressed, with the commission saying you need to complain to their professional, or other, bodies. My daughter’s complaint of February is still being investigated. Consequently, as she suffers the NDIS is paying a second time for the same goods and services. We apologise to all taxpayers.
Jenny Harrison, Footscray

Funding cuts and loss of individualised plans

Proposed changes to the NDIS include the phrase “independent assessment” which evokes transparency. However, when applied to funding people with disability, it is shrouded in Orwellian speak. The draft amendment bill changes funding allocation and the individual’s therapists and medical specialists will no longer play a role.

With so many experts, disability organisations and families, and specialists like Muriel Cummins (Opinion, 8/7) critiquing these changes, it is incomprehensible that Linda Reynolds claims they are fair and equitable. The aim of the “independent assessment” is to reduce funding and reject individualised plans which have been established by the person with disability, their family and their team of medical specialists for the next step.
Marcellene D’Menzie, Clifton Hill

THE FORUM

Underquoting is rife

Well done, Rosemary Jamonts, for advertising the reserve price of vendors’ properties the second they are listed for auction (The Age, 9/7). I hope other real estate agents follow your lead but I am not optimistic.

Underquoting is exploding down here in Geelong and especially on the coast. I have heard from reliable sources that a recent coastal sale went for $1million above its quoted price. How is that even possible? I could imagine, perhaps, $70,000 or even $100,000 above a price but one million? Come on.
David Jeffery, East Geelong

A matter of parking

Re “Capp in push to get public service back in the office” (The Age, 8/7). But how will the lord mayor attract people back to restaurants, theatres, cinemas and cafes if the parking spaces are removed to make way for bicycle paths? Not everyone rides a bike to the city, particularly if they are going to the theatre, the cinema or a restaurant.
Carlos de Lemos, Hawthorn East

Please clean up our city

To the lord mayor and VicRoads regarding revitalising the city. On Thursday I parked the car at a Park and Ride and took the bus along the Eastern Freeway, Hoddle Street and Victoria Parade into the city. How disappointing that the only bright spot in my day were the flowers outside the town hall. As I traipsed around, I was saddened to see that the buildings and shopfronts were dirty and grimy.

The freeway, roads and gutters were so full of litter, I felt saddened to think that we have such little regard for the impact of it on our natural environment. The graffiti that was everywhere added to my despair about what was once “Marvellous Melbourne”. A clean city would certainly be more welcoming to returning workers and shoppers.
Julie Nixon, Doncaster

Bring them to safety

There are at least 1000 Afghans left who helped Australian troops (The Age, 8/7) and are in imminent danger of revenge by the Taliban. Meanwhile, our bureaucrats sit at their comfortable desks making sure that all boxes are ticked and credentials triple checked. For the sake of our humanity and credibility, bring them all here. There may be a few fraudsters among them. So what? A drop in the Australian fraudster ocean.
Ralph Bohmer, St Kilda West

NSW, the favourite child

Scott Morrison shows us again that Victorians do not matter to him. James Merlino had to demand many times for assistance for our last lockdown, and something was given with strings attached. However, for “gold standard” Gladys Berejiklian and Morrison’s home state of NSW, help was quickly offered with no strings attached. Also, he made no negative comments about the lockdown.
Raelee Hunter, Keilor Downs

Voters never forget

The Prime Minister for NSW continues to give the golden treatment to his golden girl, Gladys Berejiklian, the moment her state needs Commonwealth help. Victoria will remember.
Eric Kopp, Flinders

Extend common sense

Scott Morrison says “common sense will prevail” as he overrules the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s ban on free beers for vaccinated customers. Will he now support common sense in returning the Murugappan family to their home in Queensland?
Keith Fletcher, South Melbourne

A firm no to alcohol

Clearly Scott Morrison is not aware that one of Australia’s biggest problems is addiction to alcohol, which contributes to major social problems like domestic violence, crime and poor mental health. Alcohol should never be given as a reward or incentive for any behaviour.
Wendy Moyle, Flemington

Protecting the animals

As philosopher Charles Magel said, “Ask experimenters why they use animals and they say animals are like us. Ask them whether it is morally OK to use animals and they say animals are not like us”. We cannot have it both ways. The closure of the Animal Resources Centre, Australia’s largest supplier of lab rodents (The Age, 9/7), provides an opportunity to further develop the latest scientific testing techniques that do not rely on cruelty to animals.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

Cross-party support

At the last federal election, polling booth fences were smothered in sheets of plastic, political slogans. Could the federal Parliament pass a law, when it next sits, which prohibits such material on all polling booths? The environment will be grateful, as will we, who care about Planet Earth.
Jill Bryant, Malvern East

Towards greater equality

Timothy Habben (Letters, 9/7) says parents are “absolutely entitled to have a minuscule amount of these taxes [they paid] returned to their child’s [private] school to help fund its operations”. However, it is not about who pays for what, rather the sort of society we want.

Do we want equality of opportunity or extreme privilege which puts the needs of students above the “big bucks” culture of marketing and wealth? While most government schools receive inadequate funding, some of the most exclusive benefit disproportionately from government largesse, resulting in one of the most unequal education systems in the Western world.
Bryan Long, Balwyn

A question of numbers

Actually, Timothy Habben, the more students attending private schools, the worse for children in state schools, as state schools’ funding is based on the number of students.
Marianne Robinson, Churchill

Why we went private

Linelle Gibson (Letters, 9/7), the first three of my five children went to government schools in socio-economic areas much different to Williamstown and we were far from happy about how the schools operated and the education, moral and social guidance our children received.

When we moved to Geelong, we were lucky enough to find ourselves in a financial position (yes, with some sacrifices) that enabled us to send the last two to a private school. It was a terrific experience for both of them in every aspect. I only wish I had been able to do the same for the first three children.
David Parker, Geelong West

A player of many sides

Re “Understanding our Nick” (Letters, 9/7). When you watch Nick Kyrgios play tennis, you will be laughing at his antics, amazed by his fascinating skill, amused or upset by his verbal attacks on the umpire, yet again. You will then be calmed by his friendly smile and the warm greeting he gives to his opponent whether he has won or lost – and with Nick, it could be either.
Mary Lane, Mornington

Our true golden girl

Australians all let us rejoice. We share Ashleigh Barty’s delight, honour her humility and wish her well for the Wimbledon final.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton

Aiming for beauty

Nicholas Reece’s article (Opinion, 6/7) filled me with optimism. Who could disagree that “average is no longer good enough when it comes to architecture, design and urban amenity in Melbourne”? As we emerge from COVID-19, my wish is for other inner-city councils to follow the lead of the City of Melbourne which supports a new Design Excellence Program. We have a unique opportunity to review what contributes to Melbourne’s liveability rather than remain at the mercy of developers.
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North

You must be kidding

Congratulations to The Age. You have finally achieved the impossible, and made DA’s cryptic crossword more inaccessible. As if they were not difficult enough already, those of us who did it online yesterday had to switch back and forth between the grid in the app and the one in the daily paper. C’mon!
Mick Hamilton, Carnegie

Take a bow, Mr Pavlidis

Jim Pavlidis’ “The Rollout” cartoon (Letters, 9/7). Cartoon of the year. Brilliant.
Terry Earle, Brighton

AND ANOTHER THING

Coronavirus

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

As NSW seems to have ScoMo as its PM, could Victoria have Dan as our PM?
Jane Taylor, Newport

NSW desperately needs Dan to suppress the virus, whilst Victoria could use Gladys to get support from the feds.
Roger East, Balwyn North

Oh dear Gladys, best you call Dan straight away for advice.
Julie Perry, Highton

I trust that Frydenberg and Hunt have given advice to Berejiklian in these difficult times.
William Hines, Mornington

It was lucky we had “Dictator Dan”.
Antonia Hamilton, Sandringham

Victorians are urged to stay away from NSW. Wow, this really hurts.
Ross Barker, Lakes Entrance

Evidently we take the health advice until it comes in the way of getting a free beer.
Michael Cowan, Wheelers Hill

NSW has its very own “Hazzard”.
Philip Bull, Ivanhoe

Unlike federal ministers, Berejiklian has learnt the hard way that the virus doesn’t play political favourites
Denis Evans, Coburg

Victoria

It’s time the casino and GP went out together. For us, it would be a win-win.
Elizabeth Grieb, Port Melbourne

Coonan has run her race. She should resign from Crown and let someone else take her place. Preferably not a retired MP.
Benny Browne, Prahran

Roll on F1 strike three and let’s save Victorian taxpayers millions.
Bryan Lewis, St Helena

Politics

An upside of having Morrison as Prime Minister is that more people know the meaning of “obfuscation”.
Fiona Thomson, Blackburn

Penny, Tanya, Kristina, and maybe you can encourage Julia to come across as well. What a team and point of difference to vote for.
Geoff Pope, Knoxfield

Why ask politicians questions? They either don’t answer, or answer a question that wasn’t asked.
Ron Mather, Melbourne

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