In the Media

Dignity Party Candidate for Chaffey Richard Challis speaks to ABC about problems of My Aged Care scheme

Stacey Lymbery: Well do you know what its like to have a disability? did you know that people with disabilities often need help at home but theres a backlog of getting that care to them which means a lot of people in regional areas like ours are going without. Richard Challis is the Dignity Party candidate for Chaffey in the election and he says its a very sore point, not just for him but for all people in need of home care. Richard good morning.

Richard Challis: Good morning

Stacey Lymbery: Richard, I’m glad you could come in and chat to us about this because I must admit there are a lot of able-bodied people, myself included who don’t often put too much thought into what it’s like for people with disabilities to just do the basics at home.

Richard Challis: It can be very difficult, the ABC ran an extremely good investigative report over the weekend which showed that 101,508 people around Australia are being assessed for home care packages this is in the aged care disability section, and these packages have not been delivered to them. Either they’re on a package that is assessed as less than they need or they have no package at all. This could mean that someone might not even be able to get up in the morning, in fact the ABC interviewed one person who actually has to pay for a carer to come get her out of bed in the morning, out of her disability pension, a person of 69 years. It’s something that is very concerning, right at the outset I’ll that his particular issue is a federal government issue not a state government issue but I’ve always said that the three levels of government have a joint responsibility for the welfare for all Australians, all South Australians and all people in our district and they need to accept that responsibility and they need to remind each other when things are not working. Now the Minister Ken Wyatt, a lot of you will be aware that Ken Wyatt, was on of the first of our First Australians to become a member of the House of Representatives that was a special moment for Australia, the Minister Ken Wyatt has conceded that this is the result of a whole lot of mistakes, mistakes have occurred in his department but one of the major mistakes is that the program is not properly funded, and he presumably is trying to get the funding for it right now, the reason this is a real matter of concern of the Dignity Party, and this is just the sort of thing that the Dignity Party does it represents people without a voice. There are very few people more voiceless than the elderly disabled.

Stacey Lymbery: What do you think you can do here from the Chaffey electorate?

Richard Challis: Well, our calculations based on population, mean that probably about 150 people in the Chaffey electorate, probably towards 100 of those in the Riverland who are in this position, we don’t know, I’ve written to the minister and asked him, but I suspect the minister wouldn’t have the figures either. The minister admitted that it wasn’t until February last year that he realised there was a problem at all, so to quite an extent we’re operating in the dark. As far as the Dignity Party is concerned it’s crucially important that we retain our voice, and that Kelly Vincent retains her membership of the Upper House in South Australia, so that she can continue to advocate for these people, people without a voice.

Stacey Lymbery: I’m talking to Richard Challis this morning he is the Dignity Party candidate for Chaffey for the 2018 election. The basis of what we’re talking about here is people with disabilities being able to get care in their home when they need it most, what sorts of things would a disabled person need help with?

Richard Challis: Depends on the level of disability, my daughter when she was disabled went through pretty well all the stages, at one point I had to use a hydraulic lifter to get her out of bed and into a wheelchair and she needed a head restraint in her wheelchair so her head wouldn’t fall back and that sort of thing. She went through all the stages to eventually being able to walk a very short distance, so I feel I’ve seen nearly all of it.

Stacey Lymbery: So we’re talking about things like hydraulic lifters to get people out of bed, what else might they need help with?

Richard Challis: Well they need help with showering, day to day things, need help with.. if your living alone, you need help with things like doing the shopping, a lot of disabled people can’t drive and in a lot of cases and especially in a place like a small Riverland town, theres not a taxi service so you simply don’t have any way of getting to the shops.

Stacey Lymbery: Disabled taxi service you mean?

Richard Challis: Yes, it depends on the level of disability, Renmark does have a taxi service but as far as I know it doesn’t have an accessible taxi which can accommodate a wheelchair, I believe the council does have a vehicle like that and I believe the council does it’s very best so I give them credit for that but not everybody lives in Renmark, Renmark is in fact the largest town in this electorate and a lot of people live way outside the towns and they have real problems.

Stacey Lymbery: Now, we’re talking about the different levels of care packages that are available, is there 4, is that right?

Richard Challis: There are 4 levels, the most comprehensive care package is a level 4 care package.

Stacey: And is that basically representing full time home care.

Richard Challis: Not necessarily full time, its quite often the person will actually have a carer you end up with a situation say with a couple in their 70’s, one of them has a profound disability and the other one is their carer. The level of care does depend a lot on the capabilities of the carer, if your slightly infirm yourself you wouldn’t need any help for you but you would need help to look after your partner.

Stacey Lymbery: And I understand it gets more difficult if you’re over the age of 65, what are the complications there?

Richard Challis: Yes, it is unfortunately a complex system, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the NDIS, was introduced and one of the objectives was to try and change the situation that was existing before, when you were ending up with about 3 different types of disabled people. People who were disabled from an accident, people who were disabled that could claim against an insurance company and people who were born disabled, and all of those people had different levels of funding and often care providers actually had 3 different schedules of fees because they were not going to bankrupt someone who was poor and disabled, the NDIS was supposed to fix that, and to a large extent it has but there is another issue which is that it doesn’t accept new cases over the age of 65, so on your 65th birthday you cease to be eligible to go into the NDIS, if you’re already in it then you can stay, so we will unfortunately end up with 2 classes of people over 65.

Stacey Lymbery: So if i have a car accident at age 66 what happens?

Richard Challis: If you have a car accident the compulsory 3rd party will pay out for it, it is complicated as I said, and one of the important things as I said is that everybody gets equal access to care and equality under the law.

Stacey Lymbery: So just to finalise here Richard, what is it that you’re asking for?

Richard Challis: Well what i’m asking for is in fact to maintain Kelly Vincent’s voice in the upper house of the South Australian parliament, I’m asking everyone who is listening to this to seriously consider voting for Dignity Party.

Stacey Lymbery: But I mean in relation to these care packages.

Richard Challis: In relation to this care package,  its going to need funding, you know we’re not privy to the deliberations of cabinet unless they sell the files in a filing cabinet which has happened before, but I suspect the Minister for Ageing Ken Wyatt is in fact negotiating with his partners in cabinet to try and get more funding for it, one of the things that really does dismay us is that theres no proper monitoring, we don’t know whats going on.

Stacey Lymbery: Alright, good to talk to you again Richard Challis Dignity Party candidate for Chaffey thanks for coming in this morning.

Richard Challis: Thank you

Stacey Lymbery: Thank you