In the Media

Ticketek Special Needs Hotline and NDIS

Andrew Reimer: Kelly Vincent, you’ve got lots to talk about tonight; we’ll start off with the Ticketek Special Need Hotline and there was a bit of a debacle in relation to the Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars concerts.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely and unfortunately it appears to still be going on by all accounts. So what’s happened here is Ticketek has a specific phone number for accessible tickets to a concert whether for a wheelchair space or perhaps the blind or vision-impaired need to bring their guide dog with them, or they need a companion card price, that’s the line you would call to book those kinds of tickets. But not only is that service not being answered, it’s not even ringing in the first place. And I have constituents who’ve been in contact with me to complain about this; they’ve called up more than 100 times and still haven’t managed to get through. And Ticketek really aren’t explaining why that’s happening. As far as I’m concerned they’re yet to put out any kind of official statement about this. And it’s really not acceptable because many, many people of course Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran are big popstars and many, many people want to go see them and yet we see people with disabilities yet again being let down and locked out of what should be an easy and enjoyable experience

Andrew Reimer: Absolutely. And why should it be more difficult for somebody with a disability as opposed to any other member of our society it beggars belief, it really does.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely, this is the stuff I talk about when I say my role as a Dignity Party MP is really to put myself out of work because it’s not just the laws and the policies we’re talking about, it’s everyday kind of discrimination that people with disabilities and other minorities face as well. So, if Ticketek aren’t going to come to the party and change their ways maybe it’s time for big venues like the Adelaide Oval to consider using another agency if possible and use our buying power in that way because one way or another I think we need to send a strong message to Ticketek and every other business for that matter that we won’t stand by discriminatory practices. And given one in five people has a disability in this country it’s actually just not good business sense to lock us out of the market.

Andrew Reimer: That’s absolutely true, when it comes to the accessibility at the Entertainment Centre, Convention Centre, Adelaide Oval and other grounds around the metropolitan area, what sort of scorecard do you give these sort of venues when it comes to catering for people with disabilities?

Kelly Vincent: That’s an interesting question, the seating set-up will vary from show to show, so it really does depend in terms of where that extra seating is available and how much of it. I think generally we are getting there and that’s why Dignity Party is proud to achieve things like putting universal design principles into state planning law, so developers actually have to consider ways to make public amenities more accessible not only to people with disabilities but to those who might be elderly, parents with prams and so on. So it’s not about providing special treatment but actually saying how can I make this experience accessible to everyone who is going to come through these doors? But unfortunately having said that, we do also have a lot of fulfilment venues in the state that are a bit older and some of them are even heritage listed and therefore it can be a difficult to achieve access but on the whole I think it makes the work of myself and Dignity Party in the Parliament, we are gradually getting there and hopefully even more so getting that awareness that it actually does benefit everyone to provide access.

Andrew Reimer: Absolutely Grant wants to make a comment about the Ticketek

Caller Grant: With the Port Adelaide vs Crows showdown recently held at the Adelaide Oval, I wanted to get an elderly family friend of mine who’s got a walking frame a ticket. I had to contact Ticketek for the special needs line, it took me two days to get through. All it was giving me was an engaged dialled tone, I rang up Ticketek they kept transferring me to the same line. It hung up every time. I rang them up and I finally got to complain to someone after about two hours and then I got through that evening and I bought him a ticket and the major problem with that was that the handicapped seating around the Eastern Side is all considered premium terrace and this pensioner has paid $79 for a ticket to go the bloody football so people who sit next to me, in a Member’s Reserved area you can buy a ticket for $22. I tried speaking to the people at Adelaide Oval, they don’t care, they say it’s Ticketek.

Andrew Reimer: It’s purely and simply about the money.

Caller Grant: It shouldn’t be. It should be if someone’s not fit and able to the game, we need to look after our seniors or disabled people, or vision impaired, whatever, they’re not getting a fair go and I’m sure that’s the same as any venue because it all goes through Ticketek.

Andrew Reimer:Kelly

Kelly Vincent: Two days he’s tried to get a ticket and even when he gets it, it costs more, the view isn’t always as good so this is why I’ve been trying to liaise with lots of different ticketing venues including Ticketek recently trying to implement the number of measures to help this, including online bookings, while that would be difficult to implement I think it’s something that we have to look at because if you can’t get through the phone line for two days or even longer the chances are that tickets will sell out and yet again people who have the least opportunity to experience these types of things will be the most disadvantaged.

Andrew Reimer: They got no chance whatever being inclusive in our society being able to do something as simple as going to see a game of football at Adelaide Oval.

Kelly Vincent: That’s right, given that people with disabilities and many other minority groups already experience discrimination in legislation and policy it’s the everyday kind of stuff that just rubs salt in the wound I think. So thanks to Grant for reinforcing the point and showing, you know, companies like Ticketek that the community won’t stand for this.

Andrew Reimer: Do me a favour Kelly maybe get in touch with the sports program here on FIVEaa and just bring that up with Rowey and Bicks as well, highlight that on their program because obviously a greater sporting audience tuning in to their timeslot you’d imagine than perhaps listening on a Sunday night when it comes to this issue in particular and getting accessibility for people with disabilities to Adelaide Oval and other venues, getting tickets in a reasonable time and in a reasonable area and at a reasonable cost. They may be able to bring a little bit more pressure to bear on the Ticketek etcetera.

Kelly Vincent: Thanks for that Andrew. I’m happy to talk to whomever I have to, to make sure

Andrew Reimer: Well give them a ring, give their producer a ring and see what can happen okay.

Kelly Vincent: Will do.

Andrew Reimer: All right, now also you want to give us an update on the NDIS.

Kelly Vincent: Yes just very briefly. In the last couple of weeks some really interesting polling has come out, two separate polls in fact, which show that the majority of Australians actually support a modest increase in the Medicare levy to make sure that we have sustainable ongoing funding for the NDIS – 61% according to one poll and 54% according to another. So I think this is interesting because it illustrates that I think overwhelmingly Australians are starting to recognise more and more that funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme is really an investment in not only the lives of people who have disabilities at the moment but those who will acquire them in the future, whether that’s through an accident or being born, this really is I think a way to make sure we have sustainable funding for this very important scheme far into the future, I’m glad that that’s starting to be recognised.

Andrew Reimer: Look it should be recognised but what about when it comes to funding. The increase in the Medicare Levy what are your thoughts about that?

Kelly Vincent: I think it is necessary, a modest increase, again to ensure that sustainability of the scheme, given the difference it can make for the lifetime of many, many people who acquire disabilities far into the future, but also I think of course as well as raising additional funds they need to look at ways to make sure that the funds we do have are being spent in the best way possible in a way that’s going to be sustainable to use the South Australian rollout as an example, which has so far focussed on children and young people, one of the very interesting I think points that’s come up is what is something that the child needs specifically because of their disability and what is something that the parent would buy for their child anyway whether they had a disability or not. So that’s an interesting discussion to have funding wise as those sorts of discussions become more solidified and the eligibility for funding is more solidified as a result I think we’ll see some more sustainability in the funding through those discussions as well.

Andrew Reimer: Are we going to have some losers in all of this as well when it comes to funding? Obviously if you’re a healthcare professional it could work in your favour but there are other areas for example when it comes to supported housing, which is not necessarily going to be straightforward when it comes to receiving funding in order to be able to house people with disabilities out there in the community.

Kelly Vincent: And while some of that uncertainty is a good thing because, first time one of the major things the NDIS does in terms of its principles is put the buying power actually directly in the hands of the person with the disability or their family in the case of a child or someone who needs to be supported, so actually they can choose where they get their services and when and how and so if they’re not satisfied they can move that funding to a different service, which is really not a power we’ve had in the past. So that is I guess the positive side, the more tricky side of that coin I suppose is that for some of the smaller organisations who don’t have the ability to be doing applications or paperwork or even for some more tricky areas like mental health is one where the funding is really up in the air because of the way some of those services are delivered in the community. So while there is a lot of good to it there’s also a lot of uncertainty, that’s why I said service providers and people with disabilities alike need to be supported but to learn how best to navigate and negotiate the system because given that we’ve lived under block funding where people with disabilities have been forced into services without any real buying power for so long you can’t expect this to be automatically understood overnight. So there are definitely some challenges ahead and we’ll continue to lobby on those, particularly in that mental health space, but on the whole I think putting that buying power in the hands of people with disabilities can really be a positive thing.

Andrew Reimer: When it comes to the funding though, when it comes to upping the Medicare Levy I think it’s certainly you know a good way forward in funding the NDIS but what I don’t like is the fact that if you already have private healthcare, you’re paying already premium prices for private healthcare you’re being hit twice; you’re going to be slugged extra money as well for your Medicare Levy, which I think is unfair and I think that needs to be looked at before, you know, they decide to go forward with that.

Kelly Vincent: That’s an interesting point but I guess one could also argue that there are things which the NDIS will fund which your private health won’t necessarily, including wheelchairs, mobility aids, disability related support so I understand your perspective but you can also argue that the NDIS better funds things that your private health won’t necessarily, but I think you raise an interesting point.

Andrew Reimer: There’s got to be a balance I guess at the end of the day Kelly because not everybody has a disability, yes you know we should look after people with disabilities and anybody could become disabled at any given point in time, there’s no doubt about that, but you have to be fair and equitable when it comes to who’s forking out the money and especially when they’re basically being forced to double dip because of paying those prices for the health insurance as well.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely, like I said I think it’s a valid point and it needs to be part of the discussion but in a progressive developed country we don’t only pay taxes for the things that directly affect us. At the moment,

Andrew Reimer: No, no, no.

Kelly Vincent: We pay for things that include the whole society.

Andrew Reimer: Look and I agree with that and I get that but look this is where it’s got to be fair and equitable I guess at the end of the day. Michael at Greenwith wants to make a comment or has a question for you Kelly. Hello Michael.

Caller Michael: Kelly, obviously you know every Australian embraces the NDIS and it’s a wonderful thing, it really is, but having said that first of all the first question to you would be who would you support most when it comes to funding, when it comes to the two major parties and that should be a fairly straight forward answer who do you think has the better funding model?

Kelly Vincent: One of the great things about being in a minor party and working on the crossbench in Parliament is that you’re essentially forced to work with whoever you have to, to get changes across Parliament because you don’t have the voting power of some of the parties with more MPs and you could look at that as a negative thing but I think it’s a great thing because the way that we create change is by considering lots of different perspectives and so what I guess I’m saying is that I think the funding of the NDIS needs to be beyond politics because it does benefit the whole of society.

Caller Michael: but who do you think has the better funding model, Labor or Liberal?

Kelly Vincent: I think it has to be beyond party politics and what I’m interested in whomever is in Government is making sure that we have sustainable funding for this really important scheme that is already making and trying to continue to make.

Andrew Reimer: but the money, the way it’s going to be spent, who will have the better model when it comes to ensuring that we’re getting bang for buck when it comes to the money that’s being put into this scheme.

Caller Michael: I do have one more point, because I’ve spent a bit of time interstate and I listen to other radio stations and they are very informative, there was a gentleman that had rung up and this is only fourteen days ago his son has cerebral palsy and he was able to purchase two items one for $11,000, the other for $9,000 so $20,000 in total which would obviously benefit his son’s life and make their family life easier, he was required, this is rolling out in New South Wales quicker than it is in other states, he was able to retrieve the full payment online with no upload of receipt other than to be told that he should keep his receipt. He was fully reimbursed online, he even contacted the NDIS and said I have receipts and there is an option to upload them and prove it and he was told by them it’s not necessary but keep them because you may be audited, surely this is pink batts on steroids.

Andrew Reimer: Thanks for calling, Kelly if you can respond please.

Kelly Vincent: If I can address the second point which is there are different ways that people can be funded through the NDIS, you can be self-managed which means you control the funding yourself and spend it when you’re ready according to your own needs and wishes but of course it has to be spent on things that are in your plan like Michael said, you do have to keep receipts to be audited or you can also be agency managed, someone manages the funds for you and you don’t actually see it or you can do a mixture of both and without knowing the ins and outs of the particular case that Michael was talking about it is difficult to give an exact answer but yes that is right, people keep the receipts and then can be audited.

Andrew Reimer: The fear is accountability and people making claims and maybe just trying to put things forward and hoping that they aren’t audited potentially committing fraud. Now the first question about bang for buck when it comes to the two major political parties.

Kelly Vincent: I feel like I’ve already answered that question as a state MP, we’re talking about a federal thing here and so I don’t have direct control over

Andrew Reimer: but your own personal belief, your party’s belief about who is going to offer better value for money

Kelly Vincent: My belief is that whomever is in Government we need to have a sustainable model and that’s why I’m talking to you about the increase in the Medicare levy and other factors that could ensure that we have that whomever is in Government.

Andrew Reimer: so the way it stands at the moment you just believe the status quo.

Kelly Vincent: That’s not what I’m saying at all, what I’m saying is we need to move forward, make sure we have a sustainable model that will remain in place in the same way with the same level of sustainability whomever is in Government, this is a once in a generation reform that is transforming the lives of people with disabilities that will continue to do so if we have sustainable funding and that needs to be beyond party politics, Labor or Liberal.

Andrew Reimer: we also have to have robust debate in order to ensure we are getting the best value possible for our tax payer dollars.

Kelly Vincent: Which is precisely what we’re doing right now, Andrew.

Andrew Reimer: alright, Kelly, thanks very much for that.