Spinal Life Australia has launched an online campaign and petition, protesting the NDIA ruling that excludes people over 65 from accessing disability support and funding.
Spinal Life Australia is campaigning against the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) ruling that excludes Australians over 65 from accessing vital disability support funding.
Under the current scheme, Australians who become disabled after the age of 65 cannot access the life-changing funds made available through the NDIS, a decision the disability advocacy service says significantly impacts disabled people around Australia.
Under the current scheme, those who become disabled after 65 or who were over 65 when the NDIS first came to fruition in 2013 are ineligible for the service and must instead access disability support through My Aged Care, which is less specialised.
“We listened to our members, and they said that this was important, that the inequity in funding between the aged care scheme and the NDIS was a big issue for them,” said Spinal Life Australia’s executive manager of member services Ross Duncan.
“If you’re living with a serious disability, the aged care funding does not provide adequate support for people over 65.”
He says that as an example, a person living with paraplegia might receive $52,000 a year in support through My Aged Care compared with $165,600 under the NDIS, which also provides specialised support, equipment and disability-specific therapy.
“The My, Aged Care packages are totally formulaic, whereas NDIS funding is individualised.
“Since the start of this campaign, we’ve just been inundated with stories from people all across Australia about the lack of funding on people’s lives, people who missed out on support by days when the scheme first rolled out.”
Duncan adds that when the NDIS was first established in 2013, exemptions were given to avoid rulings from the Age Discrimination Act of 2004 on the basis of setting up the initial trial with a reduced category of people.
“We disagree that that was a valid reason, and we believe the government shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of age,” said Duncan.
The ‘Disability Doesn’t Discriminate’ campaign invites members of the public to sign the online petition, which sends a letter to their local MP for federal parliament, calling for age requirements for the scheme to be scrapped, acquiring over 10,000 signatures since its inception last month.
Backing the campaign is Ayr local and Spinal Injury Australia advocate, 55-year-old Scott Stidston, who at 20 years old had a motorbike accident that left him with quadriplegia.
“If you have your accident when you’re 65, you can’t go on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It’s terrible. It’s discrimination.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are. Disability is a disability. It shouldn’t matter what age you are,” he said.
Approximately 4.4 million Australians or one in five are living with a disability, half of which are over 65.
Calls for over 65s to be included as participants come amid concerns over the scheme’s sustainability, with NDIS minister Linda Reynolds publicly stating that the NDIS is tipped to cost $40.7 billion in 2024-25, $8.8 billion above estimates.
A spokesperson from the Department of Social Services said that the decision to exclude disabled Australians over 65 was made with the Productivity Commission’s recommendations when the scheme was proposed in 2012.
“The NDIS was never intended to replace services already provided through the health or aged care systems,” said the representative.
A spokesperson from the NDIA said that the scheme remains accessible to those who became disabled before reaching 65 and that they are then able to choose to stay on the scheme or switch to My Aged Care services.
“The NDIS provides Australians with permanent and significant disability with the disability-related supports they need to increase their independence and pursue their goals.
“The NDIS takes a lifetime approach, investing in people with disability early to improve their outcomes later in life.”
Connect Now: To find out more about the Disability Doesn’t Discriminate campaign, go to http://www.disabilitydoesntdiscriminate.com.au.