NDIS was designed to fail and is doing it brilliantly
Louisa L 22 July 2019
$84 billion over four years was budgeted for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), but little of it seems to be helping people with disabilities.
US imperialism’s managers in federal parliament chose a funding model similar to the one that decimated Australia’s strong TAFE system. (See Postscript: TAFE below.) It resulted in huge scandals and big cuts to services.
The NDIS dream was more sophisticated. It was sold in a huge PR campaign that disarmed opposition and set up great hopes among disabled people.
The reality saw billions thrown into the air and whoever grabbed it first with the cheapest offer for contracts ran off with the money.
Fail, fail, fail
It was designed to line corporate pockets and fail disabled people and is doing that very efficiently.
Businesses make decisions about who is eligible. The person then attracts a bucket of money. Often they have to find their own carers. For this the company is paid a whacking great fee, ongoing.
Many families with a number of disabled children have no support. Most disabled young people are mainstreamed, instead of receiving specialist education, especially in high schools. It’s cheaper, of course.
Teachers are often expected to manage groups students with multiple disabilities and zero support.
Parents, who are able to, put their lives on hold to help their children. But current education legislation enforces ‘A to E’ reporting on young peoples’ progress. This compounds the damage inflicted by the lack of NDIS support.
Disabled children can work to their limits and make significant progress, but each year only see E, E, E, E, E and E. Why not stick a dunce’s cap on their heads and stick them in a corner, like they did in the first half of 20th Century? It’s only marginally more cruel.
Catching the small crooks
The ABC’s A Current Affair, Sky and Foxtel hunt down individual rorters, like Rebecca Assie who pretended to be blind to get disability funding and was allegedly training others to do the same. She had over $200,000 in her Housing Commission home.
But we’re talking tens of billions. The mock outrage of the monopoly media against Assie is both a distraction and a veiled attack on other ‘undeserving poor’ in public housing or struggling to live on Newstart.
Meanwhile, the mother of a child born without eyeballs has to provide a specialists’ letter saying that her daughter is still blind. A quadriplegic for 19 years is told his specialist must state he’s still quadriplegic.
The formfilling and re-filling and treadmill of appointments is insurmountable for most of those in need.
Undermining human relationships
Stability of care is critical for the disabled. They need people who know and understand them, as individuals with particular strengths and needs.
For those who succeed against the odds and get NDIS funding, there’s a constant turnover of carers, so badly paid they often disappear soon after creating a good, or not so good, relationship with the “client” or “customer”.
This business relationship undermines human ones.
If carers are available as needed, often not the case, some bring negative judgements learned in the swill of capitalist culture that affects all of us to some degree.
Those with mental illnesses, for example, are often good at hiding their level of suffering. The turnover of providers when a contract ends and a cheaper quote undercuts them, means constant need to prove and re-prove that you are sick.
This is profoundly disempowering and dispiriting.
Getting on with life means trying not to dwell on suffering. Instead, NDIS compliance means this is a constant and ongoing job.
Instead of being a person who happens to have a disability, you are forced to define who you are by all those things that make your life difficult and say it again and again and again.
The NDIS corporatisation of services shifts towards a future where no public services are provided. In that future, the super-rich will look down on the masses from their mansions, with their every whim provided for. The rest of us are expected to internalise their barbarism and blame each other. It’s intolerable.
Resistance is inevitable. How well it is organised and how far across the community it reaches will determine its success.
Yet again capitalism proves a failure for the people.
Neither smart nor skilled for the people
“Smart and Skilled” is the program instigated by Julia Gillard for the big end of town, to hand technical and further education to the lowest bidder. This is called “contestable funding”.
Despite resistance from teacher unions, Ms Gillard and her Coalition successors corporatised much of the technical and further education system. They replaced it with narrow “training” instead of education to assist people through their lives, saddled people with lifelong debts and offered it all to the lowest bidder to profit from.
For years the media was awash with stories of rip offs, targeting of vulnerable people, services not provided, non-existent facilities and crooks who took the money and ran.
In NSW public provision of technical and further education is still much stronger than other states. Yet even there the picture is ugly. Despite a big increase in population since 1996, numbers of TAFE students dropped by 110,800. Numbers in vocational courses, public and private, dropped by 63,000.
In just four years to 2017 almost half, or $723 million, was allocated contestably and $298 million was grabbed by private providers.