AFI met with ACT Disability Minister Emma Davidson MLA – Member for Murrumbidgee this morning ahead of today’s meeting with the NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds and the State and Territory Ministers for disability. We reiterated our concern about the proposed NDIS reform and thanked the minister for standing by us and fighting for the voices of people with disability to be heard.
As a Disabled People’s Organisation, Advocacy for Inclusion speaks with the authority of lived experience and extensive experience supporting and advocating for the rights of people with disability in the ACT. We thank the minister for standing with us today.
People with disability, their families, supporters, and representative organisations in the ACT oppose the introduction of reforms which are designed to fundamentally alter the original intent of the NDIS.
We do not know all the details because they have not been shared openly with us. For months we have been drip fed leaks and announcements of new initiatives designed behind closed doors which will impact the lives of people with disability and our community.
We are already feeling the impacts of changes to the NDIS as proposed changes are progressing even without receiving legislative backing. People involved in the scheme have lost trust and faith in the NDIA, and the lack of transparency or meaningful engagement has left people feeling insecure and fearful.
We are scared of the direction in which the NDIS is being driven. The proposed changes will not fix issues in the NDIS, they will only bring additional challenges and disadvantages.
We do not want to see people with disability being repeatedly tested, challenged and endlessly having to prove that they are deserving of support. We don’t want to see parents and carers having to repeatedly highlight what their children and loved ones can’t do in comparison to others. We don’t want to see people with disability reduced to categories of need, subjected to continuing trials of unproven assessment tools, and living with the insecurity that the essential supports they rely on could be reduced or removed at critical life stages. We don’t want to see essential supports rationed.
People with disabilities are individuals, with individual goals and differing support requirements. The NDIS is supposed to be a world-leading initiative, providing individualised support to enable people with disability to meet their personal goals and to live with independence and dignity. For many, access to essential daily support that meets their needs has been life-changing. What we have achieved under the NDIS is worth protecting. Individualised support is worth fighting for and we need to protect the NDIS from harmful and fundamentally flawed reforms. Reducing support will not reduce need.
We must safeguard what works well, and work together to find effective solutions to challenges, and improve experiences for all NDIS participants. People with disabilities cannot be left out of the conversation and ignored. To be effective and appropriate, changes to the NDIS must be co-designed with people with disabilities.
We are grateful that in the ACT, our Disability Minister has strongly stood by us. Minister Davidson has listened and responded to the community. She has continuously called for co-design and maintaining choice and control within the NDIS. We thank Minister Davidson for her ongoing strong support and hope that today the other State and Territory Ministers will be willing to stand with us and the people they represent and not support proposed reforms to the NDIS, but urge Minister Reynolds to engage in actual co-design with people with disability.
Today, we ask Minister Reynolds to listen to the voices of people with disability and our representatives.