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May 282013

The following is a speech given by Ross Vasta the Federal Member for Bonner on 27th May 2013.

It is with great pleasure that I bring to the House’s attention a story that has been shared with me from a Bonner constituent. For the purposes of this speech, let us call her Mary. In a nutshell it encapsulates the true essence of the NDIS and what it will mean for people living with disabilities and for those who lovingly give their time to care for them. I think it is high time that every Australian stops and thinks but for the grace of God there go I because none of us know when we or one of our loved ones may, through no fault of their own, become severely disabled. People like Mary need a safety net and they will need to know the quality of life that remains for them.

Mary became a full-time carer for her late husband when he was suddenly struck down with motor neuron disease. This is a rapidly progressive neurological disease with an average life expectancy of only two to three years from diagnosis. Every day two people die of this cruel disease. Sadly, Mary’s husband progressively lost the ability to speak, swallow, walk, even to stand, grip with his hands and finally even breathe without mechanical assistance. These disabilities require a range of very specialised and expensive aids as well as physical assistance with daily functions. She relied heavily on the support of the Motor Neurone Disease Association for the provision of some of these resources.

She also had to make a co-payment to receive five hours per fortnight of in-home assistance provided by Anglicare. Any increased assistance was not possible due to the lack of funding available to the service providers. Her husband was assessed by disability services as eligible for 40 hours per week of in-home care but, sadly, no funds were available to actually provide it. When Mary’s circumstances became quite desperate, emergency funding for a total of 40 hours was made available; however, she was able to find available staff to provide only nine hours per week. As her husband could not be left alone, she too became housebound and relied heavily on family support for their daily needs—a stark reminder of the immense load on the shoulders of carers.

This story is why we must ensure that the NDIS comes to fruition as quickly as possible and to keep up the scrutiny that the scheme warrants to ensure that it will deliver where it is most needed to people like Mary and to her husband. To echo the sentiments of our shadow Treasurer, Mr Joe Hockey:

… Australians want tomorrow to be better than today.

Australians want their government to reflect their aspirations.

And, Australians want their government to reflect the very best qualities of our people.

The NDIS reflects the very best qualities of our people by providing the best quality of life for its disabled.

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