Let’s talk about the NDIS

Work continues on ensuring that significant functional vision impairment and blindness are represented in the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).The Low Vision and Rehabilitation Committee (LVRC) met on 5 September 2012 and endorsed the committee’s proposed Advocacy Platform and Action Plan. Guest speaker, Senator Mitch Fifield, Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector, commented on the Coalition’s intention, should it win government, to establish a Joint Parliamentary Committee to oversee implementation of the proposed NDIS. Members of the Low Vision and Rehabilitation Committee have written a letter to Senator Fifield supporting the concept of a Joint Parliamentary Committee.

Over the last few weeks a number of steps have been taken. These include the establishment of a working group led by Graeme Craig, National Manager Community Services, Vision Australia, to develop a series of case studies segmented by age and service. The working group has also developed a sector response on behalf of the LVRC, incorporating these case studies, to the proposed eligibility criteria statement. The response was submitted on 28 September 2012 and will be distributed to key personnel such as the NDIS Select Council, NDIS Advisory Groups, Premiers/Chief Ministers and Opposition Leaders, government representatives and other key stakeholders.

The LVRC has also written to the Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Disability Reform, seeking a roundtable discussion to consider the submission in further detail. Vision 2020 Australia also met with the NDIS Design and Engagement Manager from FaHCSIA to explain the complexity of the low vision sector and how this will translate to the tiered structure of the proposed NDIS. The NDIS Design and Engagement Manager was also provided with a copy of the submission.

Another exciting advocacy initiative is the development of the National Assessment Tools Project to advance an assessment framework for the NDIS. A working group led by Graeme White CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, has been established to influence this project. The project team, will research and evaluate existing national and international needs assessment tools, and propose an approach to developing the framework. It will be managed by senior government representatives from Victoria and Queensland on behalf of the NDIS Select Council. Vision 2020 Australia has also been in contact with the Victorian NDIS Taskforce and has informed the Victorian Minister for Health and Ageing about its intent to engage in this process.

NDIS advocacy will continue to be a focus at the next LVRC meeting on 6 December 2012. Internally, Vision 2020 Australia hosted a DisibiliTEA event for staff to raise awareness about the implications of an NDIS for those who are blind or have low vision.