Tess hopes scheme leads to fairer future

DISADVANTAGED: Tess Pearce, left, with her mother Sandi Pearce. Picture: Rachel Afflick
DISADVANTAGED: Tess Pearce, left, with her mother Sandi Pearce. Picture: Rachel Afflick

TESS Pearce has been forced to put her dream of studying law and living independently on hold because of a lack of funding within the disability sector.

Ms Pearce, who has cerebral palsy, achieved the equal highest score for legal studies in Ballarat while studying for her VCE in 2011, and gained a place to study law at Victoria University in Melbourne.

She says her case worker applied for funding from the Department of Human Services to employ carers to accompany her to university, but the support agencies pulled out within a day of her starting classes.

She was also told the only way she could move out of home was to live in shared disability accommodation..

"Not receiving the independence I desired, coupled with the uncertainty of being able to study next semester, led to not being able to concentrate on my study and consequently I deferred university until 2013," Ms Pearce said.

"Not walking doesn't bother me. Not being able to use my hands doesn't bother me. But not being given the same rights, opportunities and choices as everybody else bothers me."

Ms Pearce hopes the building of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, which received $1 billion over four years in Tuesday's federal budget, will lead to a fairer future.

Members of Ballarat's disability support sector yesterday welcomed the funding cautiously, describing it as a good start.

Karden chief executive officer Disability Support Foundation Karen McCraw said the implementation of a national disability insurance scheme was one of the greatest things that could happen for people with disabilities.

"People will actually be assessed on their needs ? they won't be playing disability lotto anymore," she said.

Ms McCraw said the funding was a good start but there was still a long way to go.

Pinarc Support Services chief executive officer Donna Hogan said it was very positive news but the announcement didn't go all the way.

"We still need to advocate," she said.

McCallum Disability Services acting chief executive officer Noelene Collins said people with disabilities, their families, carers, advocates and the disability sector had campaigned long and hard for the scheme.

"It will help to revolutionise and give a much needed overhaul to the way disability services will be delivered across Australia In the future," she said.