Rick Neagle – 5AA Interview on People with mental health transitioning to the NDIS

Andrew Reimer: Good evening to you Rick, how you going, alright?

Rick Neagle: Yeah; great thanks Andrew, just representing Kelly tonight; Kelly Vincent from the Dignity Party and appreciate being on your program too.

Andrew Reimer: Now when it comes to issues affecting the Dignity Party you’ve got a bit to talk about as well in regards to mental health and the NDIS as well.

Rick Neagle: This is a big issue for clients from the mental health sector trying to transition into the NDIS, and there’s a lot of gaps involved in that and not enough representation for people with psychosocial disabilities and we’re trying to do a lot in that space, and Kelly seems to be the only voice in Australia trying to represent people in this space, so I have the good fortune of attending a consultation which was hosted by the Mental Health Commission and run by Professor Fels and Professor Ian Hickey here last week and it was just great being in that room with a whole lot of people who having experienced a psychosocial disability talk to mental service providers and a lot of bureaucrats, and it was just interesting being in the room discussing the many issues that – a lot of shortfalls in fact of the mental health system and the Transforming Health push of the State Government.  So, I think Premier Weatherill has a lot of work to do in this space, and we’re trying to make this an issue and make sure people don’t get left behind.

Andrew Reimer: When you say ‘the premier needs to do a lot of work in this space’ what areas in particular was it highlighted that the work really needs to be done?

Rick Neagle: Well there’s – in particular a lot of people with mental health issues have a lot of physical effects issues and don’t have a lot of representation in this area, and there’s also this Disability Care Australia fund which is all the money that goes into the fund from the Medicare Levy from the NDIS that the State Labor government in Queensland have accessed just recently, and a lot of that money that wasn’t actually campaigned for by our State Government here, through the Feds, I think Premier Weatherill could have more to do with the Minister for disability in Canberra there, to try and access some of these funds ,because the State Labor Government in Queensland accessed some $75 million which is used, not just on subsidising people from the State Transport subsidy scheme, which has been cancelled here in South Australia, but also to help people transition from the current plans in not just the mental health sector but also the physical and intellectual disability space into their NDIS plans. There’s a lot of gaps and a lot of people aren’t getting the necessary funds they need to get the reasonable support and access to services that they need.

Andrew Reimer: Describe what you mean by ‘gaps’

Rick Neagle: Well the transport, for instance, is one of those things in particular that people with disabilities have all been used to having, and that’s something that’s been scrapped by the State Government here, so NDIS is supposed to pick up the slack in that, and unfortunately the NDIS aren’t doing that, so there’s huge gaps there as I said before people need representation when they go into get their NDIS plans, and some don’t even know still that the NDIS exists, let alone they are not getting enough services. So –

Andrew Reimer: What about service providers out there whose job it is to help the people work out their plans when it comes to the NDIS? The information is getting out to the stakeholders, the people with disabilities who need it the most?

Rick Neagle: Yeah indeed, and some of the big service providers here in Adelaide, and I won’t mention any in particular, have got that arm to their model, and they are certainly doing a lot of work in that space, but there’s still not enough representation, and I think clearly we’ve got to put some clear boundaries in place to make sure that big service providers also don’t gain access to their own services, but are actually referencing the people and their best interests to get all the services they need, so maybe some independent advocates are necessary to advocate for people with disabilities who otherwise aren’t aware of these services, and some of the stories we’re hearing in the community from all around Australia is that people aren’t getting the necessary funds they still need, some are actually being misrepresented and getting less funds than they had under the State disability schemes that they were used to, so a lot of work needs to be done here and I think the general sentiment out of mainstream community is that now that the NDIS has been rolled out, if people with disabilities are okay, well that’s not the case.  It’s really just the start of the whole issue, and we just have got to start providing more mainstream services for people – not just in the health sector, the education sector, certainly the transport sector as well there’s a lot of work to be done and 45% unemployment of people with disabilities, it’s a statistic that’s just abhorrent and people need to work in that area as well.  So we’re hoping that the NDIS can offer enough supports for people so they can access these mainstream services too, and the State Government has to be aware of this and help support that transition to these mainstream sectors for us.

Andrew Reimer: Rick, you talked just a moment ago about the Disability Care Australia Fund and the fact that Queensland was able to access $75 million. Are you aware as to the reasons why we didn’t do that here in South Australia? Was it oversight? What was it – complacency?

Rick Neagle:  I guess his meetings with Elon Musk have been a distraction – and the big lithium ion battery that’s coming our way!

Andrew Reimer: Basically, you’re saying it wasn’t sexy. 

Rick Neagle: Yeah, the money is there at a federal level in this Fund, and it’s been overlooked or there’s been an oversight in this area by our state government. The monies are there for us to access and the State Government in Queensland got access to it to fix and remedy some of their problems, so our Premier’s the only one that can actually answer the question as to why he hasn’t approached the federal government.

Andrew Reimer: has Kelly Vincent asked the Premier that question?

Rick Neagle: I think that’d be something in Parliament.

Andrew Reimer: the Premier and his Government seem to be a bit remiss time and time again when it comes to answering questions relating to budgetary measures.

Rick Neagle: Kelly has answered many, many questions and Minister Vlahos certainly has gone missing and we’re not getting any answers from her for people that are vulnerable in our communities and I think it’s a huge oversight by the Government and obviously Premier Weatherill’s decided too, certainly not seeing Minister Vlahos in the press, in the media, in the community, I think it’s time for her to step up and answer some of these questions we have.

Andrew Reimer: Can yourself or Kelly get back to us with the answers please because we’ve very interested as to why there is an opportunity for our State Government to have access to large amounts of money to help those who are disadvantaged through disability make their lives a bit better and our Government hasn’t gone to them to ask for money we are entitled to that’s totally unacceptable.

Rick Neagle: It is unacceptable South Australians have been paying a Medicare levy and the monies are there for our use too it’s time we actually make full use of those taxes we’ve been paying.

Andrew Reimer: thanks for coming on the program.