Ironing out the wrinkles

Amy Green – Port Augusta Transcontinental

DIGNITY PARTY MP Kelly Vincent has enjoyed country hospitality in the Upper Spencer Gulf region this week in the wake of the next phase of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Ms Vincent has met with Port Augusta locals and constituents about how local access issues can be improved for regional areas.

After being born prematurely Ms Vincent developed cerebral palsy and has since worked tirelessly to advocate for those with disability. Ms Vincent has said that there are issues that need to be worked out in terms of the diversity of the NDIS for regional areas.

“It’s important to understand peoples perspectives about how to improve access to services because its all well and good to have a plan that says you’re eligible for services, but if they aren’t available in your area and you don’t have transport to get to them its not going to achieve what it should be achieving,” Ms Vincent said.

“For the people for whom it’s working well that have had that slightly smoother transition, it’s absolutely changing lives in a positive way.”

Nat Hodgson’s 10-year-old daughter, Emmerson, suffers from Asperger Syndrome and has been on the NDIS for almost a year. “It’s been a long process, we probably took 12 months from the time we applied to the time we got the package approved,” Mrs Hodgson said.

“Once we got the package it’s been great because we’ve been able to access services that have been funded by the NDIS.” Emmerson benefits from weekly speech therapy sessions, access to an occupational therapist and psychology services. All of which were previously difficult to access due to geographical challenges.

“The Biggest benefit we’ve had on the NDIS is with the speech therapy our daughter gets for an hour every week, the speech pathologist comes to her whereas before we had to take her to the sessions which was a lot harder because I work full time,” Mrs Hodgson said.

Whilst the NDIS has been beneficial to most participants, the slowdown of the rollout comes as a particular concern to people with disabilities who have been waiting decades for this kind of reform.

“So many of us have gone without adequate service because we didn’t meet the eligibility criteria of the old system,” Ms Vincent said. “Behind all the figures, the data and the numbers are peoples lives that we have the chance to make a massive difference to but we can only do that if we actually listen to those voices.”

“We need to listen to both the people with disability and the service providers, particularly in the regions, about how we can do that.”