In the Media

Kelly Vincent – 5AA Interview on the NDIS and Medical Cannabis

Andrew Reimer: Kelly Vincent, when it comes to the NDIS what are the latest developments there?


Kelly Vincent: There has been a review announced by the Federal Government and certainly within the Dignity Party. What we don’t want to see is this used as an excuse to wind the scheme back and give fewer supports or fewer resources to the people on the scheme. Any government scheme should be reviewed and audited. This is a $22b scheme but we do need to make sure that this isn’t used as an excuse to wind back the support that’s already been given. We know that people with disabilities and our families have fought for many decades to get a scheme like this on the agenda, it’s certainly not a perfect scheme, we need to work through those teething problems. The Dignity Party has played a key role in that particularly when it comes to sorting out some of the issues around the website so that people can actually get easy access to the funding and make sure that they can pay for services that they’re receiving under the scheme. What we don’t want to see happen is people getting fewer supports, the more support people have the more independent they can be, the greater their chances of being employed and the greater the chances of people who had to give up work within their families to look after them as well going back to work. It’s certainly the right thing to have a review to make sure the scheme is running well but we don’t want to see anyone losing support as a result.


Andrew Reimer: How’s the rollout going when it comes to the age groups now because that’s gone up to the next stage group?


Kelly Vincent: It has so gone to the next stage, so people at the age of 17 are being rolled out onto the scheme, and then from July this year people aged 18 and over will be rolled onto the scheme. That part of the rollout is going to happen area by area. If you are curious as to when your suburb might go onto the scheme, if you’re an adult person or supporting someone who’s an adult please log onto the National Disability Insurance Agency website to get that information.


Andrew Reimer: Medical cannabis – there’s a rally coming up?


Kelly Vincent: There was a rally last weekend, hopefully not the last of them. If anyone would like to join in the future I’m hoping there will be future events but last weekend there was a strong turnout – around 100, 150 people to call on the State Government to make changes around the area of medical cannabis, particularly cannabis oil. It’s really important that we do separate this from recreational use of cannabis because the oil is produced in a way that it doesn’t contain the properties that would produce a high so it’s purely for medical purposes. People turn to this drug as a last resort. They might be themselves experiencing severe pain from a chronic condition like multiple sclerosis. They might even have a child who is experiencing many seizures a day, very severe seizures that are not respondent to other forms of medication and in a sense of desperation they turn to cannabis oil, we can see positive results and I’ve certainly been in contact with some of those people who’ve gotten a very positive result. Going down from having maybe 50 seizures a day to maybe having one a week or none at all so this is having a great result.


Andrew Reimer: Is it falling on deaf ears as far as the State Government is concerned or the Health Minister, Jack Snelling?


Kelly Vincent: Well interestingly we’re in a bit of a difficult situation because that’s one of those legal areas that’s still a bit murky because the Federal Government has made moves to decriminalise cannabis for medical use and left it up to the states to decide what form that will take and how much a person can have in their possession and so on. So we really need the State Government to come out and show some leadership and clarify and make move to clarify, that medicinal cannabis can be used in South Australia, and that’s really what the rally was calling on. As well as an amnesty for those people providing medical cannabis oil; at the moment can continue to do so, so that people who are using it at the moment don’t have to go without their supply.


Andrew Reimer: Well what we need to do is hear more stories, real stories from individuals or family members of those individuals, and people like yourself, who get that message across to those politicians so they understand the real implications of the benefits of that particular oil when it comes to managing pain, when it comes to managing certain conditions as well. That’s what we need – more of those stories getting told out there and our politicians actually taking the time to listen and take notice as well.


Kelly Vincent: Absolutely, I think this is one of the issues unfortunately where the views of some members of parliament actually lag significantly behind the general view in the community and we really need to catch up. The other point I would make is that as a person with disability and to some extent as a woman as well I’m more than used to having my body policed and being told what is best for my body. So it is not for me to stand in the way of someone who swears that this is working for them, the only thing working for them. How can I as a member of parliament representing marginalised groups and even more so how can I as a halfway decent human being stand in the way of people getting easy and safe access to that medicine. So certainly this does need to be changed and I think it’s important to remember too that further regulation could actually lead to safer access to medical cannabis because if we have it in law that’s allowed we can regulate it and we can make sure that what people are accessing is safe and readily available. And I think the other important aspect to remember too is the employment opportunities it could bring, in terms of the manufacturing and producing of the oil. So this is really a win-win situation. There is a medical cannabis and industrial hemp round table; I think that it’s meeting for the first time tomorrow. A group of interested and expert people coming together to find a way through this, but we’ll need the Government to not use that as an excuse not to make change happen.



Andrew Reimer: What about the Opposition and the Shadow Spokesperson for Health, Stephen Wade, have you had discussions with him? Was he involved with the rally at all or what’s their attitude?


Kelly Vincent: I didn’t see any Opposition members at first at the rally, and I think I’m correct in saying there were none. And I haven’t had a discussion with Stephen Wade about this issue particularly but I will make sure that I do that because as I said the views of members of parliament is significantly lagging behind the general view in the communities. The view is very much that this does need to change and we, within the Dignity Party, will work with whomever we have to, to make sure we get this changed. So that people can have those employment opportunities, so that young people with severe epilepsy can get back to living their lives, so the people with chronic pain can get back to contributing to their family, to their work and to society, so we’ll work with whomever we have to, to get this across the line both in the parliament and the community.


Andrew Reimer: Kelly have a great year alright, good to talk to you … and we’ll chat again very soon.


Kelly Vincent: Likewise, I’ll look forward to that, thanks Andrew.


Andrew Reimer: Kelly Vincent from State Dignity Party, she’s the Member of the Legislative Council and does a heck of a lot of great work for the people in our state with disabilities and others as well.