Yvonne Campbell owns and runs local business Special Care Clothing Solutions with her husband. She was intially inspired to start the business when her mother was confined to a nursing home, suffering with Alzheimers. She saw the difficulty carers had dressing her. The indiginity and discomfort she often endured made it clear to Yvonne that there was a need for specially designed clothing for those with limited mobility.
Earlier this month Yvonne attended the Disability Roundtable where people with disabilities and carers gathered to discuss and share information. It was hosted by Federal Member for Bonner Ross Vasta along with Shadow Minister for Disablities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector, Mitch Fifield. It was also run with the support and assistance of Terry Forster, Principal of Mount Gravatt Special School, where the roundtable was held.
Vasta said a common theme for a number of people in attendance was the lack of training of Centrelink staff in relation to advising all the options available to people with disabilities and their carers.
There was much discussion about the draft National Disability Insurance Scheme being considered by the Productivity Commission.
“The Coalition is encouraged by the first draft of the Productivity Commission’s model for a National Disability Insurance Scheme and we will continue to monitor developments by the Productivity Commission and work to ensure that the Government responds generously to the Final Report due in July 2011.
“I look forward to maintaining this conversation with my community and working closely with Senator Fifield,” he said.
We asked Yvonne to take some notes at the roundtable and let us know her thoughts. She produced a guest post for us which follows:
Guest Post by Yvonne Campbell
I actually first read about the Disability Roundtable via Carindale Connect’s events page. With an interest in helping people with a disability find their way through the minefield of services available, I’m keen to go to any gathering such as this.
The points that I noted at the Disability Roundtable included:
- Lack of training of Centrelink staff to be able to advise clients of their full benefits.
- Lack of assistance for early learning for children born with a disability.
- Job placement agencies for people with a disability are paid to find work for PWDs (people with a disability) but never seem to find them work.
- People with a permanent disability (e.g cannont communicate, move or socially interact) are requested to register every year to advise the Government that the situation has not changed and they are still disabled, just to receive the pension.
- Lack of information as to what is available for PWDs.
- The National Disability Insurance Scheme will be a blessing to so many.
Fifield and Vasta seemed to be taking everything seriously on board. By the time the next election is on they should have a definite policy. I’ve made an appointment with Ross’ office next week.
I’ve been contacting as many community representatives as possible about the issue that affects so many of my clients. I met with Margaret at Steve Kilburn’s office to discuss helping me approach the ATO to remove the GST from Adaptive Clothing and to find out how they could assist me with my business such as financial grants etc. Margaret was fantastic and very prompt and she also helped me to get in touch with Kevin Rudd’s office. She also followed up with the State Goverment’s Disability Services. Unfortuantely there are no relevant grants available but they were very prompt in their communications with me.
Back in 2006, I applied to the Australian Tax Office to have Adaptive Clothing added to Section 3 of the medical aids and appliances Act. Their response was that, under subsection 38-45 of the New Tax System GST Act 1999, the supply of medical aid or appliance is GST-free where the medical aid or appliance:
- specifically designed for people with an illness or disability, and
- is not widely used by people without an illness or disability
I objected twice without success. As far as I was concerned Adaptive Clothing DID fit within the specifications.
Recently I spoke with another clothing provider based in Tasmania who has also been trying to get GST free. She told me she has spoken with Andrew Wilkie, Independent Federal Member for Denison. Wilkie said that a bill needs to be passed because the ATO will not currently recognise it as there is no Act in place to cover adaptive clothing. His office is trying to push this into parliament.
I discovered recently a gentleman with Multiple Sclerosis had tried to get GST free on other equipment without success and this just created such a terrible extra burden upon him. People with a disability should automatically be exempt from GST for these types of products or the government needs to add many varied appliances to the Section 3 of the Act. This is a huge area that needs to be seriously rectified.
Another example is a person with a disability needing to add a ramp to their home to gain access. They have to pay GST. It currently is not GST free because the say the item is not specific to a person with a disability. The best option would be to permit PWDs to be automatically GST-free for such purchases.
I hope the community can see the challenges that people with a disability face, not just because of their disability but due to the policies and procedures that greatly affect their physical, emotional and financial well-being.
I look forward to providing another update at some point this year, hopefully with better news for those with a disability.