BALLARAT disability campaigners have reacted angrily to the Baillieu government’s decision not to participate in a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, saying human rights should come before politics.
Victoria and other Coalition-led states failed to agree to a proposed funding model for the NDIS at Wednesday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra, leaving thousands of people with disabilities and their families without access to improved services.
Ballarat woman Tess Pearce, who has cerebral palsy, said the nearly 20 per cent of Australians living with disability deserved better from the state and federal governments.
“There has been a public outcry because they are overlooking disability for money which means a lack of resources and less human rights,” she said.
“It would not be OK for any other group in society but because it is disability they think it is OK.”
Ms Pearce was forced to defer study at Victoria University in Melbourne this year because of a lack of carers and independent living options.
She said agencies including Karden Disability Services Foundation had been let down, while South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT each agreed to trials.
In an open letter to Premier Ted Baillieu published today, Ms Pearce said the NDIS would allow her to continue her studies and live a more independent life.
During negotiations this week, Victoria was asked to provide $40 million over four years for a trial in the Barwon region, with the Commonwealth putting in $100 million as part of a total $1 billion budget commitment.
Mr Baillieu said he couldn’t agree to the funding model based on the cost and other conditions.
“We think it’s absolutely critical to provide that for the disabled community and to give some certainty without all of the difficulties that go with that in terms of funding,” he said.
Queensland and New South Wales also declined to sign up for trials on Wednesday, with negotiations continuing in Canberra yesterday between Victorian community services Minister Mary Wooldridge and the federal government.
PINARC Disability Support chief executive Marianne Hubbard said the political stalemate was a disappointment for the Ballarat community.
“Disability is a real issue for everyone in Ballarat, and right now there are people in our community who are not even having their most basic support needs met,” she said.
“I am actually in shock and I hope that the backlash has some impact and makes the politicians act.”
Ballarat MP Catherine King said Mr Baillieu had turned his back on hundreds of people across the Ballarat region with disabilities.
“People with disability have waited long enough.
“The Gillard government is implementing the NDIS so people with a significant and permanent disability have the peace of mind to know their needs will be addressed with dignity, no matter where they live, what their circumstances or how they acquired their disability,” Ms King said.
“Other states did their bit – I can’t understand why people with a disability aren’t as big a priority for the Premier of Victoria.”