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Tag Archives: National Disability Insurance Scheme

NDIS red-tape leaves vulnerable Victorians in abusive homes

Media release from the Office of the Public Advocate

Vulnerable Victorians living in disability accommodation remain in abusive situations for months due to NDIS bureaucracy.

This was a key finding the Community Visitors Annual Report, tabled in State Parliament today.

Nearly half of all serious incidents in disability group homes reported by the visitors each year relate to violence between co-residents, with 133 notifications being made this year to the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC). [p. 19]

Public Advocate and chair of the Community Visitor boards, Colleen Pearce, said that despite the number of recent inquiries into violence against people with disability, co-resident violence had received “little practical attention.”

The visitors report [p. 22] that one female resident suffered traumatic abuse from another but had been unable to move to another group home for at least five months, despite the support of her legal advocate and the DSC.

NDIS participants require their plans to be reviewed to move from one group home to another, even if the funding is the same. As well, an occupational therapist’s assessment is needed, however, NDIA pre-approval is needed first which involves a lengthy wait then a ten-week wait before the assessment and, only then, can a plan review be scheduled, which generally takes months.

In this case, the assessment was rescheduled several times from February because the NDIS delegate or the resident’s lawyer were unavailable.

Dr Pearce said that resident-on-resident violence and abuse in group homes was not uncommon.

“There are multiple instances where residents have expressed to Community Visitors how fearful they are in their own homes, and how they often choose to stay in their own rooms rather than interact in shared living spaces.”

Other issues identified include inappropriate environment for residents, lack of continuity of staffing and use of restrictive interventions.

This year, 266 volunteer Community Visitors made 2952 visits to 1148 units across the state, identifying 3806 new issues.

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The case for keeping Julia Gillard

“So why am I the last columnist to give them a fighting chance? Well, Julia Gillard has never been given a fair go” (Robert Macklin).

This post has been reproduced with the kind permission of journalist and author, Robert Macklin from his article The case for keeping Julia.

It seems I’m the only columnist left in Australia who thinks Julia Gillard and her excellent government have a reasonable chance of winning the September 14 election.

Call me quixotic if you like, but I just can’t believe that my fellow Australians would toss out a government that has done us such sterling service for an opposition led by Tony Abbott who threatens to undo so much of what we’ve achieved these last five years; and who wants to set us on a path to “austerity” that has done such appalling damage in Europe and the US.

Consider the Government’s achievements: it acted swiftly to save us from recession during the world’s financial and economic meltdown. But just as important, it resisted cutting the Budget to shreds when revenue fell, despite the immense political pressure to do so.

It transformed our schools and our schooling, thus setting us up for the future and giving our children the best possible start in life. It invested massively in tertiary education, including trades, to meet the needs of a growing and changing economy.

It created the National Disability Insurance Scheme from nothing. It raised the pension to a decent level. It introduced paid parental leave. It invested in roads, ports and other infrastructure that was holding us back because Howard ignored it. It improved relations with China while maintaining a strong US commitment. Indeed, in foreign affairs it didn’t put a foot wrong.

It fixed the Murray-Darling river system. It put a price on carbon that will lead to a transformation of our energy generation. It is building the NBN that will transform for the better the way we live and work.

And it did all this as a minority government in the face of obdurate resistance and schoolyard bullying from Tony Abbott. It tried desperately to stem the flow of boat people, but was blocked at every turn by an Opposition that revelled in the political mileage gained from it.

So why am I the last columnist to give them a fighting chance? Well, Julia Gillard has never been given a fair go. People still resent the way she made it to The Lodge after his party rejected Kevin Rudd. Had she been a man, it would have been a political coup and that’s that, but a woman couldn’t be forgiven.

The Murdoch press, and the miners, have vilified Labor for their own vested interests. Sadly, their campaign has set the tone for other media outlets. But that could only be effective in a political landscape where something fundamental has changed in the communication business.

That’s summed up this week in a memorable phrase from “New York Times” columnist Frank Bruni: “The sideshow swallows the substance”.

Policies are ignored. Instead, the “news” is all about fripperies, trivia and the seven-second grab. If you doubt it, aside from the gold-plated parental leave scheme – and slashing at least 12,000 public servant jobs – try to think of a single Abbott plan for Australia.

Oh, that’s right: “Stop the boats”.

Robert Macklin.

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An Open Letter to Bernie Brookes

Dear Bernie Brookes,

I’m sure you can guess why I’m writing you this letter. You’ve no doubt had many similar complaints this week surrounding your comments about the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the effect this policy will have on Myer consumer spending. So here’s another one to add to the pile. Even if you don’t have time to read it, please do me the favour of handing it around your mates, fellow CEOs of big companies who think they’re entitled to an opinion about political policy. These words are for all of you.

First off, let me just say that I am a very grateful person. I am grateful that I live in a society where a brand like Myer exists. But I don’t wake up in the morning and curse that Myer isn’t open yet. I, like all other Australians, don’t need Myer. We don’t rely on Myer providing us with products. This is because nothing your store provides could ever, in anyone’s warped sense of reality constitute a ‘necessity’. Necessities, things needed to live, for lucky Australians like me, include shelter, food, water and healthcare. Everything else is lifestyle. That’s what your store sells isn’t it? Lifestyle choices. As an Australian, I get to enjoy a whole raft of lifestyle choices, Myer being one of them. I get to enjoy so much more than just bare necessities, and that’s why I’m so grateful.

I am also grateful that my life has not been touched by the difficulties of disability. Yet, if I was to find in my future that, for instance, I had a child with a disability, I don’t think my first concern would be that this child might cost me more money, and reduce the amount of cash that I could spend at Myer. Thousands of Australians have been looking after themselves or loved ones who have a disability, buying all the expensive healthcare and equipment needed to give them a life that’s nowhere near as privileged as most of your customers, without the government offering them the support that it has always been able to afford. Hence why Gillard’s Labor Government has introduced the National Disability Insurance scheme. But rather than applaud this social policy, you whinge to your investment banker crowd that the policy is going to hurt your shareholders. How pathetic a human being you are. When I think of your shareholders, somehow I don’t manage to conjure the sort of pity that I have for people who are prisoners in their home due to a disability, or for their carers who have been by their sides their entire lives. Giving up trips to Myer. Giving up everything for their loved one.

It’s clear that you have a predictable view of government spending on social welfare. You don’t like it. You don’t seem to think the government can afford to do anything. Although I didn’t hear you complaining when Rudd’s Labor government stimulated the economy during the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis by giving your consumers money to spend in your stores. Are you grateful at all for that Bernie? That this country didn’t plunge into recession like the US and most of Europe?

When you found your statements about the NDIS had made their way out of your investment banker echo-chamber and into the general populace (your consumers) and you realised your words might affect your shareholders’ income, you issued the most cowardly format for an apology – a press release. And in this release, you stuck by your criticism of the funding model for the NDIS – a minor increase in the Medicare Levy. You said you would prefer the NDIS was funded using ‘existing revenue streams’. Well thanks Bernie. Thanks for this insightful advice. Have you not heard that government revenue isn’t doing so well lately? You are constantly complaining that your retail sector isn’t performing well but do you ever put two and two together? While you and your CEO mates might find the economic conditions difficult, might it also be so that government taxation revenue is also dropping due to large companies like your own not contributing as much in tax revenue? Or is the government meant to be responsible for this as well? Last time I checked, Australia is doing incredibly well economically compared to other developed nations – would you prefer to run a group of department stores in Greece? And while you and your mates are constantly backing Tony Abbott’s catch-phrase that the government MUST be in surplus, how do you expect that government to afford the NDIS, which you now seem to agree we need, without an increase in taxation? What’s this magic pudding you seem to know about that the government doesn’t? Please enlighten us.

Speaking of your buddy Tony Abbott, what are your thoughts on his plans to fund his inequitable-middle-and-upper-class-welfare-election-bribe paid parental leave with a 1.5% increase in the company tax rate? Myer will be paying that I would think. I totally understand big business. I know the cost of this tax increase will be passed onto Myer consumers. Aren’t you concerned that if you charge us more for your lifestyle choices, we might not be able to afford as many lifestyle choices? Or we might give up on your lifestyle choices altogether? Heard of the internet? I’ve only got a rudimentary understanding of economics and supply and demand, but that’s how it works doesn’t it? Prices go up, demand goes down. I would personally agree with you if you were to come out and criticize Abbott’s paid maternity leave policy. I don’t want your prices to go up so Abbott can ensure women who earn way more than the average wage, get paid more than an average salary when they go on maternity leave. I don’t want to see every company in Australia put their prices up so women can pay for expensive lifestyle choices whilst being full-time mums. If the company tax rate was increased for an equitable policy like the NDIS, I would have no complaint.

I guess it all comes down to priorities, doesn’t it Bernie. My priority is the poorest and most disadvantaged in society. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to contribute from my taxable income, to ensure disabled Australians are better supported with their challenges in life. Your priority is your shareholders. How’s that working out for you this week Bernie? Are your shareholders impressed with your public relations disaster?

 

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The consummate hypocrite

It’s all over the news that Julia Gillard is considering increasing the Medicare levy by roughly $300 a year to help pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Even before this announcement, Tony Abbott has been telling us that the NDIS is only possible, or plausible, after the Government (presumably his) can return us to a surplus.

When the Gillard Government proposed the Flood Levy in 2011 to assist (mainly) Queenslanders, you may recall that Tony Abbott opposed the levy as he claimed we did not need it as our economy was strong and we could save the money in other ways. He claimed there was no need to inflict the public with another levy.

Thanks to Shane, a fellow author at the Cafe Whispers blog I would like to point out the hypocrisy of his comments in comparison to the ‘levy for everything government’ (Howard’s) he was a member of between 1996 and 2007.

In 1997 our budget deficit was $5.4 billion and a gun buyback levy was imposed as a result of the tragic massacre in Tasmania. While this was a tragedy and the removal of guns fully supported by myself, there was no natural disaster or infrastructure decimation. The levy imposed simply bought back guns people owned. The Levy went from Oct 1996 to Sep 1997. We were in deficit, so OK we needed a levy for a one off event.

In 1999 our budget surplus was $4.3 billion and a Stevedoring Levy was introduced out of ideological determination to break the MUA and Industrial Reform. This levy lasted from 1999 to May 2006. We were in surplus so under Abbott’s rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

In 2000 our budget surplus was $13 billion and an 11c a litre levy was introduced as a result of ideological determination to deregulate the dairy industry which forced thousand of farmers off the properties to pay them an exit grant. This was supposed to reduce milk prices to the public. It simply reduced milk prices to the farmers sending thousands of them to the wall. This levy was in existence from 2000 until it was abolished by the Rudd Government in 2009. This was an extremely expensive levy placed on the public as milk is a staple. We were in surplus so under Abbott’s rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

In 2000 we also had the East Timor Levy at a time when our budget was in surplus by $13 billion. We were in surplus so under Abbott’s rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

In 2001 our budget surplus was $5.9 billion and a levy of $10 per return flight ticket was introduced to compensate workers who lost their entitlements due to the collapse of a privately owned business who did not provide allowance for employee benefits. This levy lasted from Sep 2001 to June 2003. In addition $100 million of the funds raised was used for airport security and nothing to do with Ansett employees. We were in surplus so under Abbott’s rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

In 2003 our budget was in surplus by $7.4 billion and a 3c per kilo levy on sugar was introduced as a result of ideological determination by the government to deregulate and reform the sugar industry. This levy ran from January 2003 to November 2006. Once again a savage levy on the general public. We were in surplus so under Abbott’s rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

So while the ‘levy for everything government’ had massive surpluses they slugged us via levies with a summary as follows.

1996: Gun Levy
1997: Gun Levy
1998: No levies
1999: Stevedoring Levy
2000: Stevedoring Levy, Milk Levy, East Timor Levy
2001: Stevedoring Levy, Milk Levy, Ansett Levy
2002: Stevedoring Levy, Milk Levy, Ansett Levy
2003: Stevedoring Levy, Milk Levy, Ansett Levy, Sugar Levy
2004: Stevedoring Levy, Milk Levy, Sugar Levy
2005: Stevedoring Levy, Milk Levy, Sugar Levy
2006: Stevedoring Levy, Milk Levy, Sugar Levy
2007: Milk Levy

In addition, other than the gun buyback and Ansett Levy, the other levies were political ideology deregulation levies. Not one levy was as a result of a social need like the NDIS or a natural disaster like the Queensland floods, both effecting hundreds of thousands of people, but rather ideology busting.

Now Tony, please re convince me of your argument. Or are you still just the consummate hypocrite?

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