Protecting the current level funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is essential for people who are blind or vision impaired, Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) has said as the costs of the scheme come under scrutiny.
Vision 2020 Australia has thrown its support behind recommendations made by BCA in a submission to the Productivity Commission Review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Costs.
While the scheduled review is intended to inform the final design of the scheme, it comes amid funding warnings and the terms of reference include examining “the most appropriate levers to manage any potential cost overruns”.
Carla Northam, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, says: ‘Blind Citizens Australia recognises the importance of ensuring the economic sustainability of the NDIS. However, recent rhetoric around “cost blowouts” cannot be the only consideration taken into account when evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of the scheme.’
The NDIS promises choice and control to people with disability. Its intention is to help people with disability achieve their goals, including independence, community involvement, education, employment, and health and wellbeing.
Emma Bennison, Executive Officer of Blind Citizens Australia, says: ‘Meeting the targets of the NDIS must not come at the expense of the basic rights and freedoms of people with disability. While we acknowledge the importance of ensuring the economic sustainability of the scheme, lived experiences must be taken into account. Already there are instances of the scheme failing to support blind or vision impaired people in exercising choice.’
Blind Citizens Australia fears these instances could increase and the effects worsen should any adverse changes be made to the scheme’s funding or eligibility criteria.
Vision 2020 Australia wholeheartedly supports BCA’s 17 recommendations to make the NDIS more accessible to people who are blind or vision impaired. These include:
- Providing people who are blind or vision impaired information about their rights in formats that are accessible, such as large print, Braille and audio
- Creating new positions for subject matter experts on blindness or vision impairment
- Recognising the need for episodic supports, including orientation and mobility training
- Adjusting the NDIS price guide to recognise orientation and mobility training as a core support rather than a capacity building support
‘The NDIS is the most important opportunity we have to level the playing field for all people with disabilities throughout Australia,’ says Ms Northam. ‘If the emphasis remains on cutting financial costs however, the potential people with disabilities have to contribute enormously to society in so many ways – including financially – may never be realised.’
The full submission can be read here.
The Productivity Commission Review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Costs is expected to be released in May 2017.
For more information: Adam Sawell at Vision 2020 Australia
03 9656 2020, 0401 096 507 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Vision 2020 Australia
As the national peak body for the eye health and vision care sector, Vision 2020 Australia represents over 50 member organisations involved in: local and global eye care; health promotion; low vision support; vision rehabilitation; eye research; professional assistance; and community support. Established in October 2000, Vision 2020 Australia is part of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
About Blind Citizens Australia
Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is the united voice of Australians who are blind or vision impaired. Its mission is to achieve equity and equality through empowerment, by promoting positive community attitudes, and by striving for high quality and accessible services which meet the needs of people who are blind. BCA has over 3,000 individual members covering every state and territory in Australia. For more information visit: www.bca.org.au