News, Ophthalmic organisations

Blind and low vision sector support NDIS review recommendations

Vision 2020 Australia and Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) have welcomed the release of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) review and support the proposed next steps that stand to benefit blind and low vision people sometimes considered “not disabled enough” to access the scheme.

This position is also endorsed by other organisations that provide critical services to people who are blind or have low vision including Vision Australia, Guide Dogs Australia, See Differently (with the Royal Society for the Blind), and Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA). All are Vision 2020 Australia members.

According to a statement, the minister for NDIS, Mr Bill Shorten, acknowledged the NDIS as “the only lifeboat in the ocean”. One of the review’s key recommendations is “foundational supports” for people with disability, whether or not they’re scheme participants.

General foundational supports would include programs and activities like information and advice, individual and family capacity building, peer support, self-advocacy, and disability employment supports. Targeted foundational supports are supports available for people aged under 65 with disability who are not eligible for the NDIS.

“These supports will create a continuum, so there would not be so much of a focus on being in or out of the NDIS,” Shorten said.

According to a joint Vision 2020 Australia-BCA statement, introducing foundational supports may provide a crucial source of funding for people whose needs are more episodic, including those whose vision loss prevents them from holding a driver’s license, who are nonetheless considered “not disabled enough” to access the NDIS.

The organisations have also welcomed the review’s focus in areas such as improving outcomes for young children, accessing assistive technology and a new mobility policy that would ensure people unable to drive still have access to education and employment.

Additionally, the organisations welcomed the review’s focus on improving access and planning processes.

“We think making plans much more flexible, and giving people the choice and control to use their funding for the supports that will help them, is a valuable and much-needed step in the right direction,” Vision 2020 Australia and BCA said.

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Ms Carly Iles welcomed Shorten’s comments that the reforms would be implemented through collaboration and cooperation.

“I look forward to working with state and federal governments to ensure equitable access and inclusion are upheld for the low vision and blind community,” Iles said.

BCA CEO Ms Deb Deshayes was thankful for the NDIS review panel’s efforts in engaging the advocacy sector, and people with disability in this review.

“The sector promotes that this level of engagement continues in the next phase of the government’s consideration, response and implementation of the review’s recommendations.”

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